Blog | Bogobrush


written by samantha tillapaugh from the debtist

If you told me that you missed your routine dental check-up and cleaning in 2020, I’ll say you wouldn’t be the first. Let us face it. 2020 brought on a slew of unexpected lemons thrown our way and now we are all here, at the beginning of a new year, sitting around with a whole lot of lemonade.  If anything, we did good people! I would hardly expect dental care to have been at the top of everyone’s to-do list. We were all trying to maintain good health in other, more important ways (myself included).

A Look Ahead

However, it is now 2021 (Happy New Year!) and the perfect time to get in the full swing of things. If you are writing down a list of New Year’s Resolutions in hopes that this year becomes our best one yet, I would like to urge you to place dental care and oral health at the top of the list.

Back in March, a majority of dental offices closed their doors for a period of time. Dentists across the globe were assessing the situation, calculating risks, and racking our brains for additional precautions needed to deliver oral health care in a safe manner. We re-opened tentatively for emergency treatment until resuming preventative appointments in the summer season. Even after the doors re-opened fully, people were hesitant to leave the safety of their homes, which is completely understandable. Unfortunately, this avoidance caused an increase in dental treatment for many of my patients. This is costly in time and money, both valuable commodities after such a hectic year. 

I know that seeing the dentist isn’t a favorite activity but seeking preventative care will definitely set one up for a successful year. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get. 

Bogobrush x The Debtist

Tips to get a head start on your oral health in 2021

  • Make a resolution to floss daily. I know that flossing isn’t the most fun activity in the world (except for dental dorks like me), but doing so will prevent cavities from starting in between your teeth. Even if you brush twice a day and use mouthwash, there are certain areas that can only be cleaned with floss. 
  • Be mindful of what you eat. This resolution is popular and shows up on resolution lists in many different ways. While eating less carbs and sugar is good for the body as a whole, it also affects oral health. Carbohydrates and simple sugars are the exact ingredients that cavity-causing bacteria love to eat. Reducing their intake will make a huge difference in protecting enamel, the outer layer of all teeth.
  • Drink more water each day. People are always shocked when I tell them that saliva has protective factors for the oral cavity. The winter season is typically associated with dryness and dehydration. Drinking plenty of water will help produce more saliva, as well as rinse out the oral cavity frequently.
  • Reduce stress both at work and at home. The prevalence of teeth grinding has increased significantly in recent years due to our stressful lifestyles. I recommend a night guard to almost all of my patients having frequently observed moderate wear or occasionally, a fractured tooth. To help reduce stress during the day, schedule down-time and take plenty of breaks. I personally enjoy using meditation apps such as Tide or Headspace, as well as practice yoga as a form of exercise. 
  • Quit chewing or smoking tobacco. If you’ve been thinking of quitting for a while, this would be a great year to start! Not only is it bad for the oral cavity, it also is detrimental to your lungs, an organ to protect this time of year.
  • Lastly, stay up to date with routine check-ups and cleanings. Don’t give a tiny cavity the chance to grow into a large gaping hole. Diagnosing dental decay early on could avoid time-consuming and more expensive dental treatment. Plus, routine cleanings can keep gum disease away, thus protecting your gum tissues and circumventing the need for deep cleanings. I know that many people have some reservations about going into the dental office during this time, but it is very important to do. For peace of mind, you can call ahead to see what your dentist is doing to make your visit as safe as possible.

The bottom line

Now I know I just listed a lot of ideas and I don’t want to overwhelm you so early in the year. However, implementing at least a few of these tips would definitely give one a good head start. Prioritizing health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Don’t let oral health be at the tail end of it!



The Debtist

we’ve partnered with samantha tillapaugh, a general dentist practicing in southern california, to help spread the word about all cool things dental. when she isn’t sharing informative posts about teeth with us, she is writing at her own lifestyle blog as thedebtist. aside from writing, she travels the world, reads plenty of books sidled up next to her adopted, toothless cat, bakes sourdough bread and works as a tooth-fairy.

Have you registered to vote?

October 08, 2020

A Minimalist Mouthwash

August 27, 2019

written by samantha tillapaugh from the debtist

When it comes to mouthwashes, I am unabashedly not a big fan. One unfortunate thing about mouthwashes is that they are packaged in plastic bottles which makes any zero-plastic-user cringe at the sight. Secondly, some mouthwashes contain more than 20% alcohol. Think of the strong smell that you experience when you open a bottle of Listerine. How about the burning sensation you feel when you swish the solution around, waiting for the moment that you could spit it right back out? That’s the alcohol’s doing. Sometimes, the alcohol can be a bit strong for the gums, and I would typically suggest to my patients to choose mouthwashes that are labeled “alcohol-free” for a gentler rinse. Lastly, the health benefits of mouthwash are disputed in the dental community. Some claim that people who rinse with mouthwash more than three times a day increase their chances of oral cancer. Some say it slightly elevates blood pressure. While I am not sure whether I completely believe those two claims, when it comes to protecting your teeth from cavities, many dental professionals agree that mouthwash doesn’t come close to the effectiveness of a toothbrush or floss. While it gives people that false sense of confidence in their oral health, mouthwashes arguably only temporarily improve one’s breath. And they’re expensive! As a frugalist, a recurring cost for a mouth rinse with limited pros does not really jive with me. In general, I do not find that the pros of using mouthwash outweighs the cons.

I treat people in a low-income community, mostly, and when they come to me looking for mouthwash advice, I give them a recipe for a minimalist one. No surprise here. What IS a surprise is when I tell them that I do not buy mouthwash myself, and that my rinse of choice is nothing more than warm salt water, twice a day, swished for thirty seconds to a minute. Salt water rinses are great especially for the gums. It is my first line of defense whenever I see gum inflammation. I liken it to how salt water at the beach can heal the skin. So what makes it so great?


  • It works by increasing the pH balance of your mouth. Bacteria likes to multiply in acidic environments, so by making the oral cavity more alkaline, we are making it more difficult for the bacteria to survive. This includes the bacteria that make our breaths smell bad in the first place!
  • It is not irritating to mucous membranes, because it has a similar concentration of salts and minerals as our bodies do. 
  • It is affordable and accessible to ANYONE. 
  • It’s simple to make (see recipe below).
  • It is more widely embraced, especially when treating people who prefer holistic, natural methods. Not everyone wants a prescription for an anti-microbial rinse when they come to you looking for advice against puffy gums. Some are just searching for better oral hygiene practices, and maybe a rinse recommendation.

The Debtist saltwater rinse


People sometimes ask, “Doesn’t the salt abrade the teeth?” Well, this is why warm water is important! Once salt is added to warm water, it dissolves immediately and we don’t have to worry about the grittiness of it. Our enamel stays safe.

Others ask, “But how does it improve my breath?” It improves by reducing the bacteria that causes bad breath in the first place. Some patients complain that they don’t feel as if they’re breath is “as fresh” as when they use Listerine. I think that’s what makes people return to these mouthwash companies. But “fresh smelling breath” does not necessarily equate to a healthy mouth. It’s an illusion. When I ask people what fresh breath smells like, they say “minty”. When I ask them what fresh breath feels like, they say “cool” or “cold”. Neither of these are natural. They are socially taught. They are also very strong habit-forming experiences. Mouthwash companies want you to keep returning to their product. So they essentially make a product that, when it is missing from your life, is blatantly obviously missing. Getting used to being without store-bought mouthwash takes time but once we’ve gotten that expectation of cool minty freshness out of our minds, it becomes a simple matter of moving our point of reference. I have had people return and say that once they’ve gotten used to warm salt water rinses, they now view Listerine as “excessively strong and pungent”. Which it is. I remember the first time I ever tried mouthwash. I had that burning tingling sensation, and watering eyes. I was probably in my late teens. Over time, I’ve gotten immune to that feeling, expecting it even. It makes people think that that feeling signifies cleanliness. When in reality, it does not. 

The last question I regularly get is, “Do I need to rinse my mouth at all?” If you were using store-bought mouthwash, I would say it’s debatable, because I am not sure of its efficacy. But I do recommend salt water rinses twice a day for EVERYONE, to keep up with your gum health. Brushing and flossing will ultimately, still, be the best for your teeth.


Dissolve 1 tsp. of salt in 8 ounces of warm salt water. Swish for 30 seconds, twice a day, morning and night. Voila! 


There are two types of mouthwashes, generally speaking, which can be bought over the counter: Cosmetic and Therapeutic. If you wish to buy a therapeutic mouthwash, check the ADA’s site for a list of mouthwashes that have been granted an ADA seal. Look for this seal when perusing your store’s shelves. If you wish, you may seek out mouthwashes with the following ingredients:

  • Cetylpyridinium Chloride;
  • Chlorhexidine;
  • Essential oils;
  • Fluoride;
  • Peroxide.

These ingredients are found in therapeutic mouthwashes. Additionally, I would opt for mouthwashes that contain no alcohol. It is important to note that mouthwash is not recommended for children under 6 years of age. 

So there you have it. My holistic, minimalist, zero-plastic, frugal, professional two-cents on mouthwash.

The Debtist

we’ve partnered with samantha tillapaugh, a general dentist practicing in southern california, to help spread the word about all cool things dental. when she isn’t sharing informative posts about teeth with us, she is writing at her own lifestyle blog as thedebtist. aside from writing, she travels the world, reads plenty of books sidled up next to her adopted, toothless cat, bakes sourdough bread and works as a tooth-fairy.


Choose what feels good for the “you” you are today, and resist the temptation to judge other options. With grains of salt, here are a few of the folks I follow on IG:

    • @theminimalists (podcast + blog)
    • @thesustainablefashionforum
    • @consciouschatter (podcast)
    • (UN Sustainability Study Hall)
    • @zerowastehome (author)
    • @greendreamerpodcast (hosted by @KameaChayne)



    When you tell yourself you’re not doing enough, you’re programming yourself into negativity. Instead, recognize the abundance of your sustainability, today, and put that goodness into the world.



    Look at your desired efforts and identify the items that nag you to tip them over the edge. Observe the barriers that prevent you from acting on those items, then name 1-3 things you can do to practice removing those barriers. It sounds like goal-setting because it is. Put a date on it, commit to practicing it consistently for 5 days and see how you feel! You can always choose something else if that doesn’t feel aligned.



    Your mindset creates your reality, and that’s not just a catchy phrase. It’s philosophy (Kacee talked about this,) and it’s quantum physics, (one principle is called the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.) Create a habit of looking at the world and yourself as sustainable and balanced.

    • Look at the world through a lens of a Sustainability Model. The three prong Venn Diagram is a great start - the balance of Eco, Social, and Economic interests. The 8 Pillar Approach that I mentioned is good, too. (If you’re interested, tell me!) Anything that asks you to consider perspectives outside your immediate lens will help you cultivate a sustainable mindset.
    • Look inside yourself. You are the universe and anything you do to yourself, you’re doing to the planet, too. Use meditation to relate to the elements. (I have a guide for this. LMK.) See yourself in everything and use your empathy to identify your relationship to Sustainability.



    Our economy is simply the system we use to trade environmental and human resources. When the “value” of resources is misaligned with reality, the outcome of the trade is imbalanced.



    This will help you more accurately account for the resources your life is consuming. Start small. Choose one activity to offset - perhaps driving your car or your electricity usage. Commit to paying your offsets for 3-6 months and evaluate. Maybe you add another category of your lifestyle to offset. Two examples of offset organizations are Terrapass and Cool Effect.



    It could be weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, whatever - but, regular communication creates the most impact. Tell them, “we need to have economic tools that better account for our environmental and social externalities.” Offer some examples: Carbon Tax, Emission Standards, Renewable Energy Standards, Healthcare Affordability Solutions, Regulations on Chemicals used in Food Industry. There are countless ways the government can advocate for Sustainability. YOUR VOICE MATTERS.



    For example, ride a pedal bike or walk instead of drive a car or electric scooter (those scooters take more power than your bike, y’all. Then again, how much energy does it take to ride your bike…food, water, etc? Oh the spiral. lol. )



    Empathy is the reason you’re able to feel for other animals and people, and is how you recognize yourselves as part of something greater than your individuality. However, overactive empathy strips you of your power and sends you into fear and guilt. Remember that fear and guilt are not emotions of action. When this happens, center yourself on your Truth and take inspired, positive action to lift yourself into a more balanced state of mind.



    Non-judgment is contagious through every single thing you do in life. When you stop judging other people, or yourself, for their decisions about sustainability, and instead you trust everyone is doing the best they can with where they’re at, you open energy to do more good.


    • Fewer materials in a product = Easier to recycle
    • The entire Life Cycle of a product is what matters: Creation - Sourcing - Manufacturing - Utility/Function Value - End of Life.



    Eventually, all things will complete a life cycle of balance, the question becomes about the distance that cycle must cover. Perhaps the sustainability we’re after is a balance that minimizes harm and increases efficiency, creating a tighter cycle of energy. The vastness of Sustainability is often condensed into Eco, alone, because it’s easier for our minds to wrap around a more narrow factor. The value of our eco-system is great, but when it comes to Sustainability, it’s an incomplete view.



    Your job is to hold faith that your curiosity for sustainability blended with your Truth is what is “right,” and that someone else’s Truth is part of the solution, too. Practice an open mind so you’re ready to support other people’s Truth roles and are able to accept support for your Truth, too.



    Regardless of how much sustainable living you do, there will always be someone who won’t consciously choose the value of sustainability because it goes against what they fundamentally believe. Mass change is realized as conventional products and services are priced higher than those that honor sustainability, (i.e. a more accurate valuation of resources.) This happens through the following:

    • Supply and Demand. Reminder: Don’t demand perfection. Demand awareness and consciousness. Over time, this does tip the scale.
      • Example: With Bogobrush, the production cost of our first product in 2015 was more that 10x the cost of a conventional manual toothbrush. With demand, we’ve reduced our costs by more than 65%. Now, we can market to larger stores, reach more people, and create a ripple effect through the supply chain making this technology more accessible to the world. It’s not perfect, it’s progress.
    • Political Effort. See #7 above. :)
    • Economic Theories - Philosophers and Economists are dreaming up entirely new ways of valuing the world. My favorite model, so far, is called Thermoeconomics, where “value” is literally based on the amount of energy in a good or service.


    This is taken from CEO Heather's blog after hosting Sustainability & Sadhana, part of Citizen Yoga’s Open Door Series. Check out the full article here:

    Choosing Chocolate

    June 21, 2019

    written by samantha tillapaugh from the debtist

    Chocolate is my dessert of choice. Actually, it’s my snack of choice, and when it comes to foods good for our teeth, sometimes I think that choosing chocolate could be good advice. It is true that I will take every opportune moment to make chocolate-eating okay, but there is logical reasoning to backup my stance. And we’ve got our salivary glands to thank for that.

    Saliva is Our Superhero

    There are multiple protective factors for our teeth, one of which is the saliva that we produce. The hallmark of dental cavities is the demineralization of our teeth initiated by acidogenic plaque flora. In human speak, this means that bacteria living on our teeth convert left-over foods (in the form of plaque) into acidic by-products, which then causes our teeth to rot. Combating this process is our saliva.

    Saliva helps prevent cavity formation in three epic ways. First, it cleanses the mouth via its salivary flow, breaking down plaque and washing it away from our teeth. Second, it provides a buffering system by depositing calcium which is good for our teeth, especially when it recognizes an increase in acidity by a lowering of pH levels. Lastly, it has been shown to oppose demineralization by supplying minerals, specifically calcium. In other words, saliva is our superhero.

    The Debtist

    So why does this make choosing chocolate good advice?

    Why Chocolate Is Better Than Other Snacks

    Do you remember that M&M selling point, “melt in your mouth, not in your hand”? That’s exactly the selling point I’m going to pitch here. Chocolate has an ability to be broken down by your saliva that most foods on the grocery shelves do not. If you stick a piece of chocolate on your tongue, it dissolves. If a stray piece of chocolate gets stuck on your tooth, it will also dissolve. However, if you eat a piece of candy, the stickiness makes it very difficult for saliva to wash it away from your tooth. Unfortunately, when saliva and a piece of Jolly Rancher battle it out, no matter how many waves of saliva tries to pry that stubborn candy off your tooth, the Jolly Rancher will win every time. I suppose this is part of the reason why my sister’s candy-loving self had cavities, when my chocolate-loving self had none.

    However, it isn’t just candies that chocolate beats. Some of the worst kid snacks come in the form of non-sweets as well. As much as I love Cheetos, the cheesy goodness leaves a grimey mark, and it is actually the number one snack that dentists warn against. All you have to do is look at a child’s fingers, or have them smile at you afterwards, and you’ll see why. In fact, all chips covered in some sort of flavor (such as barbecue, sour cream and onion, and yes, Hawaiian!) can leave a residue.

    Likewise, juices, which so many parents love, also contain heavy amounts of sugar, especially when store-bought. Unfortunately, juices stick to teeth despite being a liquid, and can be difficult to remove. And don’t get me started on soda. Worse than being sticky, those beverages are actually acidic, which we already know is a factor in the beginnings of cavity formation. Well-meaning parents have turned to dried fruits, but those too have their down-sides. Have you ever gotten a dried mango or a dried date stuck in between your teeth? If you’ve experienced this, then you know that the fibrous being likes to be retentive, and no matter how hard you try to maneuver your tongue and cheek to dislodge said piece, efforts end up being either futile or extremely excessive. Lastly, any snack that stains kid’s teeth and tongues, even momentarily, I would warn against. If it sticks enough to stain, then it’s sticky enough to stay.

    The Tooth (and Health) Benefits of Chocolate

    But back to chocolate. I am not saying that all chocolate is good, or that chocolate all the time should be one’s daily practice (I wish!). But I am saying that compared to the many things we reach for on the shelf, chocolate falls under that category of “not so bad”. It is a basic snack (in terms of pH) that does not contribute to the acidic environment detrimental to our teeth. It is easily broken down by saliva and just as easily washed away. And chocolates are contributors of calcium, which is essential in opposing the demineralization process. Recent research posits that chocolate actually is a superfood for our teeth because it contains a chemical called CBH, which is similar to caffeine. CBH has been shown to be more effective than fluoride in strengthening enamel in animal tests, and there is hope to add this chocolate superpower into mouthwashes and toothpastes for humans in the future. So for those who are against fluoride treatments, perhaps the answer to the solution lies in chocolate! Chocolate also contains antioxidants that have been argued to protect your teeth, the list of which includes tannins and polyphenols which supposedly prevent the sticking of substances to your teeth and neutralize the bacteria that reduces bad breath. As if this wasn’t enough, have I mentioned that chocolate has been shown to improve not only mood elevation, but also blood flow? Not that you needed the extra ammo.

    The Debtist

    Important Caveats and Tips on Chocolate Eating

    If you do reach for chocolate bars on the shelf, here are some very important caveats and tips to consider.

    • Not all chocolates are created equal. When I say that chocolate is healthy, I am talking about chocolate that’s as close to the cacao bean as possible. The best thing to do would be to chew on cacao nibs, but I think that most people would not find that palatable. The second best would be raw chocolate which is less processed. When in doubt, reach for simple dark chocolate bars with 70% cacao or more, with less than 6-8 grams of sugar per serving. Obviously, the order of chocolate healthiness goes from dark chocolate to milk chocolate to white chocolate, so as we go down the tier, the sugar content increases and the benefits of chocolate decreases. And please do not choose anything other than simple chocolate bars or chips or nibs. As we’ve previously discussed, any additives to chocolate bars in the forms of nougat, dried fruit, and - the absolute worst – caramel (!) may make it taste better, but reverses everything I’ve said in this piece, thus turning chocolate from your best friend into your worst enemy.
    • Eating a whole bar of chocolate in one sitting is better than eating a piece every hour. A whole bar in one sitting?! I know what you’re thinking. “She’s crazy!”. But it’s the truth. Our saliva works diligently to wash away excess foods. But it doesn’t help if you are constantly re-dirtying the teeth every hour after the saliva has already done its cleaning up after you. Eating a piece every hour is like putting the teeth at a perpetual state of exposure to chocolate. I’d rather you expose it once and get it over with. Plus, the amount of exposure to chocolate when you eat a bar in one sitting is actually LESS than when you eat it over the course of a few hours. Why? Because our teeth has a limited amount of tooth surface. When you’ve covered the teeth with chocolate, eating more chocolate will not cause more of it to stick. The tooth is already covered! The excess chocolate just goes down the pipe. But if you wait one hour, your saliva has freed up tooth structure for more chocolate binding. As the saying goes… “work smarter, not harder”.
    • Brushing your teeth afterwards is still recommended. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush, swishing with water or drinking some water would be very helpful in the dissolving process. This is especially true the farther you go down the chocolate spectrum.
    • Chew sugar-free xylitol gum afterwards. Xylitol gum has its benefits, but chewing gum (or anything!) in general is beneficial because it stimulates salivary flow. The minute we start chewing, we send our body a signal to increase saliva. So chewing sugar-free gum afterwards helps with the dissolving of any left-over chocolates, if you were at all worried.

    So the catch-all phrase of “sweets are bad” isn’t entirely true after all. If anything, I would posit that sticky foods are bad, and sticky sweets are worse. But chocolates … chocolates make my world go round.

    The Debtist

    we’ve partnered with samantha tillapaugh, a general dentist practicing in southern california, to help spread the word about all cool things dental. when she isn’t sharing informative posts about teeth with us, she is writing at her own lifestyle blog as thedebtist. aside from writing, she travels the world, reads plenty of books sidled up next to her adopted, toothless cat, bakes sourdough bread and works as a tooth-fairy.

    A Q&A with The Debtist

    April 26, 2019

    A Q&A with Dr. Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

    Why did you become a dentist? How long have you been practicing?

    Oh gosh, I feel like there are so many reasons why I decided on dentistry. Even though I have been saying I wanted to be a dentist since I was eight years old, the reasoning that solidified my decision wasn’t fully formed until I became a dental assistant. As a young one, I thought to myself, “Dentistry helps a lot of people,” and I think that was the main attraction for me.

    The Debtist graduation

    Graduation, 2016

    As I grew older, I got drawn into the arts. So much so that I had to choose between art school and a science degree. I ended up following my heart and choosing science, to facilitate my path towards getting into the dental field. Luckily, when I started shadowing as a dental assistant, I realized just how artistic dentistry could be. Working with my hands on the daily has been a real joy and restoring smiles (sometimes out of nothing) is the best feeling in the world. Most people wouldn’t believe this, but I use the same exact strokes with a drill in my hand as I do when I hold a paintbrush or a charcoal pencil. I would never have imagined that I could be an artist disguised as a doctor.

    Finally, I chose dentistry because of a particular lifestyle. When I had to decide between art school and dentistry, my mom told me something that I will never forget. You can always choose to do art on the side when you’ve become a dentist. But you can’t choose to be a dentist on the side after you’ve become an artist. Dentistry allows me to create a meaningful impact in people’s lives, but it also gives me the freedom to choose how many days I want to dedicate doing that. Unlike working at a hospital as a doctor, there is more flexibility working as a dentist in a private practice. That fact allows me to turn my life into what it is today. I have time to pursue writing on the blog, being a bread baker at Rye Goods and Aero Bakery, and a dog sitter via Rover. I have the space to do all the things that bring me joy. In this way, I create a balance between being good to others, but also, being good to myself. It’s been three years, and I have no regrets.


    Why did you start your blog, The Debtist?

    When I started my blog, there was no intention to write for others. I started to write because that’s always what I’ve done. My tendencies lean toward introspection, and I’ve had multiple blogs and diaries since I was a teen. I started my blog in the middle of 2017 when I was going through a decluttering process, in the physical sense, but also in the mental and emotional sense. I had just graduated dental school, accomplished my life’s dream and work of becoming a doctor at the age of twenty-six, married my best friend, and I just needed to take a step back and ask myself, “What now?” I felt like I accomplished a lot in my life, but also that I had spent too much time going through the steps, checking off the boxes, if you will. It was time to embrace mindfulness.

    The Debtist 


    I noticed you talk about simplifying your life on your blog. What are some changes you've made to simplify your life?

    I’ve simplified my life so much that people can’t help but comment. In the physical sense, I own very little. Adding more things to our home is sometimes a painful process, because of my aversion to clutter. The things we do add hold a lot of meaning and are very dear to us. A lot of things we own are used daily, a statement not many can make. And we try to avoid things that would bring the planet harm, which means living a life as free as possible of synthetic materials.

    Simplifying my life didn’t apply to only things. I simplified my relationships as well. As an introvert, it’s helped me save the energy I needed to focus on the things I hold most dear. I stopped saying yes to everyone, I stopped living my life to please others, and I de-cluttered unhealthy relationships, if you will. In our society, that’s seen as selfish, but the truth that I learned is that the people you choose to surround yourself with truly shape the world around you, so being selective is very important.

    The most difficult part about the simplifying process, however, is quieting a monkey mind. Even today, I will sometimes find my neurons firing like crazy, trying to process twenty things at once. Yoga has helped me tremendously with finding the mental space that I need. I think that once we can zone inwards, we can almost pull ourselves away from this physical world and transcend what grounds us here. It gave me a more worldly perspective on life. Amidst chaos, I can shut everything out and listen to a pinpoint sound, like a distant bird song carried by the wind. I can appreciate the silence of an empty room. In the middle of preparing breakfast for us at home, I can find gratitude in the smell of cinnamon, the heat of an oven, the sound of drip coffee. I think a simplified life, in the end, requires a particular mental state. It’s almost like knowing your place on this Earth. Once you’ve tapped into it, everything about this life becomes simple.

    The Debtist

    Simple joys


    Do you have a favorite post or one that got more attention than you expected?

    In the beginning of 2018, I started to gain traction with the blog. I started to collaborate with others, write for an audience, and eventually, make a difference in people’s lives through my work. Even if it is to simply say, “You are not alone.”

    In the early days of 2018, I changed my blog name to TheDebtist, because I realized that a lot of what defined my current life stems from the fact that I graduated at the age of 26 years old with a student debt of over half a million dollars. I started to write about its effect on my lifestyle, which caught people’s attention. You see, I had chosen a path many people did not choose to take. I decided to pay down my student loans aggressively instead of waiting 25 to 30 years for the government to absolve it. From this came a need to be frugal, which then led to a need for simple living, and consequently, a lifestyle of less waste. All of which I detail in the blog.

    The Debtist

    A collaboration with Miakoda NY

    In the summer of 2018, my student loan story was recorded by ChooseFI, and when the story got released in October of 2018, things picked up speed, and fast! A month later, a second Itunes recording with Student Loan Planner was released. I am most known for my post Hashtag JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out, and for my list of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality. I write a lot about ways to deal with a lot of debt, in the hopes that I can help others who are also suffering from the same thing. I want to change the mindset we have around money, and to have an open conversation about it. I think that sharing knowledge is the best way we can improve our future generations.

    The blog became a way for me to reach people from all over the world, but surprisingly, what the blog has done for me is greater than anything I have done for anyone else. It gave me something to stand up against, and a community to fight for.


    And now you've taken up baking! Has this always been a passion?

    Nope, not at all! I dabble in artistic things frequently and am naturally drawn to activities that withdraw the mind into its own world… things such as drawing, reading, yoga, and writing. I have always cooked my own meals (another frugal life hack of mine!) and I started to bake bread, specifically, only one year ago… around the time when I started practicing mindful living. What had me doing it?

    The Debtist bakes

    I value baking bread more than words can explain.

    Part of our intentional living transformation involved cutting plastic from our lives, which meant our grocery runs could not involve any items prepackaged in plastic. We started making everything from pasta to sauces from scratch. For Christmas 2017, I asked my family members for presents that would allow me to make my own bread. The minute I started doing it, I felt a strong, calm pull.

    There’s something about bread baking that transports me to a place of rest. The best bread only requires three ingredients, water, flour, and salt, and one very rare commodity: TIME. It takes time for the yeast to ferment the flour before baking, in order to have bread rise. Unlike other things in the modern world, there’s no rushing it. The ability to make bread in this way is a privilege that not many people have, and I value it more than I can explain.


    What is your favorite thing to bake?

    I cook and bake other things for myself and for my family, but I specifically focus on bread for others. It’s kind of funny, but when I tell people I own a bakery, their first question is usually, “Do you make cakes?” I guess I do, and there’s a special one that I reserve for family members on their birthdays that they seem to really love, but that’s not where my heart lies.

    Sourdough bread is easily my favorite thing to bake. I can do variations of it, some with Gruyere cheese in whole wheat, Cheddar and Jalapeno, Sesame Seed, Walnut, Raisin and Coriander…  but in the end, a plain country loaf of Sourdough bread is what attracts me most.

    The Debtist bakes

    Sourdough Country Loaf, in all its hole-y glory.


    Are you baking just for fun? 

    I’m always baking for fun! But I also do it as a side hustle now. I got my first job as an early morning bread baker with Rye Goods at the beginning of this year. We are a group of seven, and when I started, we were operating from a garage that was rebuilt to house an entire commercial kitchen. I rise at the same time that some go to sleep, and bake off loaves with another bread baker until sunrise. The ovens keep us warm, the love of bread keeps us moving. Our pastries and bread are on the delivery truck, on their way to local coffee shops before most people even open their eyes. I walk out into a view of the sun rising over the mountains, smelling like bread, feeling calm and ecstatic, all at the same time. My day already holds so much, even before it begins.

    The Debtist bakes 

    Rye Goods Pastries on Sunday mornings

    Just recently, I opened my own bakery called Aero Bakery, to serve the local community. I wanted to share with them the luxury of having the time, show them how something simple can bring joy. I want to remind them that elegance can lie in a slab of butter and a slice of bread, and all the riches in the world cannot replace the feeling you get when you make something that’s your own. Hopefully, it helps them to slow down, even for a moment, to enjoy the little things.

    The Debtist bakes

    Aero Bakery: Slowing down bread-lovers in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana


    Can you tell us a bit about your recently adopted cat?

    Oh, you mean the love of my life?? We met our cat, Theodore, when we used to go on a nightly after-dinner-stroll at our previous place. I remember the day we first saw him. He must have recently found his way to our neighborhood, because before, he wasn’t there and afterwards, we saw him every day. He was the first to approach us, all mews and cuddles. He loves humans, and would roll over to get pets, or jump in a stranger’s lap to fall asleep. It was hard not to fall in love.

    The Debtist has a cat!

    Hi, I'm toothless Theodore!

    A month later, we were moving into our new home, and we had to leave Theo behind. I remember saying bye to him when we left. But we couldn’t stay away. We would drive the 2 miles back to our old place a few nights a week just to find him waiting in the same exact spot, lurking for any human contact he can find. One day, we got to talking with an old neighbor who feeds the stray cats in the area. She was feeding the other cats their kibble, but Theo had a special bowl of soft, wet food. We asked her, “Why the special treatment?” It was then that I learned that he was a toothless cat. She couldn’t have sent a sharper dagger. That was the minute I knew it was over.

    California was entering the Fall season late, and I recall that it was the first rainy day since Spring. It was a Sunday, and all I could think was that a poor, toothless cat was sitting out there, hiding underneath some trees or bushes, trying to withstand the gusty winds and wet rain. The following night, Theo had a new home. I had rushed to grab the bare necessities (off course!) that a cat would need on Monday morning before work, and my husband went to pick up the cat after work. I came home to our sweet, orange baby exploring our home. The rest is history.

    The Debtist has a cat!

    Home sweet home.


    Finally – what’s next? 

    Who really knows? Right now, I am trying to balance working as a dentist five days a week, writing on the blog, tackling the student debt, baking at Rye Goods, and growing Aero Bakery. I have so many dreams, it’s hard to say which one life will lead me to next. We’ve traveled the world for coffee, and it may be that a coffee shop endeavor will be in our future. I also dream of living a quiet life in New Zealand at some point, if only for a few years. Some days, I imagine waking up to the sound of birds, walking to a simple job of being a barista, earning only what I need, and spending the rest of our days outdoors, listening to the sound of the Earth around me doing what it’s always done all these years. Other days, I think it’d be nice to create forever, maybe write a book, become a potter, or draw and paint. Honestly, with me, you never really know what will happen next. All I know is this: the world is full of possibility.

     The Debtist travels

    Tekapo, New Zealand 2019

    We’ve partnered with Samantha Tillapaugh, a general dentist practicing in Southern California, to help spread the word about all cool things dental. When she isn’t sharing informative posts about teeth with us, she is writing at her own lifestyle blog as TheDebtist. Aside from writing, she travels the world, reads plenty of books sidled up next to her adopted, toothless cat, bakes sourdough bread and works as a tooth-fairy.

    Our friends at put together a list of ways to reduce your carbon footprint, including swapping to reusable bottles, getting rid of your junk mail, bringing your own bag, and - of course - swapping to a recyclable or biodegradable toothbrush. 

    6. Brew your coffee at home!

    Save money and a single use cup. Win win.



    9. Be rid of junk mail for good.

    The average American adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year. Limit this by signing up for a service to remove your info from direct mailing lists, and opt for online statements and email updates instead of paper ones. © Jacob-Schroeter/Shutterstock

    © Jacob-Schroeter/Shutterstock


    20. Swap to a recyclable or biodegradable brush!

    Did you know that the average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime? Make the swap to keep brushes out of the landfill!

     mint Bogobrush



    Care to read the entire article? Find it here.

    What is sustainability to you?

    My simple, cut to the chase answer is that Sustainability is the balance of all things. To dive deeper into my brain, I think that, existentially, that balance is beyond human knowing and within the realm of faith. More practically, it's the balance of humanity and planet where the creation and consumption of energy is in a state of constant flow. I think it requires an understanding that people and the planet both create and both consume. And also, that energy includes goods, services, thoughts, and relationships. It's the thoughts and relationships piece where I think humans can make a huge impact, and it's relatively untapped. :)

    Sustainability with Heather McDougall

    What are 3 ways everyone could become a bit more sustainable today?

    1. Avoid products that are only garbage - not biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable. But, when you do produce garbage, before you throw it in the trash bin, really look at it and say "thank you." Honor the energy that created it.

    2. When making a decision (purchasing or relational) ask yourself, "Am I saying yes because this fuels my soul and helps my light stay lit, or am I saying yes because my ego (i.e. human conditioning) tells me I should." Trust that Higher Self choices are always in balance. And, this doesn't mean never consume...just know why you do it. :)

    3. What is that thing you do everyday or every week where you hear yourself say you can do something better or different? Is it carrying your reusable water bottle or metal straw? Or, using your compost bin? Or, giving a buck to the homeless gal? Or reading that book about the cause you want to know more about?  We all have that thing that is on our "edge." Commit to it for one week. See how you feel.

    Sustainability with Heather McDougall

    What do you want students to take away from your workshop?  

    I want students to walk away from the workshop with a broader mindset for making a sustainable impact. I will share how sustainability is so much more than the products we use and whether we recycle or not - those are important - but in an imperfect system of production and the world of marketing can leave us feeling defeated. Instead, I want students to feel empowered by the vibrations of their mindset, and feel a new sense of faith that their passions and truths are designed to fit in a sustainable world. Students will leave the workshop with a toolbox of questions and a personalized statement for making these positive changes in their daily lives.

    written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist

    I sat down on Valentine’s Day to write a post. I wasn’t sure what to write about at the time, but the feeling of love was all around. Suddenly it dawned on me. I thought of kisses, specifically those on children’s heads. Parents kissing their children on the lips, as if to say “I love you, and don’t you forget it.” I’ve seen it often, too, as a simple gesture signaling comfort. A mother kissing a child good luck in the waiting room, as the child is called into the back of the dental office for x-rays. A father kissing a child in tears, telling them to be brave and good, as he holds their hand during the first dental visit. I’ve seen a mother cooing a baby to sleep while her teenager gets a cleaning, and kissing her darling baby goodnight. I’ve seen it over and over again, the kiss, this symbol of love.

    Then, I think to myself, “do people know?”

    Babies Are Born Cavity Free

    Do people know that babies are born cavity-free? This isn’t because they don’t have teeth, but rather, because all babies are born without the bacteria that causes cavities -- Streptococcus mutans, if you want to address it by name. Like other bacterial infections, acquiring this bacteria requires exposure. In fact, the only way to have cavity-causing bacteria is through someone else’s saliva. And guess whose first on the list to expose babies to cavity-causing bacteria?

    The Debtist

    That’s right! The child’s immediate family is usually the first to expose the little one to cavity-causing bacteria. My mind races with images of parents sharing their meals and feeding young children food from a mother or father’s plate, while the little ones swing their knees above floors they can’t yet reach. I think of the way we teach children how to drink from a glass, by demonstrating with our cups, and then asking them to mimic the motions. I think of ice cream cones shared on a summer day, peanut butter sandwiches with alternating bites. I have even seen parents chew their baby’s food for easier eating, then spitting it out and feeding it to them. That isn’t foreign to me at all. We’ve all seen pacifiers drop from a baby’s mouth or a baby’s hand. The next scene is familiar. Usually, the parent picks up the pacifier and rather than returning it to the baby dirty, they stick it in their mouth to clean it, before handing it back.

    The truth of the matter is, parents share saliva with their babies all the time (as do brothers and sisters). But do parents know that this is how babies catch those cavity-causing bacteria early on?

    It’s Nobody’s Fault

    When I tell people that their one-year-old has sugar bugs on their teeny tiny baby teeth, parents often look at me with shock. How could their precious baby have sugar bugs so early? What did they do wrong? When I follow it up by saying that their child probably caught it from someone at home, they look at me like I’ve just offended them. “You mean to tell me this is my fault?” they would say. No, I am not saying it is your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It just happens. Just like someone with a cold can transfer it to another person in their surroundings, bacteria in your saliva just, well, transfers. So, what can we do to prevent it from transferring?

    Preventing Baby Cavities

    I think it would be highly impractical to tell all parents to refrain from kissing their kids on the lips altogether. In fact, I think some parents would have a meltdown, even though I know some dentists do tell them anyway. If we are being completely honest, that would definitely help prevent early cavity formation. But the other truth is, parents will still want a way to show their love. So if it’s impractical to suggest it, let’s talk about the alternatives.

    • Limit the sharing of saliva among family members. The more you limit the sharing of saliva, the better you control the spread of cavity-causing bacteria. Refrain from sharing plates of food, cups, and drinks.
    • Make sure everyone in the family has a healthy mouth. Visit the dentist and keep cavity-causing bacteria under control. Make sure that both parents are cavity-free, so that they have less cavity-causing bacteria to spread. The best thing a parent can do is address their own dental issues to protect their children. As well as anyone else who gives that baby a kiss, or a bite of food to eat! (P.S.: This applies to adults as well. Making sure your significant other and all loved ones are on top of their dental game helps YOU, too.)
    • Watch their diet. Diet plays a huge factor in cavity formation. Once children have cavity-producing bacteria, those bacterial species will be in search of sugary treats. Babies should be weaned off of sippy cups and bottles as soon as possible. We recommend not using a sippy cup later than one years old. Falling asleep with a bottle in hand and milk on teeth is no good on the dental front. Juice drinks are the worst, followed by sticky candies and sweet treats.
    • Maintain good oral hygiene. A baby can catch the cavity-causing bacteria even before their teeth first make an appearance. It is during this stage that we must really be diligent about good oral hygiene. We don’t want cavities to form as the teeth are erupting. We want to make sure to brush any sticky and sugary foods and drink from the baby teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene will help prevent cavities from forming, despite being in the presence of cavity-causing bacteria.
    We’ve partnered with Samantha Tillapaugh, a general dentist practicing in Southern California, to help spread the word about all cool things dental. When she isn’t sharing informative posts about teeth with us, she is writing at her own lifestyle blog as TheDebtist. Aside from writing, she travels the world, reads plenty of books sidled up next to her adopted, toothless cat, bakes sourdough bread and works as a tooth-fairy.

    In 2018, Bogobrush partnered with the Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program (DHOP) to help them provide care to families in Panama. We caught up with Conor Perrin from DHOP to learn more about what they do.

    What is DHOP?

    The Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program’s (DHOP) mission is for local and international humanitarian groups, USC dental-students, faculty and alumni to come together with the common interest of providing the highest quality of periodontal treatment, operative dentistry, and oral surgery to those that need it most abroad.

    How did you get involved in this program?

    Ever since I started dental school, I heard about the sense of community involved with everyone who went on the DHOP mission trip each December and how humbled everyone was to partake in such an experience. It was something I really wanted to be a part of, so I applied and ended up being accepted to join the mission as a first year student.


    What's next for DHOP?

    Typically, about 50 students are chosen to attend the trip each year, all of whom have to submit an application and interview before being selected. As I’ve now completed two missions and wrapped up my final trimester as a second year dental student, I have served on the DHOP board previously as one of the fundraising chairs and will now serve as one of the 2019 upcoming mission’s co-directors. Though we have some ideas as to where we would like to take our upcoming mission, it often relies on contacts that we make in the international community. From here, the people we reach out to help guide us into making a final decision as to what area would be the best fit for our organization to serve.


    For our 2019 mission, the board wants to continue to elevate the standard of care we provide, which mirrors the standard that’s provided in USC’s home dental clinic, while also trying to provide treatment to a greater number of patients each year.

    The Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program is lead by University of Southern California dental students, faculty and alumni on a mission to provide the highest quality care to all communities.

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