How I discovered the awesome oral power of the Omega 3 fatty Acid DHA……By total accident.

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash

It was just before the implementing of the pandemic-related quarantine in New York that I started experiencing sporadic pricks of pain in my lower right jaw.It was so infrequent I initially brushed it off as unimportant,just one of those quirks the body occasionally tosses up to keep life intriguing.But then,as the quarantine was in full swing the increased frequency of the discomfort became too intrusive to ignore.I was thus compelled to seek an emergency appointment with my dentist.As had become the norm at the time,appointments were only accepted on an emergency basis,and thankfully for me,the presence of pain easily met the criteria for such a case.

My appointment came and while I was like a kid waiting on Santa on Christmas eve,I couldn’t have been more disappointed(but not for the reason you might think)when I left my dentist’s office.After pinpointing the exact area of offense an innumerable amount of scans from every angle known to geometry revealed absolutely nothing wrong with my teeth.In fact,not just teeth but gums and entire oral cavity was revealed to be in perfect shape.And yes,this is the disappointment I alluded to a moment ago.I was never so disappointed to hear such good news.Normally,to hear your dentist declare that your oral health is flawless would be enough to take your friends on an ‘all drinks on me’ outing,but I was so desperately hoping he would find something to target and focus on that I was quite crestfallen on leaving his office.So what was I to do,but go home and hope that the tooth fairy would work some magic and make everything alright.Short answer,tooth fairy was a no-show.

The next few months would see my condition elevate with sharper,more sustained spikes and to this day I have no idea how I got through those summer nights,many of which I wasn’t allowed to lay my head down for a few minutes without being roused by the pain of purgatory. My second appointment was inevitable and felt excruciatingly long in arriving.Short answer,different day,same result.A gazillion more scans was no better than two at isolating the problem.

Appointment three came but this time with a twist.Reinforcements were brought in in the form of one of my dentist’s colleagues to attend the session in the hopes that four eyes might see something two couldn’t.But even as I was being relentlessly bludgeoned senseless literally under the dentists’ gaze there was an air of resignation at the end when once again they came up empty.I was referred to an oral surgeon and just before vacating the chair to gather myself I was given a small bottle of the popular mouth rinse Chlorhexidine,just ‘in case there was an infection’.I tried the formula and it worked almost miraculously to reduce my pain quite significantly.I had even contemplated the possibility of not needing the oral surgeon appointment after all,given how dramatic the initial effect of the Chlorhexidine was.But then after a staunch precaution from my dentist’s assistant I decided it would be wisest to see what the OS had to say.

Well surprise,surprise,turns out the OS found nothing noteworthy but for a barely perceptible speck that he was guessing,at best,could be a localized form of periodontitis.Then,as soon as I breathed a sign of relief that we were finally getting somewhere he totally flattened me by casually fessing up that this wasn’t his domain and I would need to see a periodontist(gum specialist).By now you must be picturing me writing this from inside my cell for choking someone to death.Plus,to add insult to injury,the mouth rinse totally lost it’s effectiveness and I had no choice but to eventually cease usage as the pain rebounded with a vengeance.

And now,for faithfully hanging in there to this point,you’re now justly rewarded with my eureka moment.

I had long been aware of the predominant importance of the omega 3 fatty acid DHA for brain health.After all,a quick delve into the literature would reveal that the brain’s fundamental constituents i.e.neurons,synapses,neurotransmitters etc. were either made up of and/or highly dependent on Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA of which DHA was the most abundantly used type.This clearly showed that DHA was not exactly a freeloading squatter in the cerebral arena but a major player that was easily depleted due to it’s high demand and needed constant replacement.As my general daily studies had become more intense,I figured,partially intuitively ,that I really needed to increase my intake of DHA from an occasional meager one gram.Still not so sure how my new sense of conviction came about I jumped right in at the deep end at 4 grams a day and then quickly readjusted to 3 grams.

Confident my brain was now receiving some much needed TLC,within a few days I also couldn’t help but notice a very perceptible improvement in how my jaw felt.The pain seemed to dampen somewhat and had a hard time trying to reproduce those shooting volleys of shocks that I had almost come to accept as my new reality.Initially I didn’t make a connection between my newfound relief and anything in particular but the intrigue was so gripping that it took less than two weeks of meticulous recollection for me to be fully convinced that the only real recent change I had done to my life,dietary or otherwise,that could coincide with the improvement was my increased DHA intake.By then,any semblance of pain had totally disappeared.In less than three weeks!!As the scientific jargon would say,this wasn’t mere correlation,this was causation in full effect.Admittedly,after nearly two years of being traumatized it was hard to kick the feeling that some nasty surprise was waiting in ambush when I let my guard down.But it was well and truly over,purgatory was no more.

Docosahexaenoic Acid(DHA) had accomplished what all the pristine tools,brilliant brains and analysis of modern dentistry could not.But as compelling as it was,how much was merely subjective and theoretical?So my next manner of business would be for the very first time see what big science had to say on the role,if any,of DHA in oral health.And boy was I unprepared for the incredible list of results research after research had long established between DHA benefits for periodontal issues https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2014/07/14/DHA-omega-3-linked-to-significantly-improved-periodontal-outcomes-Harvard-data.I mean,how could I have missed it?So much it was.Much of those benefits are down to the anti-inflammatory properties that DHA possesses in abundance.

Now,in hindsight,it made total sense why all the scanning,probing and analysis would have yielded nothing of note.My dentist and his hapless colleagues were all looking for what was in essence a phantom.A phantom in the form of inflammation.This inflammation(most likely powered by some very virulent bacteria)was being generated somewhere deep within my oral cavity well out of plain sight.Like most inflammation,this was systemic and was simply being projected and manifested in my jawline but never really existed there in any real concrete,quantifiable sense.It’s kind of like when you use a magnifying glass to focus and project light to a point that is away from the glass itself.Only a substance as uniquely powerful as DHA with it’s fierce anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties could locate and squelch such a menace from it’s murky hiding area.

As it turned out,avoiding the appointment with the periodontist afforded me yet another very meaningful life experience,albeit on an existential level.Obviously,it felt great to side-step what would have been a pretty hefty bill for a self-paying chap like myself,but assuming they found the source of the issue,the periodontist would have more than likely taken a medicalised,pharmaceutical approach as a fix.I’m guessing something akin to a super strength version of the Chlorhexidine,or worse.At an existential level this outcome would have surely deprived me of that priceless inner experience that can only come via a divine moment of self-discovery.What a loss that would have been.

As I complete this writing with the nearly two years nightmare well behind me,I have been over five months totally pain free.And though I suspect that even two grams of DHA might work,I’ve stuck with what definitely worked,3 grams a day,and couldn’t be happier.

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A super cool Barbadian introvert who loves laughter,soccer and nature in it’s infinite forms.

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Norman Pile

Norman Pile

A super cool Barbadian introvert who loves laughter,soccer and nature in it’s infinite forms.

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