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The OraMedia site is based, primarily, on
the vast collection of work produced by Dr. Robert O. Nara on
the prevention and reversal of tooth decay and gum disease. The purpose
of this site is to continue in raising public awareness that the
condition of having bad teeth, gum inflam-
This interview was originally published in the March/April 1979 issue of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine.
The Plowboy Interview with Dr. Robert O.
Nara - Page 2 of 2
Home Dentistry: Dental Medicine in Your Kitchen
Dr. Robert Nara
yourself a little about home dentistry with this excerpt from Dr.
Robert Nara's book, 'How To Become Dentally Self-Sufficient.'
substances have been handed down for generations as folk medicines:
baking soda and common table salt. Claims for the properties of these
familiar chemicals range from the ridiculous to the sublime: They've
probably been "known" to cure almost anything, at one time or another.
Saline solution (salt water) in any concentration where the salt can be tasted will be a hypertonic solution: It will draw water from the cells of tissue bathed in it. A hypertonic condition in the mouth will instantly and automatically cause the salivary glands to go into overtime production. This is something to remember if you are frequently in places where water is not available for "normal" tooth brushing. A dry mixture of soda and salt is not inconvenient to take along on a camping trip, for example. Using this "dentifrice" without water is easy: The mouth's water fountains will provide more than enough.
capacity of salt—to act as a hypertonic and draw water (fluids) from
tissues—should be kept in mind for another reason: When teeth "act up"
and pain sets in; there is often (perhaps usually) a buildup of fluids
in the area of the affected tooth. Wouldn't it make sense to use a
"medicine" which helped reduce this fluid pressure?
Hand me the salt, please. I'm getting a toothache...
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Due to the several factors involved in the process of re-mineralizing, everything must come together at the right place with perfect timing...another one of nature's delicate balancing acts.
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People keep asking me,
how do I use this stuff?"
|Freedom From Dental Disease! continued from
NARA: Yes, I did. As a first step, I filed an appeal, based on what I felt was the unconstitutionality of Michigan's dental codes . . . and charging, also, that the board was guilty of misconduct because of the manner in which the proceedings were held and the findings reached.
You see, the Board had, as usual, hired a hearing examiner-in this instance he was an administrative judge named Wayne Lusk--to rule on the case. But Lusk found me innocent: He said that the Oramedics-related charges "failed to establish a violation"! The Board, however, threw Lusk's report out, upheld the charges against me, and then also voted never to use Mr. Lusk--who had 35 years' experience as a hearing examiner-- again!
At any rate, I filed an appeal-- based upon the discrepancies in the dental codes and on this "irregularity'' --with the state appeals court.
PLOWBOY: And did the appeals court give you any help?
NARA: No, the court was also presented with a "counterstatement of facts'' from the State Board of Dentistry, and it denied my appeal for "lack of merit and grounds presented''.
PLOWBOY: Have you taken any further steps to clear yourself?
NARA: I've appealed to the Michigan State Supreme Court. They've had my appeal for some 10 months now and have yet to decide if they'll even hear the case! This delay is curious, as I was assured--by Mr. Bruce Lindstrom, who was then the aide in charge of Upper Peninsula affairs for Governor Milliken--that my appeal would be handled quickly and that a stay of my license suspension would be granted, automatically, while the appeal was in progress. Lindstrom told me this when the appeal was first filed. He has since resigned, and I've still gotten no word from the Supreme Court.
PLOWBOY: It does seem as if you're being singled out for ''special treatment''. Do you have any theories that could explain this apparent vendetta?
NARA: In my opinion the whole thing boils down to one simple fact: The dental establishment is scared to death that the public is going to realize that the entire profession has been making a living by repairing the results of a disease they could have been curing all along! I just happen to be, at the present time, the person who is in the best position to expose organized dentistry.
Nothing was resolved in my prior encounters with the county and state dental associations, because they dropped their charges and swept mine under the table. This time, however, I think there's going to be a winner and a loser, and my opponents are pulling out all the stops to keep me under wraps. They're soliciting a lot of support, too--by using loaded terms like "unethical conduct"-among those indoctrinated dentists who don't want anyone upsetting their very lucrative apple carts.
PLOWBOY: Why do you refer to "unethical conduct" as a loaded term?
NARA: I think many people would feel that the phrase has an almost "dirty" ring to it . . . it sounds like it has something to do with morality. This is not really the case, however, because--in medical jargon--the functional meaning of "ethics" is usually "not squealing on another doctor". If the other guy makes a mistake, you are expected--because of your professional ethics--not to expose him. You can imagine, then, why the dental establishment has come so unglued about my case . . . because I haven't discriminated, I haven't singled out any individuals, I'm exposing the whole profession's lack of concern about disease prevention! And, of course, if there weren't anything there to expose, it's unlikely that I would have drawn such a violent reaction.
Strangely enough, however, the whole battle could have been avoided. I wouldn't have had anything to expose if the dental establishment had allowed me to continue to practice and develop my methods. It would have been easy--and mutually beneficial--for all of us to work together and share each other's ideas for the good of the patients and of the profession. But, when they took my license away and threw me out of their associations, they left me no recourse but to fight, and that's what I'm doing.
PLOWBOY: And how are you striking back at the associations that have attacked you?
NARA: I've filed a suit against the American Dental Association, the Michigan State Dental Association, and the Copper County District Dental Society for eight million dollars in damages. I didn't want to sue, and I still don't, but i have no other way to defend myself at this point.
PLOWBOY: The National Health Federation Bulletin recently cited a 1974 study in which a group of dentists were asked whether they felt that they had an effective preventive dentistry program in their offices. If the answer was "no", the study requested the reasons for this lack. Some 88% of the dentists questioned explained the absence of such a program by saying that they were uncertain about the financial aspects of disease prevention. Do you feel that this sort of "office economics" is behind some of the opposition to your "Oramedics" approach to preventive dentistry?
NARA: Oh, I'm sure it is! For example, did you realize that there's a $30-million-a-year business going on in denture teeth alone . . . I don't mean full dentures, just the little white beans that dentists stick into the plastic form that they call a denture. And that figure only represents one small item. If you multiply it by all of the filling materials, bridges, inlays, and so forth, you can see that there is a tremendous amount of financial interest in maintaining the disease process.
There's another angle to this economic concern, too. When we all but eliminated polio we didn't put physicians out of business ... in fact, we couldn't ever do without M.D.'s ... because we seem to replace every disease that we are able to eliminate with another that was almost unheard of before. But dentistry is--for all intents and purposes--based on one disease. If you can eliminate that disease--and you can! --the job market for dentists would eventually be limited to cosmetic work and regular preventive checkups. The future simply wouldn't hold enough work for the number of dentists that we have today.
I've tried to discuss this possibility in my lectures, to calm the fears that it creates among my cohorts. After all, those people that are practicing today don't have a thing to worry about. There's so much dental disease in this country right now that we could all spend the rest of our lives just trying to correct the existing problems! I feel, however, that we are morally obligated to prevent disease whenever and wherever we can ... and that the focal point of our efforts has to come in children's dentistry, where the damage can be stopped before it starts.
Of course, the ADA would claim that it does concentrate on prevention for children . . . with things like the Children's Dental Health Week. But the fact is that those programs have been totally ineffective.
For example, our dental establishment constantly assures us that we have the finest system of dental care in the world. Yet a study was recently done in New Zealand to determine how many school children--out of a random sampling of 10,000-were missing any permanent teeth. That study turned up 18 students who had already lost one or more. In a similar study made in the U.S., however, 6,000 out of a random group of 10,000 were already missing one or more permanent teeth. And the discrepancy shown by these two studies--the difference between 18 children and 6,000 who have lost irreplaceable teeth-is attributable to the fact that New Zealand has a dental nurse program for its schoolchildren. Of course, we have children's dental programs too ... and the evidence damns them as worthless.
PLOWBOY: You touched upon the subject of dentures while we were discussing the financial pressures that may cause dentists to resist preventive programs. Yet you yourself do not make dentures . . . can you tell me the reason that you don't?
NARA: Because I'm not motivated to provide that service. Dentures are the end of the road, and--in my opinion--a dentist selling dentures is akin to a physician peddling coffins. It seems to me that it's almost immoral for a healer to spend too much time and effort cleaning up after a preventable illness that has run its course. Naturally, someone has to make these prosthetic devices, but I choose not to.
PLOWBOY: Would you say that American dentistry places a heavy emphasis on dentures?
NARA: Very much so. Dentures are, for one thing, about the most profitable service that a dentist can provide. You might not know this, but dental laboratories often don't charge more than $25 a plate to prepare a set of dentures for a dentist. And the finished product-$50 worth of work for both upper and lower plates--might cost the patient as much as seven or eight hundred dollars! In fact, the lab costs on most dental services are usually less than 20% of the fee charged to the patient. The profits are tremendous! I feel that, because of this huge profit potential, dentures should be taken out of the hands of the dentists!
In fact, a dentist named Dr. W.W. Alport tried--back in 1877 --to have denture-making removed from the curriculum in dental schools. Alport was ahead of his time, but I think this change will have to come about. After all, if our profession is supposed to be trying to save teeth, doesn't it constitute a kind of conflict of interest to have this tremendous economic return for selling "crutches"?
PLOWBOY: I think many people will see it that way. But your Oramedics program, on the other hand, does concentrate upon saving teeth. Could you tell me precisely how Oramedics works, and what facts and figures you can cite to prove that it has been successful in your nearly 20 years of practice?
NARA: First and foremost. Oramedics is a method of reaching the patient . . . it's a kind of consumer-protection dentistry. To put it another way. Oramedics is a combination of scientific tests and a psychological delivery system. The tests show the ecology of the mouth and can monitor the improvement or degeneration of that ecology, while the delivery system motivates the patient to continually improve the health of his or her teeth and gums. Now, it might sound egotistical to say that our message reaches people better than the traditional "patient education programs" do, but egotistical or not, that statement is true . . . and our success is based upon the logic inherent in the program, not on my charming personality!
When a patient comes into my Oramedics office, he or she is given--as a part of the routine examination--a U.S. Navy plaque index test. Now, most people will be curious about this test, because it's unfamiliar to them. The staff then explains what the test is: that it was developed and is in constant use by the Navy, and that it is a means of measuring the amount of plaque--a film made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva --which is adhering to the teeth. From that point. most folks want to know how the test relates to them and how they can improve their "score".
Similarly, when we ask the patient to spit into a little bottle, he or she will usually ask why we're doing this. The question is a logical one, and we answer that the saliva sample will be tested to let us know the amount of bacteria that the mouth contains. And, once the person understands the reasons for the tests, he or she is told that--if we all work together--we can eradicate most of the plaque and bacteria ... and thus create an oral ecology that will no longer support tooth decay or gum disease!
Of course, most folks become a bit suspicious upon hearing this. But, we go on to explain that their suspicion is a product of an "old" frame of reference ... and that the frame of reference will have to be changed because Oramedics doesn't accept tooth decay or bad gums.
The two tests, then, help the dentist understand whatever problems are present. But, more important, they also help the patient see the problems. And, once you let someone understand his or her disease--and then convince that person that the disease can be simply and inexpensively cured--you can expect that he or she will cooperate with you to get the illness cleared up.
Over a period of almost 20 years of using these methods, we have never failed to eliminate dental disease from the mouth of anyone who has cooperated with us. Of course, we have had some folks say, "Dr. Nara. you're some kind of a nut." and just get up and go out the door.
PLOWBOY: What percentage of your patients have refused to follow the program and left your practice?
NARA: We've kept careful records on that. Over the years we've lost between three and five percent of our patients because they weren't willing to try--or stick with-- the program.
PLOWBOY: That leaves you with quite an impressive "success ratio''.
NARA: And the people who do stay to listen get our message, and once they get the message, it stands to reason that they'll follow through. I mean, who really wants to have bad teeth? Then, of course, once the results begin to show up--which is usually in a matter of weeks--these patients feel very proud of themselves, and rightly so ... because Oramedics is self-help dentistry. The dentist's office becomes a place where the patient can check the progress that he or she is making toward having a completely disease-free mouth!
You could say that Oramedics is to dental health as Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's "aerobics" is to physical fitness. When Cooper wanted to bring his running program to the people he said, in effect, "Look, you clowns, your blood vessels are going to hell, you need to get some oxygen pumping around in there, and the only way you can do that is with exercise! " And Cooper designed a simple test: All you had to do was to see how far you could run, walk, and crawl in 12 minutes, then check your distance against the figures in the Aerobics book to find out what kind of shape you were in.
And, the book also described methods to improve your score. If you follow Cooper's recommendations, you will almost certainly improve your physical fitness. It's the same with Oramedics, if you follow the instructions contained in our books and material, you will almost certainly improve your oral health. Now, before Aerobics was published people knew that exercise was good . . . but how many folks did you see out jogging then? Today, of course, there are millions of people who have personal running programs. I jog myself, every morning, but I didn't until somebody reached me! That's what Oramedics does: It allows the dentist to reach his or her patients, and those people do start cleaning their mouths . . . and clean teeth do not decay and they do not foster gum disease. It's really that simple.
PLOWBOY: Dr. Nara, many people are going to read this interview, and I'd suspect that a number of them will want to try Oramedics for themselves. Is there any way that these people can locate an Oramedics practitioner in their areas? NARA: Not at this time . . . at least not without great difficulty. There are some 600 practicing Oramedics Fellows in the world today, but--because of the tremendous confrontation that's going on--those who live in the U.S. have to "keep a low profile''. If someone were to call one of these practitioners and ask. ''Doctor, do you do Oramedics? ". . . the dentist might well be afraid to say yes, for fear of reprisals from the dental associations.
PLOWBOY: Because your yellow pages ad simply said that you practiced Oramedics ... and that was one of the factors that led to your loss of license.
NARA: Exactly, for the simple reason that the dental profession doesn't recognize Oramedics--or any form of preventive dentistry--as a specialty.
PLOWBOY: Well, since Oramedics dentists are not readily available, can you describe an "aerobics" kind of oral hygiene program that could be followed at home
Over a period of almost 20 years of using these methods, we have never failed to eliminate dental disease from the mouth of anyone who has cooperated with us ... anyone who was willing to try.
... or even on a remote farmstead?
NARA: The first thing that I would recommend-- to any persons interested in having a healthy mouth--is much like the first step in the aerobics program: that is, they should take a test to find out where they stand. This sort of evaluation is necessary before a course of action can be planned.
Now, the best of these tests is the saliva examination that I mentioned before, the "lactobacillus test". And that examination is within reach of anyone who has access to the postal system. People can mail in a saliva sample, have the laboratory work performed, and receive a very specific report ... which will detail their oral health problems and tell them what to do in order to cure those problems.
PLOWBOY: Tell me how and where these samples can be sent.
NARA: We are offering this service through Oramedics International. If someone writes to us saying that he/she would like to have an Oramedics evaluation, we will mail back a sample jar and a series of forms to fill out. The forms detail both dental and medical histories. Then, we'll report our findings--based upon the lactobacillus count and the patient's case history and recommend a home care, self-help program which will enable the person to improve his or her oral ecology while spending as little as five minutes a day on dental hygiene. We also will ask that another saliva sample be submitted after the patient has followed our recommendations for a month. Most people will be well on the way to dental health by then, and we can put them on a "maintenance program" which--if followed--will almost insure a lifetime of freedom from dental disease!
In addition to these services, anyone requesting an evaluation will receive a 20-page booklet and a tape cassette explaining the background of the Oramedics program. The total cost for both tests, plus the evaluation, the recommendations, and so forth is $24. (This test is no longer available. -Ed.)
PLOWBOY: That sounds quite reasonable.
NARA: This system is something that we've devised since my license was suspended. When the dental associations stopped me from drilling and filling, I decided to find another way to help the public understand their mouths and keep their teeth and gums healthy. I don't need a license to perform this service ... anyone who understands oral physiology and microbiology could do the same thing.
PLOWBOY: Are most of the materials that you would recommend available without a prescription?
NARA: Yes ... in fact, we describe all of the items that are needed, and the patient can then either procure them in a drugstore or order the materials directly from Oramedics International.
PLOWBOY: It sounds as if we may well be entering an era of do-it-yourself dentistry! How might this trend--assuming that the Oramedics approach gains public acceptance--change the American dental care system?
NARA: The major change I foresee is that organized dentistry will be forced--by public opinion--to create a special field for preventive dentists. There are over 15,000 physicians in this country who are board-certified in preventive medicine . . . but not one dentist who is so recognized.
Therefore, I feel that the dental associations will have to develop some form of certification for those dentists who wish to specialize in treating the cause of the disease rather than simply repairing the damage that the illness does.
When this recognition becomes available, there will probably be a split between those people who are interested in prevention and those men and women who are more concerned with prosthesis ... dentures, partials, that sort of thing. In fact. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a violent parting of the ways occur, a split that would--in effect--create two specific professions.
Another, although less significant, change will take place on the legislative level: Dentists will be allowed to advertise in all parts of the country. Some states, of course, already allow medical advertising, but almost every dental ad that's placed-- today-- is denture related . . .''Plates: In by 10, Out by 5", that sort of thing. You'd have to look long and hard to find a dentist who advertises him- or herself to be a proponent of curing the disease!
PLOWBOY: Is this lack of "preventive" advertising due to the fact that the profession doesn't certify prevention as a specialty?
NARA: That's one of the reasons. Primarily, however, our shortage of dentists who practice prevention is due to the fact that the "system" places an economic premium on the repair and replacement of teeth. Even the insurance companies that are now involved in dentistry are mainly offering assistance in getting fillings, bridges, and repairs in general. Most dental policies will cover little if any preventive care . . . they are only an aid in cleaning up the mess left by the disease.
PLOWBOY: Dr. Nara. the very fact that you've held up in the face of 10 years of harassment proves that you believe in what you're doing. Can you tell me why you've stuck with it . . . what do you hope to accomplish in your career?
NARA: The principles that I'm operating on today are based on the belief that one person with the truth can constitute a majority. I believe the truth is that dental disease can be eradicated. Of course, this will only happen if the "healers" are able to reach the public. The message must be presented in such a way that people find it valuable. Sadly enough, though, we can't -- at this time -- count on the dental profession to relay that message.
So, one of my immediate goals is to solicit the aid of allied health professions. There are, for example, several chiropractors who are already practicing Oramedics, and I plan to take the whole concept of preventive dentistry out of the hands of the dental profession ... if that's what's necessary to get the job done.
PLOWBOY: Why did you choose to go to the chiropractors?
NARA: Well, as you may know, chiropractic medicine has come a long way in the past few years. The "back crackers'' of old are probably better versed in holistic and nutritional health care than any other medical profession in America. They have moved forward while all the rest have stood still.
And, along those same lines. I have written a book that should be available in January 1979. It's called Money by the Mouthful: Everything That You Need to Know, About the Health of your Mouth and Body That No Doctor's Going to Tell You. I'm so sure of the value of this book that it is completely guaranteed . . . anyone who doesn't find Money By the Mouthful worth the price can simply send in a post card, get the purchase price back, and keep the book.
PLOWBOY: Will this volume take the Oramedics case directly to the people?
NARA: Yes, and I expect many of them will be surprised at what they read. Oramedics is, you see, nothing new. We aren't claiming to have come up with a revolutionary system ... we're not pushing any "miracle" drugs or anything like that. We are simply offering a commonsense approach to dental health, and the likes of that has never been available to the American people before. Oramedics is nothing more--and nothing less--than the simplest route to a disease-free oral ecology. And I think that anyone who is interested in regaining control over his or her life and body will surely want to know about it.
Editor's note: I first learned of Oramedics International when this interview appeared in THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS, back in 1979. My wife at the time, and I both applied the program and found it not only invaluable, but exactly what Dr. Nara described. Over the years, I lost track of Dr. Nara and Oramedics, but in 1996 I found a single mention after searching the entire internet. I finally did contact the Nara's and learned that Oramedics had been scaled down due to various reasons.
Dr. Nara retired from dental practice in 1983 and no longer treats patients, although he still writes, lectures and remains very active closer to his home in Michigan's Upper Penninsula.
Because of my strong interest, I was granted permission to 'carry the torch', so to speak, and help rekindle the dissemination efforts of the works begun by Dr. Nara. My choice of media being the internet for various reasons. I considered naming this site Oramedics, but Dr. Nara said it was unavailable, and so named it OraMedia.
Although the information throughout this site remains valid, products are no longer being distributed through Oramedics...
You can still get 'Money by the Mouthful' and 'How to Become Dentally Self Sufficient' here.
Also, any requests for information or comments about the program can be forwarded to OraMedia.
There is an abundance of information available at this site, although we are being supported by sales of the few books and products being made available as the work progresses.
Thank you for your support!
Tom Cornwell / OraMedia
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