A nation without teeth

Are we going to end up with a lot of people having their teeth removed because they’ve rotted?  Private practices seem to be going the American way – or rather the celebrity route – with whitening and perfect straight teeth the goal, but at a phenomenal price.  For some years it has been difficult to find an NHS dentist, so many of us have had to resort to private practices, although some do both private and NHS work.

The discrepancy in prices is quite incredible, and an Office of Fair Trading report has just highlighted how many dentists won’t do some treatments (such as bridges) on the NHS, forcing patients to pay privately.

Without intending to do research I had some personal experiences – one person in my family was provided with an estimate for £761.00 including several extractions right at the front of his mouth. He found an NHS dentist online and paid them a visit – he ended up paying less than £100 to get relief from his toothache, and was advised that he might need one extraction (not four).

Trying to get an appointment for myself I found that my dentist was no longer answering the phone – the upshot of this was that he had skipped the country. I was happy with my dentist – he had removed all my amalgam fillings, which I believe has made me healthier. I thought I’d try a new dentist and was shocked (a) to have to pay £86.90 for a check up and two (small) X-rays, and (b)  to be told I needed to see  a hygienist at £91.80.

Needless to say I decided not to go back and swapped to the afore-mentioned NHS dentist. The check-up cost £17.50 including X-rays, the hygienist costs £32.  To have a white filling I would have to pay privately as the NHS still only provides amalgam fillings (this is a whole other subject – see the article Mouthful of Mercury).

The moral of the story is don’t put up with ridiculous prices – shop around and yes there seem to be more NHS dentists out there.


Guest blog: Depression

Caroline Carr: Depression affects everyone’s life in one way or another – either directly through experiencing it yourself, or indirectly through loving or caring about someone who does. It is likely to be the result of a combination of some of the following: life circumstances – what has occurred, and what is occurring in the person’s life, the type of personality a person has, and how they deal with things generally, whether or not depression runs in the family, genes and DNA.

Depression can come on suddenly as the result of a trauma or stressful event – although it may not show up till some time afterwards. Or it can build up for years. Some people can have one bout during their lives – or several. Others feel sad and gloomy for months or years. In some cases, it never really goes away.

When a person is depressed, they can become so focused on their negative thoughts and feelings, that it becomes their normal mood state. They can’t seem to break this. To them, everything has a down side – as if they are stuck in an ever-shrinking, oppressive mental black box. They cannot just ‘snap out of it’ – they would if they could, because all they want is to feel better. People describe feeling as if their life is spiralling out of control; therefore any unhelpful behaviour is likely to be a result of that.

Everyone’s experience differs, and this may change as they sink into a deeper state of depression. It is thought that men and women experience and deal with depression differently too. Some people feel and exhibit anger, some do not. Many people do not have the energy to be angry. They may be in a state of lethargy and hopelessness.

Different types of depression are more debilitating than others – and more serious.

Categories and types include:

Bipolar Disorder (manic depression)
Generally characterized by severe mood swings – ‘up’ periods of mania with huge surges of energy and activity, and sometimes irritability and anger, then severe crashing ‘lows’ – the depression. Some people only experience these occasionally, and others may have up to five or six episodes a year. For more details see: www.mdf.org.uk

Post-natal depression:
This can be very serious, and the mother and others around her may not recognise it for what it is. Often it doesn’t show up until months after the baby is born.  A woman suffering with post natal depression needs a great deal of support.  For more details see: http://www.pni-uk.com/ , and  www.apni.org

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
SAD affects some people over the winter months due to reduced exposure to light. This is thought to affect the chemistry in the brain. It is fairly common in the UK, and the symptoms are similar to those of depression.  But, some people are affected adversely by bright sunlight and hot weather too, particularly if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety. For more details, see the article on Healthy Soul: Are you sad?

Clinical Depression 
This is when a person’s mood is generally low, and this affects all aspects of their life for longer than a few weeks. Often, it’s not triggered by anything in particular.  It seems to come from a shift or change ‘within’ the person, and there may be no obvious reason for it. 

I think it’s really important to see the doctor in the first instance, because any symptoms could be due to something else, such as another illness or infection, or a deficiency of some kind. Assuming that there are no medical issues though, treatment offered usually includes medication, often combined with talking therapy such as psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However, many complementary therapies work really well in the treatment of depression.

Here are a few links to organisations who are doing fantastic work to raise awareness and to provide information and support about depression and other aspects of mental health:


There is also: www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx
And my own organisation to support partners: www.mypartnerisdepressed.com

Caroline Carr is the founder of  http://www.mypartnerisdepressed.com/. She is a hypnotherapist and life coach and the author of  Living With Depression – how to cope when your partner is depressed.


The regrets of people dying

It really captured the media when a palliative nurse in Australia revealed the most common regrets of people dying and put them into a book entitled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. They were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

It is possible to avoid such regrets in life and leave peacefully without any sorrow over the past.  There are many things that we don’t have control over, such as other people dying, but we can’t really count them as our own regrets. What is key in a health sense is that Bronnie Ware, the Australian nurse, claimed that those people who settled for a mediocre existence by suppressing their feelings to keep the peace, developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried. This is real acknowledgement of the connection between mind, body and spirit.

She also claimed that every male patient she nursed felt that they had misse dtheir children’s youth and their partner’s companionship through working too hard. These men felt sad that they had spent a large part of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. 

It’s a real lesson in living life in the present and being aware that you are being true to yourself.  In the words of the author, ‘Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.’


Cut the drugs bill with complementary therapies

Wouldn’t the government love to cut the £8.2 billion spent every year on drugs? Wouldn’t it be great if doctors offered you some alternatives –  acupuncture  for the pains in your joints (instead of drugs), reflexology for your problems with conceiving (instead of fertility drugs), or chiropractic for your bad back (instead of anti-inflammatories), or hypnotherapy for your anxiety (instead of anti-depressants)?  

Despite the fact that 50 per cent of the British public have tried complementary therapies, there is still a concerted campaign by certain parts of the media and medical establishment to quash them, citing lack of evidence. The public, however, is not so concerned with scientific evidence (provided there are no safety implications, which in the case of gentle therapies there are not) and they just want something that makes them better.

Many people are driven to complementary therapies because there of lack of success with conventional treatments. For example, IBS, cystitis, multiple sclerosis, indigestion, headaches, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), migraines, eczema, asthma, infertility, back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and so the list goes on, are not always that well resolved with drugs, which tend to suppress symptoms rather than cure them.  However, they normally have to pay for them.

Lots of people choose to try acupuncture, nutrition, reflexology, homeopathy, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, in addition to their conventional treatments, or some prefer the more natural approach.   As the programme The Food Hospital has shown changing your diet can do wonders for your health.  And there are no side-effects, so what can you lose? If you try it and it works you’re better, if it doesn’t you haven’t damaged your immune system or encountered unpleasant side-effects.

A few enlightened practices offer access to therapies, and acupuncture is quite widely available on the NHS. Read our articles: Complementary Therapies on the NHS; NHS provision of complementary therapies: Visionary healthcare.

Is technology affecting our health?

Will we ever know the truth about the effects on our health of mobiles phones and wireless technology? Or will it be as some people predict that in the future they will be regarded as smoking is now – a big health hazard?

Schools could be pushed to ban mobile phones and wi-fi networks because of the alleged damage to children’s developing brains. The Council of Europe is following up on recent research and is also concerned about portable phones and baby monitors in the home. With one third of the world using mobile (cell) phones it’s hard to go anywhere now that is away from the electro-radiation that is around us all the time. It has also been claimed that it causes permanent damage to DNA in our body cells.

It is a fact that it’s hard to get away from an electronic environment now wherever you go because there are always phone masts and wi fi systems, even in remote areas. So even if you decided to make a stand yourself it would make little difference.

Natural health advocates believe that at best electro-radiation saps our energy, leading to tiredness, lethargy and depression. People with chronic fatigue syndrome are well advised not to sleep in rooms with mobile phones or wireless networks. The best we can do as individuals is to switch everything off at night, and not have the mobile by the bed as an alarm (a popular habit among young people).

The other similarities to the tobacco industry are that any studies carried out by the mobile phone or computer industry seem to claim that there is no harm whatsoever. Once again the consumer is left wondering, and as this is not http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifonly an integral part of our lives, but also very profitable for the companies involved, it’s unlikely it’s going to disappear any time soon.