In our last blog post, we discussed five ways to improve your oral health in the coming year. One suggestion was to eliminate one junk food daily. Expounding on that theme, let’s discuss the problem of added sugars and ways to reduce our intake of them.
I Am Addicted To Sugar. What Can I Do?
This question came up at a perfect time. A study just came out showing that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption declined for both children and adults in the United States between 2003 and 2014, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
Despite that reduction, teenagers and young adults still consumed more than the recommended limit for added sugars set by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines indicate that we should consume less than 10% of our calories from added sugars. Unfortunately, very few of us meet these guidelines.
Added sugars are the real problem
The fact is, sugars are not inherently bad, as they are found in fruits and many healthful foods. The problem occurs when manufacturers add sugar to a product. You’d be surprised, but it’s not just junk foods, candies, etc. that are the usual suspects. Unfortunately, you can find products with added sugars in many ordinary foods you wouldn’t even think of! Make sure you check the product nutrition labels! It’s your first line of defense!
If we try to cut back on the junk foods, such as limiting ourselves to one less “junk food a day”, we will make progress. Adding fruits will help feed our sugar addiction.
Try reducing added sugars from our diets
The real challenge is identifying and reducing added sugars from our diets. Keeping added sugars under their 10% limit is a process that takes months to get a grip on but is achievable.
Not only will this improve our general health, but it will also help our dental health as well. Remember cavities are caused by bacteria feeding on sugar in our diets. Less sugar translates into fewer cavities.
Taking supplements to aid oral health
The question always comes up regarding taking pills to help our oral health. Supplements are not one of my favorite things to ingest, as the industry, unlike medicines, have no regulation or supervision.
Despite this fact let’s talk about a couple of compounds which may help with our mouths.
Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract comes naturally loaded with Vitamin C and Vitamin E. We are not sure, but for whatever reason, this compound will inhibit the formation of what we call “plaque”. Plaque is the cause of gum disease and cavities. Plaque is essentially a commune of bacteria. These all feed off of sugar and produce destructive acid. Prevent the plaque and reduce the cavities. Prevent the plaque and prevent gum disease.
Another supplement that has many general health benefits is CoQ10 which is short of Co-enzyme Q10. This nutrient that is made in your body will help us fight infections and other insults by improving our immune system. Poor diet and age can affect its levels. Japanese dentists are very fond of CoQ10, and many recommend dosages of 60 mg daily as a preventive measure for gum disease. It also has benefits when applied topically to gum tissue. As with many supplements, research may be scarce, and claims abound. That being said, these dosages appear to be safe with the benefits outweighing any risks.
Use proper diet and nutrition for good oral health
These and other therapies in medicine are based on the concept that response to disease attach can be controlled or improved with proper diet and nutrition. Eating a diet that is primarily plant-based with a reduction or elimination of inflammatory agents such as sugar will help our health in general, and our mouth in particular.
If nutrition and quality of life enthuse you, give me a call and let’s share some thoughts. My passion is good health for you and your family.
Don’t forget that My “Better Than Insurance” program is still in effect until the end of the month.
I am looking forward to hearing from you and can be reached at 440.951.7856 to discuss nutrition or my money saving program with you.
The subject of tooth problems during the holiday season seems to come up every year, and I address this issue in the office with my patients.
Whenever I respond to a question, it is vital for me to clarify the scope of the problem.
Christmas and New Years coincide with the influx of cold weather. Cold weather effects are enough by itself to cause my phone to ring off the hook. However, I hope to address that unique problem in another column.
Today, I want to focus on the overuse, abuse, and neglect that our teeth get this time of the year.
I want to offer a few tips to reduce the need the for a call to me in the short run and help keep your mouth healthy in the long term.
I want to teach you how to avoid tooth problems during the holiday season.
The December sugar rush
Sugar abounds in December. The closer we get to Christmas, the more the sugary treats flood into our lives. Don’t worry; I am not going to preach avoidance of those treats.
Cookies, candies and special baked goods are all part of the festive atmosphere that is so much fun. Having said that, what can we do to limit the damage that these foods cause?
Sugar is the lifeline for cavity-causing bacteria
Remember, that sugar is the lifeline of the bacteria that attach to our teeth and gums. These bacteria congregate where sugar collects on the teeth and produce acid and other damaging waste products. These chemicals eat away at our teeth and cause cavities.
Control your exposure
One key to minimizing the adverse effects of sugar is to control how much exposure we have to it. The frequency of exposure will determine how detrimental our sugar indulgences are for us.
Sitting in the office all day long and munching on a can of cookies and treats is the worst thing that you can do. It is far better to eat all that you want in a shorter interval than to graze this food all day long. The bugs in your mouth have a field day with this as they’re partaking of a non-stop buffet of sugar.
Nuts. The healthy holiday snack alternative!
But you are going to tell me that part of the fun is eating all day long. Trust me; I get it. I would like to suggest that you break up the sugar gorging with other foods. Nuts abound this time of year. Every store that I walk into has a display of “holiday nuts.” It would be a great idea to bring these into work. You can either bring them for your stash or contribute to the greater good.
Walnuts are a great resource to keep cholesterol in check and act as an anti-inflammatory component benefiting our entire body. They are also shown to help with moods. So many people have stress and family issues around the holidays that any help that we can find is a plus.
Let’s not forget chestnuts. Remember Nat King Cole’s ‘The Christmas Song’! Chestnuts are lower in calories when compared to other nuts, an excellent source of fiber for your diet and rich in Vitamin C. Their hypoglycemic index is low which makes them perfect for people who struggle to maintain proper blood sugar levels.
Macadamia nuts and Pecans
What about nuts that are high in calories like macadamia nuts and pecans?
According to Michael Greger, M.D., one of the leading nutrition physicians today, nuts, in general, do not cause weight gain. This is true even though they are composed of fats and therefore loaded with calories. He states that
“ Part of the trick seemed to be that nuts boost fat burning within the body. It could have something to do with the amino acid arginine or the phytonutrients found in nuts…”
Nuts and seeds are linked to lower heart disease and longer life. Personally, I snack on nuts and seeds every day. My patients know that I do not have a weight issue.
How to offset all that sugar!
Lastly, what can we do to help mitigate some of our overeating and indulgences? You all know where I am going with this. Let’s be extra diligent in our oral care at home. Spend more time brushing, flossing or using a water-jet device. In fact, this would be a great time to buy an electric toothbrush for you and the family. Oral hygiene can fix and erase some bad activities during the day and not give bacteria a foothold in our mouths. Don’t let a tooth issue ruin your fun in the upcoming days.
Now that you know how to avoid tooth problems during the holiday season, practice proper prevention techniques to control the problems.
If you develop a problem, we are working and not taking any time off. Please call me at 440.951.7856 so that I make sure that you enjoy every moment of the season.
As the Fall and Winter months come upon us, let’s discuss how proper nutrition and specifically Vitamin D can help us achieve and maintain excellent oral health, even as the days grow shorter.
Is There A Pill That I Could Take To Improve My Teeth?
Would it only be that simple? In fact, I would keep it in my drawer next to my diet and exercise pill. However, let’s talk about some simple methods that may make a positive impact on our mouths.
It is somewhat amusing that this subject came up now, near the end of October. We are fast approaching our semi-annual activity of clock changing. This Saturday night we will move our clocks one hour backward as Daylight Saving Time is over for 2017.
(By the way, even though Daylight and Savings (with an “s” at the end) rolls beautifully off of our tongues, the correct term is Saving without the “s” at the end.)
Changing the clock, together with the advance of winter, creates a particular challenge for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter is a fast approaching and the available hours of daylight are dwindling. More darkness is the theme of the day.
Many studies talk about depression in the winter as related to less sunshine. I am not going to focus on that in this column. I want to talk about one of the latest trends in medicine. The idea of Vitamin D levels and their role in our general health.
Vitamin D is a misnomer
The truth is, Vitamin D is a misnomer. In fact, it is a hormone, not a vitamin. A vitamin is something that is part of our diet. If we don’t eat foods that contain a particular vitamin, we will be deficient in that vitamin and develop a disease. At one time beriberi was an incurable disease until it was found to come from a vitamin deficiency. Vitamins are compounds that the body can not make on its own, but instead, relies on our diet to supply these essential chemicals.
Michael Holick, Ph.D., M.D., who is one of the leading authorities in the science of Vitamin D, explains the difference. A hormone is something that the body makes if given the right ingredients. This hormone then goes to other parts of the body where it regulates many various functions. As such, Vitamin D is not a vitamin. It is a hormone.
Vitamin D production requires sunlight
Vitamin D manufacture relies on an outside source to start the process. That external source is sunlight. The ultraviolet B portion of sunlight initiates a mechanism to create pre-vitamin D3, which then turns into Vitamin D.
So Vitamin D is made in the skin with the addition of sunlight. We now understand why the levels of Vitamin D are so low in the winter. We are missing our precious sunshine.
How Vitamin D affects our oral health
An article from the Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association in 2011 tells us that Vitamin D deficiency “may place patients at risk for not only low bone density, (i.e., osteopenia and osteoporosis) but all infections and chronic inflammatory diseases”. So not only does Vitamin D affect the strength of our bones around the teeth, but it also may protect the gums from developing periodontal disease.
I have seen many patients who don’t have the most excellent health habits, yet their gums are remarkably stable. I always referred to this as the hidden genetic protection that was present in those patients. It is also possible due to resistance to the disease process because of proper levels of Vitamin D.
More and more healthcare professionals are recommending taking Vitamin D supplements to aid in our low levels because of where we live. Many physicians that I speak with talk about 2000 IU of Vitamin D and go up to 4000 IU taken daily. Personally, I ingest 3000 IU on a daily basis. Of course, the correct way to proceed is to get your Vitamin D levels checked and if low (which they probably will be in Northeast Ohio) take a supplement and recheck in 3 months to make sure that you are on the right path.
There is a pill to help improve our oral health!
So one pill that we can take to help our mouths is Vitamin D. This is not a substitute for outstanding oral care which includes proper brushing and flossing techniques. Reduction of candies and sweets (yes, Halloween is this week) is also very important.
Professional cleanings from our excellent hygiene staff and periodic exams to keep you on track are all crucial.
Call Megan today at 440.951.7856 and find out about our “Better Than Insurance” initiative to save you money and preserve your teeth for a lifetime.
As a dentist, my primary concern for my patients is for the general health and durability of your teeth. Since they get used on a daily basis masticating, the obvious question of their ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage comes to mind.
How long should my teeth last?
That’s a great question. Those of you who are regular readers probably know the answer to that. So let me put that aside for right now and ask you a question.
“How Long Will You Last”?
Not to be morbid, but of course, it is a legitimate question. In the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study, dietary factors were the biggest cause of mortality in the U.S. That’s right! In the richest and most prosperous country, the way we eat was the most significant cause of death! In fact, according to a 2013 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that has been around since 1969, increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables could save more than 100,000 lives and $17 billion in health care costs each year from heart disease alone!
The foods that age us
Foods that age us are typically acidic. We in the United States can call these fun foods. They are fun and appealing because we have made them the main foods in our diet. Sugary foods and refined grains, processed foods, and red meat. All of these foods are showing up in association with many diseases.
The ‘Epidemic of Plenty’
Our biggest epidemic…the epidemic of plenty has resulted in too many people being too obese. In fact, the medical community has classified obesity as an ailment in and of itself.
Following along the same lines, heart disease and diabetes with their associated problems have changed happy and productive lives to a treadmill of doctor and hospital visits. Daily pills are the norm, not the exception.
Aging better is possible
We can’t stop aging, but we can control to an extent the quality of life as we age. We can see this addressed in many societies around the world who age much differently than we do.
Dr. Michael Gregor, a leading physician who emphasizes nutrition as the best medicine, echoes this sentiment. He discusses and recommends plants and fruit to stave off many diseases. Many plants have an antiplatelet effect on our system. Platelets cause the blood to become sticky and clot. Clots in our arteries cause heart attacks and strokes. One of the reasons that many of my patients take a baby aspirin daily is to counteract this clotting effect. The aspirin reduces the platelet activity and makes the blood thinner. Isn’t it amazing that plants will do this also, without any possible stomach issues as are those associated with aspirin? Strawberries and other berries will lower activated platelets. These activated platelets are loaded with inflammatory chemicals. So just by eating more fruits and vegetables we can potentially reduce or limit many debilitating disorders the ‘epidemic of plenty’ causes.
Your teeth should last a lifetime.
A plant-based diet can make sure of it.
Now we know the answer to our initial question. Your teeth should last your entire life. The reason is obvious. If we want to live a long and vital life, we need to have a diet that is plant-centric.
We need to be filling the majority of our plates with whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and berries. However, to consume these, we need strong, durable and healthy teeth.
First of all, a plant-based diet eliminates most foods that attack our teeth via their associated stickiness. Sticky foods attract a load of bacteria and the acid that they produce. That’s a fast track to dental cavities. It’s no secret that tooth decay is the number one thing that will compromise the durability of your teeth. Non-inflammatory foods allow our bodies to have greater resistance to disease in general. Including such plant-based foods into your diet translates into healthy gums and strong supporting bone.
Proper tooth maintenance is required
Grinding and chewing these fiber-filled foods efficiently & correctly requires healthy teeth and gums. Therefore, if you break a tooth, you need to have it fixed. In the event a tooth is lost, you need to replace it. Our mouth can be a very efficient device if we take care of it correctly. Unfortunately, many people take care of other machines in their lives better than their mouths. Not only is this disastrous for our oral health, but it is also detrimental to our general health. Proper nutrition can ensure you enjoy both for many healthy years to come.
If it has been a while since you had your teeth checked and evaluated to ascertain their level of health, don’t hesitate to call me. You can reach me at 440.951.7856. Megan will answer the phone and point you in the right direction.
Oral Hygiene and the risk of stroke. On the surface, these two concepts do not seem interrelated. In reality, along with a proper diet, your oral hygiene can be very instrumental in preventing a stroke.
I Had A Stroke in My Eye Last Weekend!
That was the statement that I heard from a patient when asking about anything new in his medicines or medical conditions. I needed an education on this topic so I asked the patient to explain what that was. The reality of the term is really no different than any other type of stroke. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an eye stroke’s most common symptom is sudden, painless vision loss. Depending on the location, it could result in total loss of vision for the entire affected eye or as in my patient’s case, it affected only part of his eye.
The Academy goes on to say that men in their sixth decade of life are the most likely to experience this. Patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and narrowing of the carotid artery will increase the likelihood of this happening. So what does this have to do with teeth? I will explain that soon.
The following is part of a news release from the American Heart Association: “Saturated fats are found in meat, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and others. Other types of fats include polyunsaturated fats, found in corn, soybean, peanut and other oils, and monounsaturated fats, found in olive, canola, safflower, avocado and other oils.” They went on to discuss these types of fats. Here are some highlights of their statements:
1. Randomized controlled trials that lowered intake of dietary saturated fat and replaced it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduced cardiovascular disease by approximately 30 percent –similar to that achieved by cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins.
2. Prospective observational studies in many populations showed that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
3. Replacement of saturated fat with mostly refined carbohydrate and sugars is not associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease(heart disease).
Dr. Kahn went on to say that this ended decades of misinformation that tried to state that this is not necessarily true. Over a century of solid scientific research has pointed to eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while eliminating meat and dairy, will improve the chances of having a better quality of life for decades.
Get through your 60’s without a major health issue, & you’re in good shape
I have always said that if you can get through your 60’s without a major health issue, you were in good shape. It is this decade that years of bad habits and diets show up.
These bad habits build up plaques in the arteries. When these plaques break off and get lodged somewhere they stop the blood flow to that part of the body. In my patient’s case, it was his eye. If it gets stuck in your head, you could die or be permanently impaired due to loss of brain function. In the heart, you will get a heart attack. By eating saturated fats, these are some of the consequences associated with all of this.
A Plant-Based Diet, Oral Hygiene and The Risk Of Stroke
The game plan is obvious. Reduce the intake of these fats and replace this diet with one loaded with fruits and vegetables.
How does one enjoy all these varieties of food? It all starts with my good friends…the back molars. We need to keep our back teeth in great shape in order to ingest and digest these foods properly. Consequently, apples, walnuts, carrots etc are impossible to eat unless we can mash and smash these foods as the first step of digestion. Frequent checkups followed by being receptive to advice will keep our teeth for decades.
“It’s just a back tooth and I don’t really care” is the wrong approach. Wherever possible do everything to save your back teeth. In the event that is not a possibility for whatever reason, then replace them with something strong and stable.
The bottom line is this. Oral hygiene & the risk of stroke are related to one another. You need to incorporate good oral hygiene along with a plant-based heavy diet to reduce your risk for stroke and other related ailments. It’s not just your teeth that benefit. Your whole body does!
If you want to talk to me more about any of this information, please call me at 440.951.7856. I look forward to hearing from you.
I recently read a book called The Blue Zones. It describes those habits, eating and lifestyle, that allow us to live the longest lives with the best quality. Check out their website her https://www.bluezones.com/ and purchase or pick up their book. It is really and eye-opener.
Nutrition is so important to our general health and this extends to our dental health as well. I have written quite a bit about the oral and full body relationship. I have found a great website with a tremendous amount of good nutrition information. Best of all, the doctor who is responsible for its content is a local doctor, Dr. David Gutman. Click here to visit the site and improve your total body health