Did It Hurt?

In last month’s newsletter, I posted the results of our ‘did it hurt?’ survey. And they were, frankly, poor.

image1
So, for March, I’m very pleased to say that we have improved. 94% of all of you who
completed the survey reported feeling no pain at all. That’s a step in the right direction.
As is the fact that we didn’t receive a single ‘ouch’.

I still think we can do better though. And I will continue to keep you updated.

So, thank you to all of you who completed the survey. The only way we can improve is to
continue to measure your feedback.

Jas Sandhu

image2It’s Arrived!

After about a year and a half, we finally
received permission for installing a
stairlift. It may look a little bit
confusing to operate, so please ask any
of us for a hand.

Sue giving
the stairlift
a test drive

 

“I like working at the High Street Dental Practice because it is a very friendly and happy
place. We work as a team and always go that bit further to
make it a warm and welcoming place for staff and patients
alike. We laugh a lot, enjoy spending time together and help
each other out.

image3We have fantastic patients who make it a pleasure to treat
them and do our best for them.

I used to dread coming to work but no longer because I know
that once I walk up the stairs I will be greeted with a smile which means more than
anything.”

Debbie Topley

image4Helping children with toothache is one thing. But, our goal has always been to try and
prevent it in the first place. We all knew that this would be a difficult task given that we
only used to travel to Morocco a couple of times a year.

But, over the last two years, we seem to have reached the tipping point. The Dental
Mavericks are now being asked to visit lots of communities in both the Rif and Atlas
mountains.

One of these being The Eve Branson ( Richard’s mum ) Foundation.

With the aid of toothbrushes, toothpastes and simple infographs, some of the village
communities are now running oral hygiene workshops for their schools.

Team members from Virgin Unite are also flying out to help with our projects.

image5And, the Advisor to the King of Morocco is also supporting our efforts. It’s likely that he
will be there to watch us treating the children when I next travel in May. So, I will try to
be on my best behaviour.

I am sorry if this report sounds self-indulgent. But so many of you have supported this
cause and I just want you to know that your ever so generous donations are really making
a difference.

Thank you.

Jas Sandhu

 

image64 Things You Should Know About
Your Toothbrush

1.    Don’t be afraid to change

Worn out brushes can’t clean our teeth properly and could damage the gums. So,
change your brush as soon the bristles start to splay. As a rule, about every 3
months. Also, signs of a worn toothbrush within about 3 months could mean that
you’re brushing your teeth too hard.

2.    How you store your toothbrush

Don’t use a cover for your toothbrush. The cover doesn’t allow the bristles to dry.
And this moist environment is where bacteria can thrive.
Don’t keep your toothbrushes together. If the brush heads come into contact, they
will spread germs.
Don’t store your tooth brush close to open sinks or toilets. The aerosol spray
produced by toilets particularly can contain airborne bacteria. As a rule, store your
toothbrush at least 2 metres away from sinks or toilets.

3.    Cleaning your toothbrush

Rinse your brush after using it and store in an upright position so that water can
drain away from the head

4.    What type of toothbrush?

Clinical tests have shown that electric toothbrushes are more effective at
removing plaque. Those with heads that rotate in both directions have been shown
to be most effective.

We mostly recommend the Oral B electric toothbrush.

However, if your brushing well with your existing toothbrush – whatever it may
be (and we’re not nagging you) – then don’t feel like you to change.

“Pick it, lick it, stick it”
image7

Many thanks to Michaela, one of our patients, for sending us this very
informative article.

Word of the month:

image8Meraki

“The perfect moment; the fleeting
rightness of time and place that
creates the opportune atmosphere
for action, words or movement.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

image9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Does it hurt?

Pain. It’s one of the biggest reasons why so many of us fear going to the dentist – me     included. And it’s a question that we ask in one of our surveys.

In fact, it’s one of the strongest markers that we judge ourselves by.

February’s results show that 79% of you felt no pain at all during any treatment.

And that’s not good enough.

We can do better. So, from now on, we will be monitoring our results every week and I will post them on future newsletters. For now, though, please accept my apologies and my promise that we will improve.

Jas Sandhu

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“The Road To Morocco”

2The Moroccans love their
football. And this shirt,
donated very kindly by
Richard Tramontin from
East Grinstead Football
C l u b , was v e r y w e l l
received.

Despite having travelled to Morocco for several years now, last month’s trip was unique in a couple of ways. Firstly, the Dental Mavericks visited a new village and secondly, I was joined by some of our team: From left to right above, Cilla, Debbie, Maggie and Sophie.

Our destination, Kilia, is a small village up in the Rif mountains.3
The journey – in a 4 wheel drive jeep – wasn’t the most
comfortable. The roads are carved into the side of the mountain,
with a sheer drop on one side. No tarmac. No road signs. No
crash barriers.
Our ‘clinic’ was one of the classrooms in the village school. But,
because of the cramped conditions, we had to set up some of our
working spaces outside.

4They were more concerned about the gifts that we handed out. Colouring pencils, paper and things like yo-yo’s. Nothing remotely special – but they were overjoyed. The weather conditions and their lack of adequate clothing, they’re used to. But gifts, even as simple as those that we gave, are a novelty. We worked in a very poorly lit class room with water dripping from the ceiling onto an electric light bulb! And it is at times like these that I have to remind myself that we aren’t in the UK now. What we all take for granted is so often considered a luxury by our hosts.

In all of my trips, I’ve never seen so many children with abscesses. I can’t imagine the pain that some of them must have been suffering. I still haven’t got used to that. And I hope I never will.
Jas Sandhu

Word of the month:

5

“The perfect moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words or movement.”

Colgate Total

In 2013, the Cochrane Oral Health Group completed a review of the most effective toothpastes. The review involved 30 studies carried out over a 22 year period and 14,835 participants.

Cochrane are a global network of researchers. Their work is free from sponsorship and is recognised as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.

Their evidence showed benefits in using a Triclosan/copolymer fluoride toothpaste when
compared with a fluoride-only toothpaste. Triclosan is an antibiotic ingredient and
copolymer is an ingredient that helps to keep the copolymer on the teeth and gums. The
toothpaste used was Colgate Total and the results, after six months of use, showed:

22% reduction in plaque
22% reduction in gingivitis
48% reduction in bleeding gums
5% reduction in tooth decay
Our practice has no affiliation with Colgate. But, we think that it is important to recommend it as the evidence is, so far, overwhelming.

Nikoletta’s News

Born on the 1st of January, and now 10 weeks later, here’s a picture6
of Evi. According to her mother:

“She has a mind of her own. She is a Tottenham fan like her dad
and a Djokovic fan like her mum…no Federer or Murray!”

Poor child.

A glass of water can help tackle morning breath

New research suggests that drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning is an
effective way of reducing morning breath. The research, published in the International
Journal of Dental Hygiene, has shown that drinking or rinsing the mouth with a glass of
water helped remove up to 60 per cent of the substances which contribute to bad breath.

There is a simple test that you can do if you think you may be suffering from bad breath.
Just lick the inside of your wrist, wait for it to dry and sniff – if the smell is bad, it’s likely
that your breath is too.

If you do have bad breath, try keeping a diary of all the foods you eat and list any
medicines you are taking. Bring this diary to us, and we may be able to suggest ways to
solve the problem.

8Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth could be a warning sign of gum disease. Other
conditions that cause bad breath include infections in the throat, nose or lungs.
The best way to beat bad breath is to ensure that you have an effective cleaning routine;
ideally, brushing your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day.
Don’t forget to clean your tongue as well to help remove more bacteria.

Thanks for reading.

How Chewing Gum Can Save Us Money

1Chewing sugar-free gum could save the NHS £8.2 million a year.

A study published this week in the British Dental Journal has revealed that up to £8.2 million of costs to the NHS could be saved if twelve year olds across the UK were to increase their chewing of sugar-free gum as part of a good oral health routine to help prevent tooth decay.

While brushing for two minutes, twice a day is still the best way to keep our teeth and gums healthy, clinical research has shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking helps neutralise plaque acid and can reverse the early signs of tooth decay.

This research, conducted by the York Health Economics Consortium and Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University, with support from The Wrigley Company Ltd, is the first of its kind in the UK.

I would like to add the following points:

This research had the support of the Wrigley company – a well known manufacturer of chewing gum – so, one could be forgiven for thinking that the results are biased. However, the benefits of chewing gum, particularly after meals and drinks, are proven.

Also, this survey was limited to 12 year olds. However, the benefits apply to us all.

We don’t generally recommend that children under the age of 7 chew gum although this is very much at the discretion of all parents.

Whilst I do agree with the report, it focusses only on the cost savings whilst omitting the distress that children with toothache suffer.

Something that I am all too aware of during my travels to Morocco.

Jas Sandhu

2The diagram above shows how tooth enamel is at risk from acid after food and drink, and how long it takes the acid level in the mouth to return to the safe zone. The pH is the measure of acidity. Below 5.5 is acidic enough to soften tooth enamel. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can quickly lower the Ph and, therefore, the amount of acid that attacks the teeth.

3

Congratulations to Sophie who, at the age of only 19, distinguished herself in her Radiology exam this month.

“I have been very impressed with the level of care and treatment and the practice. Thank you so much. Also, to learn of your missionary-type trips to morrcco’s needy children. May God bless you and the team. Your travels. Your health and all that you do. You are giving more than just dental treatment.”

Thanks you so much

Nigel M

Thank you Nigel

Stairlift update

Planning for our long-awaited stairlift has finally been approved. However, only verbally. So, all
we are waiting on now is the approval in writing. Of all the stairlifts we’ve looked at – and that’s a
lot – we were most impressed by those supplied by Age UK. However, should any of you have any comments or recommendations, please do contact me.

Again, thank you for your patience.

Jas Sandhu

“The Road To Morocco”

4Is it ironic that we, as a dental practice, are selling ‘sugar’ to help prevent its harmful effects? Probably, yes. But, all of the funds we raise will go towards helping the children in Morocco.

And, so far, the sale of our home-made cakes has raised a massive £316.66. As Jas is a trustee of The Dental Mavericks, he has set a fundraising target of £3000.

Our total funds raised so far are nearly £2000!

So, watch out for more cakes and other silly events in the next few weeks.

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Thank you all so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Steph.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

7Our core values are those values that help to guide us. Our compass, if you like.

At our last meeting, we agreed that not all of us felt aligned with our old values. So, now, we

have updated them and agreed on the following:

  • Integrity8
  • Play
  • Ubuntu
  • Kaizen

Please feel free to ask us about them. What they stand for? Why we chose them? And how they

can help you? For now, I think that the photo on the next page explains why we all agreed on

‘Play’.

You’ll find us in the front row.

Hope to see you there.

Thanks for reading.

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2016

A year that’s shaping to be a special one already:181201653935396_January-3

Firstly, on New Year’s Day, (just as Jas predicted), Nikoletta gave birth to Evi. Both of them are doing very well although Nikoletta still won’t be returning to the practice until April for some strange reason.

And, secondly, we’re Moving! To Morocco!!181201653935396_January-5

Now that we have your attention, we wish you all a Very Happy New Year.

 

 

 

181201653935396_January-10

Okay, we’re not actually moving. That would be silly. But, in February, Jas is taking some of us to Morocco.

Jas was recently made a trustee of The Dental Mavericks, a charity that he co-founded in 2010. 181201653935396_January-8And one that is going from strength to strength. To date, they have treated 3043 children in the Rif and Atlas mountains.

And now, he has arranged for some of us to travel with him to treat the Berber children in a village called ‘Kilea’. The demand for dental treatment is so high here that he thinks we may see around 500 children.

So, no, we’re not moving. But, for one weekend in February, The High Street Dental Practice will be travelling ‘en-masse’ to Morocco.

To help treat these gorgeous children. And, to help make a difference.181201653935396_January-9

But, don’t worry. Kate and Lindsey will still be here manning the fort for you.

Did you know, 2016 is:

The 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth?

The 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter?

The 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth?

The 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London?

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death? And,

The 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings?181201653935396_January-12

Thank you so much for entering our christmas raffle. You raised a total of 696 pounds. All of which went to ‘Crisis’. Here’s a letter we recently received from them…

For all your support, thank you. And once again, Happy New Year.

 

 

181201653935396_January-16Many congratulations to our lucky winner

For all your support, thank you. And once again, Happy New
Year.

Welcome to this Christmas edition of our newsletter

181201653944533_December-1A major drawback of visiting us is having to negotiate our stairs. To all of you for whom walking is a difficulty, we do understand. Which is why we’ve been desperately trying to install a stairlift for the whole of this year. Who would have thought it would be so difficult?

The problem has been getting permission from the owners of our building – necessitating a structural survey. And, being a listed building, we also need permission from the council. Including, amongst other things, a detailed scaled drawing of the planned stairlift! So far, we have submitted the info required and are now waiting on a decision.

I am really sorry for the delay. Just don’t be surprised if you find me using it.

Jaspal Sandhu

“I was really impressed at my visit yesterday. The care, respect and kindness I was shown was wonderful not only by the dentist but reception staff too. Never have I experienced such treatment before and I will definitely be informing all my friends”

Thank you Mrs G

‘CRISIS’ at Christmas

181201653944533_December-8This Christmas, our practice will be supporting Crisis as our chosen charity by means of a raffle.

Tickets are just one pound and the lucky winner will receive this Christmas hamper from Marks and Spencer worth £100.

The lucky winner will be announced on Monday the 21st of December. And all proceeds will go directly to ‘Crisis’.

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time of year for a person cut off from their family and home.

Crisis provide companionship and support to tackle loneliness and isolation, and help people take their first steps out of homelessness. To find out more about what they do, click here.

It’s our hope that, with your help, we can help them make a difference.

181201653944533_December-13

Murphy’s Law states that:

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.”

In the past, we’ve found that this is especially the case at Christmas. Hopefully, we won’t need to see you for the wrong reasons. But, just in case, we will be open on all non bank-holiday days as

shown below:

Thursday 24th December 8.00 – 1.00pm

Friday 25th December Closed

Monday 28th December Closed

Tuesday 29th December 8.00- 5.30pm

Wednesday 30th December 8.00 – 4.00pm

Thursday 31st December 8.00 – 1.00pm

Friday 1st January Closed

Saturday 2nd January 8.00 – 1.00pm

However, should you have any need to contact us out of hours, please make a note of our

emergency number: 07826 000465

You’ll get straight through to Maggie. However, I have allowed her to have some sleep this Christmas. So, if she can’t answer your call, please leave a message and she will get back to you as soon as she’s woken (sobered) up.

Our Christmas hamper,

proudly on display at

reception. It’s currently

under 24 hour surveillance

just in case any of the girls

get too tempted.

181201653944533_December-14Speaking of Maggie. As many of you will know, she is our practice manager, receptionist and nurse amongst other things. Well, on the 7th of December, Maggie reached the ripe age of 50! So, please understand if she seems just a little bit less ebullient than her normal self. And, if you are visiting us soon, feel free to pass on your birthday wishes. She won’t mind being reminded.

Maggie receiving the ‘Working with Jas’ award. I can’t imagine why. Indian Head Massage with Lindsey Many of you will already know Lindsey, one of our hygienists. But did you know that she is also a qualified complimentary therapist? Lindsey has a special interest in treating migraines, headaches, sinus problems and a host of stress-related conditions. Our patients are now beginning to see the benefits of Indian Head Massage which combats stress by rhythmically massaging away the ever increasing tensions and strains of modern day living. It soothes, comforts and rebalances the energy flow to produce a feeling of peace and tranquillity. The therapy is particularly beneficial either before or after any dental treatment that you may require. Each session lasts 1 hour and costs £45. If you’d like any more info, please give us a call.

181201653944533_December-16“I see Lindsey once a month for an Indian Head Massage. I do a lot of driving with my job and am a bit of a migraine sufferer. Lindsey’s treatment really helps with the stress and the knots in my neck and shoulders and the migraines are now virtually non-existent! Lindsey makes me feel very relaxed and the treatment is enjoyable especially the scalp massage ” Juliette. “I often arrive for an Indian Head Massage with Lindsey feeling tense and stressed following a hard week at work. I always leave feeling relaxed and lighter. I’d recommend Lindsey’s Indian Head massage to anyone ” Garry.

On a final note, at the end of every year, I ask all the team to nominate that one person who, in their opinion, is worthy of the Team Member of the Year Award. Well, the results are in and the winner was….. Debbie Topley.

Here are some of the comments I received:

She is kind, generous and consistent.

She makes a great friend & colleague.

She always makes time for us and is reliable.

She is marvellous with her patients, dedicated to giving gentle care, and showing great kindness and patience.

She always has time to help, listen and resolve any concerns the rest of the team have.

She is great fun and always appears happy and calm, taking everything in her stride.

Busy as she is, she still finds the time to think of her colleagues.

She’s so supportive as a colleague and friend.

She’s great fun especially after a few Mojito’s!

She is an excellent dentist.

And makes fantastic cake!!

For those of you who know Debbie, you’ll know exactly how true these comments are. Well deserved Debbie.

181201653944533_December-18Lastly, we would like to thank you all for your continued support and faith in us and our practice. We really do appreciate it and we will do our best to make sure that we continue to earn it in 2016.

Merry Christmas and the very best of wishes for the New Year.

Thank you.

The Chernobyl Children 2015

Anastasia, or Nastia for short, is 11 years old and doesn’t have toothache. In fact, she doesn’t even have a single filling.

During our time caring for the Chernobyl Children, we are so used to dealing with pain and high levels of decay that we have become conditioned to it.

Nastia is the exception. We were told that both of her parents are dentists.

The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line ( CCLL ) is a children’s charity, founded in 1991. To date, it has helped over 46,000 children.

The Chernobyl Children 2015Their main aims are:

•     To bring child victims of the Chernobyl disaster to the UK for recuperative breaks of four weeks every year.

•     To provide on-going supplies of multi-vitamins and basic healthcare products to the children on their return (thousands of tonnes in the last 9 years).

•     To help children too sick to travel by providing chemotherapy medicines to Children’s Cancer Hospitals in Minsk, Gomel and other regions.

Most of their efforts are focussed in Belarus, which received over 70% of the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in April 1986. As a result, thousands are born every year or go on to develop thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia.

The Chernobyl Children 2015To this day, nearly thirty years later, the local hospitals are overflowing with newly reported cases of thyroid cancer.

The help offered by the CCLL is invaluable. Not just for the children, but for their parents as well. Many of whom were forced to re-house following the disaster. Thus losing their lands that they once farmed. Many of these parents are still unemployed.

Jules, making dentistry fun.

When I first heard about the work of the CCLL, I approached them to offer the services of our practice for their children. We were fortunate enough to be accepted and it was in the year 2013 that our joint alliance began.

One that our practice is proud to continue.

With their ongoing health concerns, coupled with the poor economy, it is little wonder that these childrens’ dental health has become overlooked. So many of their teeth are rotten and most of them have toothache.

This year, Dima is the most nervous of all the children this year. And he has toothache.

The Chernobyl Children 2015Despite that, when told that he would be visiting the dentist, Dima apparently replied that he would rather go back home to Russia.

Access to a dentist is not easy for most of these children. Dima, I noticed, had been seen by a dentist before.

“He comes from a poor family. And the only access is at a local hospital.”Lesley, one of the organisers, had informed me.

I wondered if Dima’s reluctance to be seen today was a result of his previous experiences. But, despite his obvious anxiety, he did eventually let me take a look in his mouth. Many of his teeth were decayed.

So much decay in a 9 year old.

After a lot of persuasion, and with the help of Russlana our translator, we manage to fill several of Dima’s teeth. He was very nervous. But he was also very brave.

 

Dima, after we had treated his teeth.

Our time with these children is limited. In the four weeks that they spend here in the UK, we have just one day to try to get them out of pain. But we also try to instil in them the importance of good oral hygiene in an attempt to hopefully prevent further decay in the future.

But, these children are faced with the very real prospects of developing so many life threatening conditions. And we have to accept that that looking after their teeth isn’t going to rank very highly on their list of priorities.

Nevertheless, it won’t stop us trying. And we hope to see them or their kin
The Chernobyl Children 2015

next year.

Dental Mavericks 5 Years on. A Celebration At Mount Toubkal.

image“Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”
Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

 

‘Ouda’ was crying. He and his mother had travelled a fair distance from the Rif mountains to see us. His face was swollen on one side, he was scared, and he was in pain. When he eventually allowed me to look into his mouth, all I could see were rotten teeth and an abscess.

He was only 4 years old.

I had to do something, and that something meant take out some of his teeth. But, he was so nervous and it was very likely that this was going to hurt him. But what choice did I have? There are no dentists here. Antibiotics and or painkillers may have helped but we tend not to administer them because of a risk of allergy.

I knew I’d only have one chance so I had to guess which tooth was the most likely cause of his pain. And, with the help of his mother, I eventually managed to take it out. Despite making him numb, it did hurt. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget his screams of pain.

Add to that my doubts as to whether I had taken the correct tooth out, and, not for the first time during my travels to Morocco, I wondered why I do this.

I didn’t think I would ever see him or his mother again. But, early the next morning, there they were. Ouda was smiling. At me! And his abscess had gone. The rest of his family were there too. To thank us. And they handed me some family photos as a gift. In a land where terms such as ‘digital’, ‘wi-fi’, and ‘social media’ are alien, photos are considered to be precious heirlooms, this was an incredible act of generosity.

“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
― Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

Despite always trying to treat the children painlessly, what we do can sometimes be unpleasant. And stressful. And each time I return to Morocco, I’m reminded of Ouda. Sometimes I doubt whether I could return, but I know that I will. Not just for the children because i know that there are plenty of other dentists that could easily replace me.

But for me.

And, in early May this year, so I did.

2015 marks the 5th anniversary of ‘The Dental Mavericks’. Ever since our humble beginnings in 2010, our efforts have begun to be noticed. We have now partnered with another charity, RifCom. And, most recently, we were invited to work with The Eve Branson Foundation located in a village called Asni, in the Atlas mountains.

So there we headed. Our goal, as usual, was to help rid the local children of dental pain. Each year, we have a self-imposed rule: treat only those below the age of sixteen. The reason being that, without the benefit of radiographs, it’s difficult to know exactly what sort of treatment we’re committing to. But, each year, we break that rule. It’s difficult to turn people away. Especially when they’re in pain.

An equally important part of our work is to deliver a strong dental health message. One based on emphasising the importance of diet and oral hygiene and its effects on the likelihood of developing tooth decay. But these are an impoverished people. They don’t have the luxury of choice when it comes to their diet. And it’s important that we recognise and respect this. Our efforts, therefore, tend to lean towards improving their oral hygiene.

So, each year, we donate hundreds of toothbrushes and toothpastes. As well as providing fluoride treatment for all of the children.

Our group this time numbered seventeen in total, of which five were dentists. For some, this was their first visit. And, despite being forewarned about the high levels of decay and pain that they would likely experience, they were clearly overcome with emotion. Just like the rest of us had, and continue to be.

Over the course of the week, we set up our mobile clinics in two locations. Firstly in a local primary school and thereafter in the Eve Branson Foundation itself.

And, by the end of our stay, we had treated 350 children.

Since 2010, the total number of children that we have cared for now stands at 3043. But it’s not enough. We realise that we should be looking at a more grass roots level. Our aim:

Prevention is better than Cure.

So our plan is to set up a permanent ‘teeth for life’ programme in the area.

So far, we have two new dental units and a trailer for our growing pop-up surgeries which will make a difference in the delivery of pain free dentistry to the children of the Rif and Atlas mountains.

Our next venture is to raise £10,000 to fund a purpose-built dental room. With that in mind, we decided to take on a special charity challenge. A fundraiser but without the ‘fun’.

At a height of 4167 metres, Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in the Atlas mountains. And one of our team had the bright idea of climbing it. when asked if I would like to participate, I agreed. without really knowing exactly what I had committed to.

Starting at the busy village of Imlil, at the foothills of the Atlas mountains, our team of 9 set off with our watchful guide, Khalid.

Moments after we had set off, we were told that we would need crampons to complete our ascent.

We’d only walked a few hundred metres. And I was already sweating, and tired.

“Khalid, it’s 38 degrees here. Are you sure?” I remember asking. In my defence, we couldn’t yet see the peak of Toubkal.

He slowly turned to me. And Paused before pointing upwards.
“but it isn’t up there.”

How high is this place? I asked. A daft question because I already knew.

“Four thousand, one hundred and sixty seven metres.” Khalid didn’t answer. That was the response from several other people in our group. It was said very slowly, as if to emphasise every inch. And it wasn’t said with a great deal of warmth.

Crampons are not very comfortable. I wondered if mine had been put on upside down but I wisely kept that thought to myself.

About half an hour later, we were ready and started to follow Khalid as he set a meandering path through the dry river beds of the Azzadean Valley. As we began to ascend, our path turned sharply upwards past the stunning waterfalls of Ighouliden.

In whichever direction we looked, the scenery was stunning. The problem, though, was that the mountain paths were very narrow. And we were mostly walking over fairly large rocks or loose gravel. Both of which required very close attention. We very soon learned that you either walked, keeping a fairly close eye on the terrain, or stopped to admire the scenery. But not both at the same time.

After about three hours, we climbed to over 2000m and several of our group began to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Dizziness and nausea being the most common. Fortunately, a brief rest and plenty of water were enough to alleviate them.

The problem with stopping though was that, although we all looked forward to a rest, starting to climb again seemed that much harder afterwards. It was still hot. And the landscape, although still stunning, was by now becoming repetitive with no signs of reprieve. There was, by now, very little conversation amongst us.

Yet, even here, hours away from civilisation, there was no shortage of encampments in which the local Berbers had made their homes. Everyday, we were told, they would think nothing of trekking up and down the mountain for supplies. and in all weathers.

After a total of seven and a half hours, we reached ‘The Refugio’. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Tolkien’s Helms Deep, this hostel was to be our resting place for the night. Although spartan in its facilities, it was a very welcome sight. It was very cold now and patches of snow were covering the ground.

We would need crampons.

Khalid had decided on an early start the following morning. The plan was to complete the ascent and then walk all the way back to Imlil in one day.

Setting off at 6am, the sun had not yet risen. It was still dark so torches were a must. Except for me, because I’d forgotten mine. Armed with our walking poles, we negotiated a mixture of terrains – snow, ice, rocks and loose gravel.

By the time the sun had risen above the Atlas mountains, the peak of Toubkal was now in full view. I remember feeling conflicting emotions ranging between relief at being able to see our final destination and despair at just how much further and higher we still had to go.

It took us about eight hours to reach the summit. But reach it we did. Although tired, the pain of our ascent melted away very quickly.

image
Yet the view was enough to make it worthwhile. To be able to look all around us and look down upon the high Atlas mountains to one side and the Sahara on the other.

“The views were immensely wide. Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility.”
Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

The journey down presented its own problems. We all slipped. We all fell. But we all made it.

I’ve never climbed a mountain before. Had I known just how hard it would be, on every organ and every muscle of my body, I don’t think I would have volunteered.

But, after having walked for a total of 21.5 hours in 2 days, we had achieved our goal. I won’t say conquered Mount Toubkal. It was more of an honourable draw.

But, now that the pain has gone, I’m glad I did it.
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On Top Of The World

Iva made it to the top!

Iva made it to the top!

ON TOP OF THE WORLD AND BACK

FOR ME 2014 HAS BEEN A TURNING YEAR TO SAY THE LEAST.

IN MID 2013 I HAD DECIDED TO CLIMB THE MOUNT KILIMANJARO IN AID OF RAISING FUNDS FOR THE YOUNG EPILEPSY, CHARITY CLOSE TO MY HEART.

I CHOSE THE YOUNG EPILEPSY FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS BUT THE MAIN REASON BEING THE FACT THAT I HAVE SUFFERED FROM IT AS A CHILD HOWEVER THANKFULLY I GREW OUT OF IT.

WHY MOUNT KILIMANJARO? IT WAS A HUGE CHALLENGE FOR ME TO OVERCOME AS A SIGN OF SUPPORT TO CHILDREN AND ADULTS SUFFERING THE CONDITION ON A DAILY BASIS.

IN AUGUST 2014 I SET OFF WITH 24 OTHER THEN STRANGERS, NOW FRIENDS, ALL RAISING MONEY FOR THE CHARITIES CLOSE TO THEIR HEARTS.

THE TRAINING WAS NOT EASY.WORKING FULL TIME AT THE HSDP,  I  WAS ONLY ABLE TO TRAIN IN THE EVENINGS IN MY LOCAL “ENERGIE” GYM IN THE WEEK AND EVERY WEEKEND I HAVE BEEN GOING FOR 8-13 MILES WALKS ACROSS THE SOUTH DOWNS.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME I AM “ALL OR NOTHING” KIND OF GIRL SO WHEN PEOPLE ASKED IF I HAVE DONE ANY OTHER MOUNTAINS LIKE SNOWDONIA…. AND I ANSWERED NO I OFTEN GOT SOME WORRYING LOOKS.

8 DAYS SLEEPING IN A TENT WITH A COMPLETE STRANGER WITHOUT SHOWER OR BATH JUST A BOWL OF “WASHY WASHY” AS IT WAS CALLED (SMALL BOWL OF WATER AND BABY WIPES FOR THE WHOLE DAY) AND USING A PORTO LOO WAS ALL PART OF THE EXPERIENCE.THIS IS FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER DONE A DAY OF CAMPING IN HER LIFE AND GIVEN A CHANCE LOVES HER 4+ HOTELS.

EVERY DAY HAS BEEN A FULL DAY OF TRACKING ,WALKING NO LESS THAN 4-5 HOURS BUT MAINLY AROUND7-8 HOURS .THE LOCAL PORTERS WERE AMAZING THEY LOOKED AFTER US IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY WITH 3 MEALS AND SNACKS EVERY DAY AND IF NOTHING ELSE BY SINGING TO US TO KEEP OUR MORAL UP ON A HARD DAY.DAY 1 AND 2 WERE HARD AS WE JUST KEPT WALKING,STILL TRYING TO ADJUST AND ALREADY YOU COULD START FEELING THE EFFECTS OF AIR GETTING THINER.THE BREATHING GOT HARDER AND MINOR EFFORTS BECAME MORE OF A TASK.DAY 3 WAS FULL ON HARD WORK AND I LOVED IT. WE CLIMBED UP THE ROCKS UP THE BARRANCO WALL IT WAS A FULL BODY WORK OUT AS YOU HAD TO LITERALLY GRIP AND PULL YOURSELF UP USING UPPER AND LOWER BODY STRENGTH.

DAY 3 ALSO GAVE US A FIRST VICTIM OF ALTITUDE, LOVELY FRAN WAS TOO ILL TO CONTINUE AND HAD TO RETURN TO BASECAMP AND HOTEL.EMOTIONS HAD BEEN FLYING HIGH AS BY NOW WE WERE TIRED AND LOSING ONE OF US WHO WAS A STRANGER ONLY A FEW DAYS AGO , SEEMED LIKE WATCHING A FRIEND HAVING TO GIVE UP.

SUMMIT NIGHT STARTED AT 11.30PM!! AND WITH A “SNAKE OF” HEAD TORCHES WE FOLLOWED EACH OTHER THROUGH THE DARKNESS TO OUR FINAL DESTINATION.THE AIR WAS SO THIN, YOU EITHER WALKED OR TALKED.EVERY BREATH WAS GETTING HEAVIER AND HEAVIER .TEMPERATURE HAD DROPPED DOWN SO MUCH THAT EVEN MY WATER IN MY INSULATED WATER BAG HAD NOW FROZEN.ALL THE YEAR AND A HALF OF TRAINING AND TIRELESS FUNDRASING HAD NOW COME TO ITS GOAL BEING SO NEAR.

JUST WHEN IT SEEMED THAT THE NIGHT WOULD NEVER END WE CAUGHT THE GLIMPS OF SUNRISE APPEARING IN THE DISTANCE AS A SIGN OF POSSIBLE NEAR FINISH LINE.BY NOW I WAS REALLY STRUGGLING TO BREATH AS EVERY OUNCE OF MY ENERGY HAD BEEN USED UP.ONE OF THE GUIDES TOOK ME ASIDE TO ASSESS ME AND TOLD ME THAT THERE WAS ONLY AROUND 40 MIN TO THE FIRST SUMMIT POINT.I DUG DEEPER AND FOUND ENOUGH ENERGY TO CARRY.WE FINALLY REACHED THE “STELLA POINT” AT 5756 M AND THE ADRENALIN TOOK OVER.I HAVE NEVER FELT SO OVERWHELMED WITH PRIDE AND A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT. THE VIEWS OF GLACIERS WERE AMAZING.

WE SOON AFTER REACHED THE FINAL AND HIGHEST PEAK OF THE MOUNT KILIMANJARO “UHURU PEAK AT 5985M.

I HAVE NEVER CRIED SO MUCH FROM THE FEELING OF JOY AND SENCE OF ACHIEVEMENT LIKE I DID IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.

WE WALKED BACK DOWN FOR 5-6 HOURS AND AFTER THE LUNCH WALKED FURTHER TO OUR LAST CAMP ,BEFORE THE NEXT DAY GOING FOR OUR LAST WALK RETURNING TO THE BASECAMP.

I HAVE RAISED OVER £5600 IN AID OF YOUNG EPILEPSY BUT I HAVE ALSO GAINED THE MOST SPECIAL EXPERIENCE THAT HAS INSPIRED ME TO CARRY ON CHALLENGING MYSELF WHILE HOPEFULLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO OTHERS.

AINT NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH …..

Oil-Pulling for Oral Health

 

imageA lot has been written recently about a ‘new’ way to keep our teeth and gums healthy. ‘Oil-pulling’ claims to be a safe, effective alternative to traditional toothpaste and mouthwash.

Western society is becoming more health-conscious. We are now, more than ever, beginning to read the labels of the foods and drinks we consume. People are beginning to realise that a lot of the so-called healthy foods contain harmful chemicals. A trend is beginning: to make smarter decisions about what we eat, drink, put on our body, and keep in our home.

And on the back of this trend, ‘Oil-pulling’ has recently attracted a lot of publicity.

So what is oil-pulling?

The phrase “oil-pulling” comes from the process of the oil being “worked” in the mouth by pulling, pushing, and sucking it through the teeth. But it’s not a new therapy at all. It has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine.

In fact, the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita — which is over 2000 years old — describes oil-pulling as a way to improve oral health and prevent bad breath.

The procedure involves rinsing about one tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, bacteria are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet.

The longer you push and pull the oil through your mouth, the more bacteria are pulled free. Generally, about 10 minutes is enough, at which point the oil turns a milky white.

The oils used

Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell which is covered with a lipid (fatty) membrane. When these cells come into contact with oil they stick to each other.

Different oils have been suggested such as sesame and sunflower oil, but these oils both have omega 6 fats that are pro-inflammatory, and most of us have too much of these in our diet as it is. Coconut oil is preferred because 50% of the fat in coconut oil is made up of Lauric acid. Lauric acid is very well known for its antimicrobial actions. It inhibits Strep mutans that are the primary bacteria that cause tooth decay.

The mouth is the gateway to the body
There is no question that oil-pulling reduces the bacterial load in the mouth. When you consider the fact that a clean mouth may have between 1,000 and 100,000 bacteria on each tooth, and those that do not have a clean mouth may have between 100 million and a billion bacteria on each tooth, surely oil-pulling can’t hurt?

So how can oil pulling help us?

Bad breath (halitosis)
About 85% of bad breath comes from the mouth. The rest comes from the gastrointestinal tract.
Common factors that cause bad breath include gum disease, tooth disease, and a tongue coating. Some studies have indicated that oil-pulling is as effective as many mouthwashes in fighting bad breath.
Reducing plaque and gingivitis
Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums. One study showed that oil-pulling is as effective as over-the-counter mouthwashes in helping with plaque-induced gingivitis.

Whiter teeth
While lots of people claim that oil-pulling whitens teeth, there isn’t any published research on this. It’s only anecdotal.

Sjogren’s syndrome
A study in Canada found that oil-pulling had some benefits for those who have Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition that damages salivary glands and causes dry mouth*.

Pulling & eliminating toxins from the blood / body
Some people have proposed that oil-pulling will pull impurities from the blood. However, our gums don’t seem to allow this kind of exit from the bloodstream into the mouth. So any oil in our mouths won’t come into contact with blood, nor will it “extract” anything from it.

Are there any dangers?

Oil-pulling is pretty safe in general. But here are a couple of small cautions:
We are advised to swish the oil for about 10 minutes. Because of this, there’s a very small risk of accidentally inhaling the oil and getting lipid pneumonia (i.e. fluid buildup and potential infection).

However, so far, all the research on oil-pulling hasn’t been exactly convincing. Most studies looking at oil-pulling are small, short, or incomplete. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. It just means that the science isn’t there yet.

My advice is that oil-pulling could be beneficial to our mouths. But it does not mean giving up on brushing and flossing. Oil-pulling does not reverse the effects of tooth decay.
But how will you know if it’s actually made a difference?

Try a before-and-after test. The next time you’re coming in, let us know if you’re considering oil-pulling. We (your dentist and hygienist) can then make a series of checks, record them and review on your next appointment.

We can also help to see if oil-pulling is appropriate for you. If you have sensitive teeth or receding gums, it might be better for you to oil-pull only occasionally rather than daily.

The routine

First thing in the morning, before eating or brushing your teeth:
1. Take about a tablespoon of edible oil (such as sesame, coconut, or sunflower oil).
2. Put it in your mouth without swallowing.
3. Swish it around for 5-10 minutes.
4. At the end of the 5-10 minutes, spit it out.
5. Rinse your mouth completely with warm water.
6. Brush and floss your teeth as normal.

Good Luck.