Reaching Into the Universe Dedicated to creating an enlightened world: spiritually fulfilling, physically healthy, socially just, and environmentally sustainable.

25May/124

Minor ayahuasca miracles and preventative dentistry

TEETHIn which procrastination pays off, ayahuasca heals a cavity, and the field of dentistry thankfully evolves.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with a cavity. I've had to deal with cavities since I was a kid, despite good oral hygiene. My childhood dentist eventually told me that, although I should keep doing what I was doing with brushing and flossing, there was nothing I could do to prevent cavities and would just have to deal with them as they arose. This turns out to be more of a reflection of the state of dentistry at the time than of the reality of my  mouth.

But back to my most recent cavity. I was really resistant to getting it filled at the time, as I didn't want any crap in my mouth like amalgam or composite. My cavity was too small for a gold inlay, the only kind of gold restoration my dentist offered.

I found out about an old, dying technique called gold foil. It is one of the best kinds of dental restorations, but obscure and hard to find. Modern materials are cheaper and easier to work with, whereas the gold foil process is painstaking and gold is expensive. But done well, gold foil can last a lifetime (unlike amalgams and composites) and seemed like the perfect answer to my tiny cavity.

I was told nobody does gold foil anymore, but I found an old dentist near Fresno who still did them and was willing, if somewhat reluctantly, to give me one.

Then, I never made it happen.

The time and travel, the expense and hassle... I procrastinated. Various factors conspired to help assure that I would avoid the dentist another five years or so. In part, I was stuck between choices I didn't like. The cheap, easy, local way out versus the expensive, difficult, slightly scary dental road trip.

During that time a low grade worry around not dealing with something I knew needed to be dealt with took up residence in the back of my mind.

At some point that worry surfaced into consciousness enough for me to formulate an intention around dental health to bring into ayahuasca ceremonies.

I recall an intention that went something like this: "Ayahuasca, I don't know what's possible here but anything you can do to help my teeth would be great. I mean, I'd love it if you could make my cavity go away and replace it with healthy tooth again, but that seems like a stretch. So uh if you could at least stop it from getting worse maybe and ending up in some kind of overwhelmingly expensive and painful procedure like a root canal, that'd be great!"

In other words, please save me from my procrastination and failure to take better care of myself. As far as I knew, cavities weren't reversible, my wish was an impossible fantasy, but it never hurts to ask for miracles and bringing this intention to ceremony felt at least like doing something rather than nothing about the situation.

More time goes by, and then finally an ally helps me kick myself in the ass. I see clearly how the worry is a constant drain on my energy even when I'm not aware of it. I had known it must have been, but knowing about something and clearly seeing it in front of you are two different things. "Make dental appointment" goes onto my to do list, then actually gets done.

By the time the day comes and I make it into the dental chair, I've resigned myself to accepting whatever they want to put into my mouth. I just want business taken care of. I tell myself that resin composite probably isn't that bad.

Then the dentist tells me: I have two cavities now, not just the one. And they are "inactive" and do not need filling!!!

What? She tells me that the bacteria that cause decay are arrested and no longer decaying the tooth structure in those areas, and... get ready for this... that the tooth has "remineralized". Instead of being soft and sticky in the cavity, it's hard and solid again.

Wow. Intention manifested. I'm blown away. In fact, I'm high from the news pretty much the rest of the day. I can't prove it was the ayahuasca, and at the same time I don't know what else it could have been. Either way, my gratitude is off the charts.

At our next appointment, the dentist buffs over the old cavities lightly and applies a sealant over them, just for good measure.

Counting my blessings, it looks like I have saved money, effort, and tooth structure, and spent some amount of worry now shown to be unnecessary.

Ayahuascero Ron Wheelock once told me that ayahuasca has taught him never to worry about anything. At the time I took this as a kind of spiritual tenet. But now I am seeing that not worrying is also just a practical side effect of having powerful allies at your back.

The other good news is: preventative dentistry is starting to take hold in the field.

Rather than telling me that there's nothing more I can do, my present day dentist is all about prevention. It turns out that filling cavities is just treating the symptoms of the underlying "caries disease" (fancy dental-speak for "getting cavities"). Luckily, disease is something ayahuasca is excellent at healing, and dentistry has started to pay attention to it as well. A paper she shares with me discloses that "current dental caries management considers caries disease to be a dynamic and reversible process."

So the dentist does a "caries risk assessment" that measures the amount of "bad bacteria" in my mouth. The number on the readout is over 7,000 which places me in the second-highest risk category for developing more cavities.

She gives me a mouthwash treatment that she says can actually shift the balance of flora in my mouth so that good bacteria can dominate. It's somewhat scarier than the fillings I managed to avoid. It comes in two bottles, and each dose must be mixed at home right before use, like those heavy duty epoxies at the hardware store that come in two tubes. It almost burns and tastes like radioactive pool water.

I kind of do and kind of don't want to know what the chemical reaction I'm putting in my mouth is. I just want that bad bacteria number down a risk category or two next time I see the dentist.

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  • http://www.maslakdds.com/ Fabrizia Alan

    Good bacteria for mouth? Never heard of that.

  • http://www.reachingintotheuniverse.com Josh A.

    Yup… just like there are good bacteria in the colon. 

    Wikipedia says: “…the human mouth contains around 500 to 1000 types of bacteria that have various functions. While some of the bacteria in our mouths are harmful and can cause serious illness, much of our oral bacteria are actually beneficial in preventing disease.”

  • Mike

    Wow, that’s a nice healing story :) Were you actually drinking ayahuasca or just forming an intention?

  • http://www.reachingintotheuniverse.com/ Josh A.

    Thanks! Yes, was actually drinking ayahuasca. Have you worked with it before?

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