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Sheila Wolf, RDH — San Diego, CA
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Dr. Paul Keyes

I could not have imagined over 30 years ago, that I would ever get to meet you in person, a man of such esteem yet so modest. I had heard of you in the mid 1970s. Your name had been connected to some rather extreme research and was linked to words like “quackery,” “charlatan,” and other unflattering epithets. I was working for two well-respected periodontists in New Haven, Connecticut who were treating “pyorrhea” with gum surgery. The idea that baking soda and hydrogen peroxide could be used to manage that disease was so far-fetched. Although I had, on occasion, suggested it to some of our patients — with noticeable results — we believed that it was not the chemicals but the additional step in their oral hygiene that was responsible for the improvement in their tissues. Little did I know at that time about anaerobes, your studies, and the impact you would eventually come to have in dentistry.

After nearly 20 years in that same periodontal practice, I left Connecticut, moved to San Diego, and started practicing dental hygiene with Dr.Hellwig, a general dentist who belonged to an organization named IDHF. His treatment philosophy was so different from what I had known. I was sent to Virginia to learn about the phase contrast microscope and the Keyes Technique.

What I saw under the microscope was fascinating. The evidence was unmistakable and convincing. As I watched the teeming masses of spirochetes undulating to their own music, distinct mice-like Trichomonads, oozing amoeboid parasites, and multiple varieties of rods — some stuck together like the arms of a clock — I immediately understood the truth. These bizarre “animalcules” (dubbed by Antony Van Leeuwenhoek) were at the bottom of these periodontal “infections” that I had been treating — albeit invisibly — all these years.

Everything I knew to be true prior to this microscopic revelation was totally obsolete. No wonder patients with chronic periodontitis were so debilitated and depressed by the time they sought treatment. They hadn’t any idea (no more than their traditional dental professionals did) that they were fighting a fierce and hopeless battle, using the old paradigms in dentistry against bacterial invaders that forced their body to get rid of its own teeth to regain health.

Armed with this new information, I went out into the world and began enrolling patients in a critical partnership, one that required them to participate as fully as I did in getting them in control of their oral opportunists.

A tangible image was needed. This was it! Patients were shocked and appalled when they saw the microscopic world under their gums. X-rays and pocket charting were evidence of past destruction and were not things to which they could easily relate. Those tiny critters, spinning, gyrating, interacting, and gobbling up their body’s heroic white blood cells were revealing. I literally saw the light switch turn on when patients understood that these invaders were dangerous, and repeated surgeries to cut off their gums were not the answer.

At each visit, we assessed their microscopic menaces. We watched their numbers and activity levels diminish in proportion to their daily anti-bacterial home care performance — both mechanical and chemical. I taught them the value of baking soda and peroxide and other antibacterial agents to suppress and eliminate the anaerobic bacterial communities. They learned to take control using some new tools like an irrigator, a rubber-tip stimulator, a sonic or electronic brush, and, in some cases, antibiotic therapy. Patients were motivated and I held them responsible for their end of the partnership.

Not only did I feel elated at making a difference in people’s mouths, but also I was now ignited with a new level of enthusiasm for dental hygiene that through the years had become routine and uninspiring. I no longer “cleaned” teeth. I was a collaborator, a crusader, and a facilitator, enabling whole body health — an occupation that wasn’t available to me before my Keyes enlightenment. What a blessing! Thank you Dr. Keyes.

We have now been writing back and forth for almost 2 ½ years. You have been a wonderful teacher, mentor, respected researcher, and great humanitarian. I am glad I had the privilege of shaking the hand of the man who so greatly influenced my thinking and the way I practiced my profession. I thank you for so many things, not the least being your gracious acceptance to edit my book. Such generosity! You have been my advisor and cherished friend ever since.

When I decided to compile a book of tributes to honor you for your contributions to dentistry, I really had no idea how many lives you had affected, how many books you had kindled, how many dental practices you had revitalized, and just how broad your influence has been. I hope you feel enormously gratified in knowing that you have changed the quality of so many lives, not only by your work directly, but because you have created a legacy of missionaries who are carrying on your work. I am proud to call myself a Keyes disciple.

God bless you for who you are and for all that you have contributed to humanity.

Big hugs to you and Doris,


Sheila Wolf, RDH
PO Box 151708
San Diego, CA 92175-1708
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