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Living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in my late 30s seems to surprise me with a host of minor inconveniences. And one of those inconveniences is my teeth. Taking care of my pearly whites has become more challenging as SMA progresses. The muscles in my jaw atrophy, which causes weakening for chewing and opening the mouth. 

Recently, I’ve been having some trouble with my back molar causing an infection. Antibiotics cleared the infection, but that’s a temporary fix for a chronic issue. My molar should be pulled or given a root canal because of the decay. It sounds so simple to the average person to remove or drill a tooth. But for those of us with SMA, it can become a frightening situation.

Dentists are often stumped with rare disease situations such as this because their instruments don’t reach the back of my mouth. They also have to keep in mind, that I choke easily, and my jaw tires quickly. Meanwhile, I was encouraged to break and reset my jaw. You could only imagine my response to that suggestion. 


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Nevertheless, because of the lack of feasible solutions, I resorted to some natural remedies. The remedies I use help maintain my teeth to avoid getting any worse and keep infection at bay. They are in no way a cure, but they do have positive aspects. 

Read about experimental therapies for SMA

Someone shared with me the benefits of raw milk. They explained how it can strengthen the bone structure of our jaws, and cause the enamel on our teeth to strengthen. The milk isn’t heated at high temperatures, which normally depletes the milk of many minerals and enzymes beneficial for our bones and teeth. At first, I was a bit skeptical, but in desperation, I was willing to try anything. 

In addition, I was suggested to oil pull with raw coconut oil. I take a single spoon of raw, unrefined, coconut oil and swish it in my mouth, once, daily for up to 20 minutes. Coconut oil strengthens the enamel and gums. It’s antibacterial, which can pull out some decay. I’ve had less pain and my teeth feel glossier and stronger.

However, this is just my experience. I would suggest always doing your own research to see if it’s an option for anyone who might be interested. 

I’m very thankful for those options that are available and have saved me from recurring antibiotic use. However, I still fear for the future. Teeth weaken and enamel wears away as we age, and not being able to open my mouth wide enough concerns me. I know how important oral care is, especially the effect it could have on heart disease. That’s one more thing I’d rather not add to my inconvenience list. 

But, regardless of my concerns, I still have hope. We are living in a time when there is a plethora of developing medical options cropping up. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to chug my raw milk and oil pull until something new surfaces. 

Also, I haven’t exhausted all resources, and I will continue to pursue looking into other natural remedies. And I’m sure one day soon, rolling into a dentist’s office will generate more peace rather than anxiety.