We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know: Ignaz Semmelweis

Washing hands.

Sometimes in life, science and the subsequent proof we seek lag far behind validating research (this begs a whole other discussion on funding of such today).  In support of my concerns about the dangers of fluoride and how we don’t know what we don’t know, I would like to share the tragic but compelling story of Ignaz Semmelweis.

Hungarian born medical doctor Ignaz Semmelweis began his professional career working in a maternity ward of the General Hospital of Vienna in 1846.  In an attempt to discover the cause and hopeful eradication of Peurperal Fever – commonly known then as Childbed Fever – Semmelweis began to collect data from two maternity wards within the hospital.

Interestingly, of the two wards Semelweiss chose, one was manned by male physicians and medical students and the other by female midwifes!  Can you see a pattern here?

When Semmelweis crunched the numbers, he discovered that women in the clinic staffed by male doctors and medical students died at a rate nearly five times higher than women in the female-staffed midwives’ clinic.

Semmelweis began studying all the differences between the two clinics, of which there were many.  The biggest difference he found was that the physicians and medical students were performing autopsies and the midwifes weren’t.

Semelweiss hypothesized that something was being transferred from the cadavers the doctors and students were studying to the women in the maternity ward who would also contract the disease and then die.

It is important to note here that the germ theory of disease had not yet been discovered and would not for another 20 years by Louis Pasteur who was also looking at Peurperal fever in his research.

Based on his common sense assumption that something was being transferred from the corpses, Semelweiss then had all of his staff begin to wash their hands and instruments with Chlorine.  The history books tell us that this was more to get rid of the smell of putrefying flesh.

The result: The rates of Childbed Fever dropped drastically!

One would expect a huge celebration of this discovery but such was not the case.  The doctors took it personally; it made them appear to be the cause of the disease and Semelweiss’ manner of enforcing the cleaning protocol offended them as well.

Instead, Semelweiss ended up losing his job and the hospital gave up the chlorine hand-washing with disease rates returning to their previous numbers.

Try as he might, the good doctor could convince no others of the importance of handwashing and he ended up in and insane asylum where it is reported that he was beaten to death.

It is tragic to me, that the protection of turf and personal interests outweighed the pursuit of truth and the wellbeing of the public; the Hippocratic Oath was not respected here!

We have not come very far if we still cannot acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know but even more of a travesty is that we don’t even care to find out!

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,


Professional Reactions to My Last Blog on Flossing

58986866 - young woman flossing teeth in front of mirror

I had wondered when I published last month’s blog on flossing if anyone would respond to the picture that we chose to accompany the article.  As I had hoped, a number of Dental Hygiene colleagues responded to the CDHA (my blog posts appear on their site), to alert them of the mistake that I had made.  I was notified of such and here is the truth..

The truth is, I was actually well aware of what I was doing and I purposely chose a picture that depicted a young woman flossing “incorrectly”.   Why did I do this?  I did this to prove a point.

We become so caught up in what we think we know that we play it safe.  We hold on to what is familiar and comfortable and completely avoid the issue at hand!

If the holy grail of flossing can be challenged, then I admonish all of you to do the same with fluoride!

We can start by asking some simple questions:

What if…

What if fluoride is toxic?

What if fluoride has side effects?

What if there are safer alternatives that I don’t know about?

What if I am missing the underlying problem by treating the symptom and not the cause?

The main problem is that “We don’t know what we don’t know” and we need to have the courage to challenge what we have learned and what we believe.  Things change… it is the only constant in life!

To see my previous articles on fluoride, please click here.

We owe it to our patients, who trust us to always have their best interests in mind, with everything that we recommend for them!

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,


To Floss or Not To Floss

58986866 - young woman flossing teeth in front of mirror

Recently, a patient brought to my attention an Associated Press release that made it to the evening news, stating officials have never really researched the effectiveness of regular flossing.  She then asked me to comment on whether I think it is necessary to floss or not to floss.

While I was aware of the limited data available supporting this oral health care practice, I have personally observed, anecdotally, that the effects of some kind of in-between bacterial disruption on a daily basis really does help to reduce bleeding gums and inflammation.

And here is the thing; most people hate flossing!!!!!  For most, it is uncomfortable, awkward and just plain too-difficult for them to do.  Instead I recommend, and give out, little plastic toothpicks called Rotapoints that are convenient, easy to use and most of all patients love them!

The other tool for in-between cleaning that I am obsessed with as of late is the Waterpik.  While it means spending a little more time in the bathroom, I find my patients who won’t floss are usually quite dedicated to making this a part of their daily routine and if the truth be known, I believe the results are better than flossing and tooth-picking!

However, I can’t resist the opportunity, as a result of this announcement, to challenge my colleagues in the field of dentistry to reflect on a lesson we all might learn from this example and then apply it to another practice in our profession that we have all taken for granted and promote:

“The misguided belief that water fluoridation is beneficial and necessary.”

Just like the use of floss, where is the science and what does it say?  Please do not take anyone else’s word for it, do your own research! Unlike flossing, this is a drug that can and does have the potential for causing serious side-effects.  We are dealing with people and their health and we always have to remember:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

We owe it to our patients, who trust us to always have their best interests in mind, with everything that we recommend for them!

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,


Medical Medium: The Role of Microbes in Oral Diseases

Medical Medium

I recently read Medical Medium, a new book by medical intuitive Anthony William, and it has resonated immensely with my own intuition about the role microbes may play in many diseases, including oral diseases.

According to William, the medical establishment is decades away from uncovering the truths espoused in his book, largely centering on the Epstein Barr virus.  The Epstein Barr virus belongs to the family of herpes viruses including those that cause cold sores, genital herpes, chickenpox and shingles and has been found to be responsible for mononucleosis and Sjogren’s syndromeContinue reading

5 Reasons Why I Recommend ECO-DENT DailyCare Toothpowder

Eco-DentAs a holistic registered dental hygienist, I am often asked by my patients, family and friends what “toothpaste” I recommend. In most cases I suggest that they try ECO-DENT DailyCare Toothpowder and I actually give out samples right here in my office for them to try.  There are many reasons why I recommend this toothpowder over a regular toothpaste, but here are my top 5 reasons why I choose to recommend ECO-DENT DailyCare Toothpowder.

5 Reasons Why I Recommend ECO-DENT DailyCare Toothpowder: Continue reading

3 Strategies to Improve the Oral Microbiome

Oral Microbiome

In last month’s blog, What if the Real Cause of Cavities and Gum Disease is Incorrect, I introduced my belief in the necessity of exploring and acknowledging the oral microbiome as a key to really understanding and treating oral disease.  As I continue to research and learn, I have developed 3 key strategies to help my patients improve their oral microbiome:

  1. Don’t routinely use mouthwash
  2. Eat a minimum of grains and processed carbohydrates
  3. Consider oral Probiotic supplementation

Continue reading

What If the Real Cause of Cavities and Gum Disease is Incorrect?

Dental Hygiene

My husband and I recently had dinner with friends of ours and the after-dinner discussion touched on the “apparent” fact that our ancestors had more oral disease and probably lost many of their teeth at an early age.  Obviously, they did not have the benefit of modern oral health practices such as brushing, flossing, fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water.

However, I had read recently that current research suggests that this may not necessarily be true.  I decided to do some research of my own to see if I could find the real cause of cavities and gum disease. Continue reading



My third intention word for 2016 is LAUGHTER.

For those of you who know me personally, you may know that I am a rather serious person and am not given to an easy-going approach to life in general.  I am passionate about everything I do, and while this can be a wonderful personality trait, sometimes I know that I just need to lighten up and laugh a little!

In researching laughter I have found a multitude of studies that generally come to the same basic conclusions about the benefits of laughter:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces stress hormone levels
  • Fun abdominal workout
  • Improves cardiac health
  • Boosts T cells
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • Produces a general sense of well-being

Continue reading


finger on her lips. silence gesture

My second Intention Word for 2016 is SILENCE!

I did not realize how noisy this world was until I quit my job in mainstream dentistry some eight years ago and began to focus on creating silence in my life as part of my healing.

I had worked in an open-concept dental office for roughly eighteen years where the sounds of high-speed drills, ultrasonic scalers, televisions, telephones, doorbells and people talking bombarded and permeated the race-against-the-clock practice of modern dentistry were common every day noise. Continue reading

My 3 Intention Words for 2016

Enough is enough text on blackboard

I want to thank my good friend Karen Armstrong at Inside Out for sharing her New Year’s tradition of picking three words that reflect the energy that the New Year is bringing forth for her and making these her Intention Words for the coming year.

I have decided to adopt Karen’s idea for myself this year because of its simplicity, and the fact that it does not necessitate setting goals or making resolutions.  I am a very goal-oriented person both personally and professionally and while this has helped greatly in the past to keep me on track with my vision of success, I know it is time to take a break in 2016 and coast for awhile.  For those of you who know me, coasting is not in my vocabulary so this is really going to be a challenge.  However, I am turning 60 this year, and as I enter into this next chapter of my life the universe is gently prodding me to take a break, to rest a bit and just be.

So here are my Intention Words for 2016: Continue reading