Posts Tagged ‘hygiene’

I don’t brush my teeth

This is how I get all my hot dates.

“Hi, I’m Pepper.  I don’t brush my teeth.  Want to make out?”



But really.   I don’t brush.   This is the point at which back-pedalling usually becomes wise.  “Well, no, of course I brush my teeth, that would just be ridiculous.  Honestly.”

But I do not.  My name is Pepper, and I do not brush my teeth.

Except for when I feel like it or when I consume carbohydrates, which might be once every day or every other day or five or so.

So shoot me.  I do brush my teeth.  I’m a little bit of a liar.   But I don’t do it for hygiene, and I do it very reluctantly, and infrequently, and angrily.  Fuck you society!  Who are you to fuck up my teeth and then make me give you money to fix them?  Who are you to tell me what to eat and what to clean?  Who are you to create banes of humanity such as gingivitis and root canals?

When I do brush, it’s for vanity’s sake.  It’s true that they look a bit whiter having residues scrubbed off of them.  I’ve whitened them before, too.  I really do care about my teeth.  I also always make sure my breath smells nice–I’ve spent much of the last few years asking very blunt people about my odor just to make sure–so that’s a big motivator.  But other than that, I just don’t do it.  I don’t enjoy brushing my teeth.  It’s a waste of an entire 12 minutes of my day, which adds up to more than 4000 minutes per year.  I suppose it does give me that “clean” feeling everyone raves about, but what if my mouth never feels dirty in the first place?  What if it’s never swimming in plaque?  What if I never put garbage in it, so no swarms of bacteria can ever fester?

Because I don’t.  And that, my friends, is my case.

This is how we develop cavities:

Bacteria are always present in our mouths.  They help enzymes in our saliva break down food, and then they get to enjoy the kickback benefits of their altruism, which is a benevolent living environment.  What’s more, in today’s day and age, they get to go crazy.  Our sugar consumption is through the roof.  Given that glucose is saliva bacteria’s preferred fuel, sugar enables them to hang out on the surface of our teeth and multiply.  Proteins in our saliva help them stick together to form a plaque biofilm (ever feel like your teeth are fuzzy?  This is it.)  A byproduct of glucose metabolism is acid.  Acid leaks out of the plaque biofilm and onto the surface of our teeth, reacting with the basic Ca/Mg carbonate, and dissolve s it.  Poof, there goes our bones.  Voila, here come the fillings.

I have yet to find any reference online about bacteria in our mouths consuming anything but sugar.  And surely you’ve noticed as well– that ‘fuzzy tooth’ feeling really does only follow carbohydrate consumption.   With a diet low in carbohydrates, plaque builds slowly.  A day or two can pass before anything might seem even the slightest bit off, and then one can brush, happily.

These bacteria are also the ones that go wild at nighttime and give us morning breath.  So, while my morning breath definitely hasn’t disappeared, it’s certainly become more pleasant since cutting carbs.  I like this.  A few other people in my life have enjoyed this too.

That said, we have conventional wisdom to thank (again) for a whole host of unpleasant diseases.  Bad breath, cavities, tooth erosion, gingivitis, perionditis, and something really pleasant called trench mouth.

The absolute worst part is that no one seems to make sense of the correlations between dentistry and wider health.  Idiots.  Gum disease is widely known to be associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pancreatic cancer. This time, it’s the Harvard School of Public Health claiming that “our study provides strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.”  Jesus.  Can they never look at the bigger picture?  What do diabetes, tooth decay, and the pancreas have in common?  With heart disease and stroke on top of that?  I know that these are just correlations, and that I cannot just fling my hands around in the air and shout “meaningful cause and effect!  meaningful cause and effect!” the way the Harvard researchers are doing,  but I am going to continue to be angry when I brush my teeth.  I’ve got a hunch about the connection between these diseases, and I will not go down without a fight.

My name is Pepper.  And I do not brush my teeth.*



02 2011

Go Poo-less, and do it with beer

Once people get into the swing of eating paleo, they often start exploring aspects of living primally that go beyond simple diet.  In doing so, it is common to encounter the Poo-less challenge.   What is the Poo-less challenge?  The Poo-less challenge is a grand edifice– an obelisk in the primal sphere– a rite of passage for the truly daring! (*or bored, cheap, or moderately intelligent).  I heard the call.  And I rose to it.   I emerged from the experience a transcendent being.

Of sorts.

The general idea behind eschewing shampoo is elegant in its simplicity.  Just like with food, humans today spend far too many resources trying to fix things that aren’t broken.  We don’t need soap or toothpaste the same way that we don’t need to take calcium supplements.  Honestly I’m at a bit of a loss in the shower these days.  I spend 80 percent of my time there with water running through my eyes, staring blankly at shelves where all of my products used to be. If we run a tight, smooth ship, then everything in our body takes, in theory, good enough care of itself.

So if you stop washing your hair, and if you eat a good diet, will you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by gloriously voluminous locks?   Hell no.  First, you have to undergo a greasy transition period, in which your scalp adjusts to producing less sebum, which varies in severity and length depending on how poorly you treated your scalp in the first place.  For example, I used to have to wash my hair every 18 hours to maintain a decent consistency.  That’s pretty rough.  So it  took me several weeks to coax my scalp back to normalcy.  Today, I wash about once every four days.   For this rinse, I use a baking soda mix (1 tbsp baking soda to 1 tbsp water) to draw down the oil.  This procedure is well-established in the world of Poo-less champions.

But I’ve got to be honest: baking soda isn’t the best product I’ve ever put in my hair.  The scientists who design shampoos have a pretty complicated business, and they aren’t successful for nothing.  Let’s be real.  So even while I achieved adequately shiny, full, and manageable hair while using just baking soda, it was still not ideal.  It is worth noting that I tried adding in vinegar rinses, but found they did little but make my hair congeal in this funny, waxy fashion.

In enters my savior, the book Natural Beauty at Home by Janice Cox. I really love this book, and I have a number of dog-eared pages in it.  The book is a set of recipes, in essence, for beauty products that you can make at home, using ingredients as simple as avocado oil and beeswax.   Now, I am as thrilled as the next girl to accept my body exactly as is, but something that makes me feel soft and luxurious and natural once in a while really is quite nice.  I recommend it highly.

Anyway.  Janice writes a number of different shampoo recipes, but she highly recommends one particular recipe.  It contains:



Baking Soda

Reduced Beer

That’s it.  The recommendation is to reduce one bottle of beer in a saucepan to about 1/4 its volume, and then add it to a base shampoo mix, whatever that may be (Suave, for example, works just fine).   Sounds simple enough.  But I’m a shade too lazy to turn on the stove.   This is my method, instead:  Do a baking soda rinse.   Pour half a can of beer on my head.   Exit.


Wait.  Isn’t a Shower Beer intended for drinking the alcohol?  Not pouring it all over your head?   Sure, if you’re a traditionalist.   Go ahead and drink your beer in the shower.  But don’t forget to take your League of Nations and Model T with you.

Beer seems to work for me.  And wonderfully.  I have received unequivocally better results with beer than I ever did with high end conditioning products.   My hair is soft and tangle-free and there’s not a lick of grease for at least a couple days.  So this is my solution, and I love it.  I’ve done a fair bit of searching online to see why beer has this effect on hair, but everyone insists it is a mystery.  Something having to do with proteins or starches, maybe some hydrophobic ligands.   Who knows.

There you have it.  I don’t consider this to be the most compelling or important habit in the world, but it IS a fun one, and, unsurprisingly, one of the few things people like to ask me about.  So ask, comment away.

Tags: , ,


02 2011