Using Our Teeth

I recently came across a short biography of Elder John B. Dickson of the Latter-Day Saint Seventy. I found his life story very inspirational, and his words of wisdom are applicable to our own daily living:

Elder John B. Dickson
Elder John B. Dickson

“When it was time for me to go on a mission, I was very excited to serve the Lord. Just before I was to leave, however, I found out that I had bone cancer. The chance of living long enough to serve a mission wasn’t very high. I had faith that the Lord would provide a way if He wanted me to go.

My father gave me a blessing in which I was told that I would serve my mission in Mexico, serve in the Church all my life, and have a family. My right arm had to be amputated above the elbow, but my life was spared, and the promises I was given have all been fulfilled.

“Some would think that losing an arm would be a terrible burden, but it has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I learned that it is very important to have challenges and to face up to them.”

Elder Dickson had always been right-handed, and now he had to learn to do everything left-handed. One struggle was learning how to tie his necktie. He said:

“One Sunday morning when I was in my bedroom with my necktie in my hand, I thought, How am I going to tie this? I thought about getting a clip-on tie. I thought about asking Mom to help me. But I couldn’t take her with me on my mission just to tie my ties. So I decided I had to learn how to do it myself. I finally figured it out by using my teeth. I still do it that way, even after having tied it thousands of times.”


holding-on-with-teethI’ve been thinking about the idea of “Using Our Teeth“. The subject of teeth is foremost in my mind currently. Last Friday I had some surgery on my mouth and teeth (NOT fun). Since then, I’ve been in a lot of pain, and I can’t eat anything that requires chewing (which rules out a LOT).

Often, when we are faced with a difficult burden or task, one of the most overwhelming things is accepting that life cannot be the same (either temporarily, or permanently). I know that my mouth will heal, and I will get to eat again. It’s not going to last forever. However, some things in life are more serious. We may face a trial that means we can never move forward doing things the way we used to. In the English language, when we are having a hard time, we might use the phrase: “I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth”. Imagine that you are hanging over a steep cliff, and the only thing keeping you from plunging into the abyss is by grasping a branch with your teeth! Obviously,you are surviving, but you are in need of some help FAST!

Making a change is always hard. Especially when it is not something we anticipated, and is unpleasant. “Different” is uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s painful, and really unfair. If we want to find a solution, it usually means we have to have courage, be flexible, and maybe we have to get a little innovative.

"Heavenly Hands"

No matter what we face, it is important to remember we were created to succeed! In our darkest hours, the Lord has given each one of us a precious promise:

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand, and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts; and my angels round about you, to bear you up.”

D&C 84:88

The Lord never makes a promise He doesn’t keep. It is my hope that no matter what, we will keep our faith strong in these troubled times. Let’s not be afraid to use our teeth once in awhile if necessary. And if we can’t use our teeth, then let’s just hold on some other way! – MoSop


  1. Wow. What a great post! What an inspiration!

    I whine and cry too much. I need to start using my teeth more.

    We all get old, and parts of our body (such as my shoulders) simply do not work as well as before. Aging and disability must be among the lessons to learn in this life. Yet, it does not hurt to have a few tricks up one’s sleeve or in one’s mouth.

    Thanks so much.


  2. Nice discussion and I appreciate your input. Fast question. We are making plans to build a site using wordpress ourselves. Can you point out a good resource for templates and the best plug ins to make it easy for staff to update content in a nice user friendly way? Thx in advance.


    1. I am not the best person to consult for your business site construction. I can only offer a positive personal recommendation of WordPress. It is designed with an easy, user-friendly interface and has excellent customer service. I suggest that you go to and consult their links for advice on building a professional site, templates, and choosing a web host.


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