The health and life of our teeth are in our control. Nothing earth-shattering or profound in that statement. Our oral health habits directly impact the life and use of our teeth. Good habits will extend their life and bad habits will shorten it.
Unfortunately, despite its common sense nature, this is often overlooked and ignored by many people.
In this article, I’d like to explore 5 common sense oral health habits we can and should all adopt to extend the life of our teeth.
What Can I Chew With My New Teeth?
I get this question a lot from patients. This week it came from someone who actually received 3 new teeth. She had been missing them for a while. Having tried various solutions over the years, nothing really worked. She came to me to see if I could help. She was a perfect candidate for new teeth which were a great replacement for what she lost.
After we discussed that she could really eat whatever she desired, she asked me if there were any restrictions. At first, I said “no, you have no restrictions” but then I thought of a news story that I saw recently.
The article was about Hailey Baldwin, known for her modeling and television career, who appeared on late night TV. Jimmy Fallon, the host of the Tonight Show was interviewing her.
During the interview, she opened two bottles of beer with her teeth. Any dentist hearing about this would cringe. To make matters even worse, the host then commented,”You are the coolest person I’ve ever met.”
I can’t imagine how many of her fans will try this. The result will be a good number of broken teeth and trips to the dentist. In my world, this is an activity that will lead to many tooth problems. Teeth are for eating food. This is an example of a behavior that will negatively impact our health.
The habits are not crazy. In fact, you could probably figure these out yourself.
The 5 Lifestyle Habits to Extend Life:
Eating in a healthy fashion.
Maintaining a normal weight.
Drinking only in moderation.
Nothing is really earth shattering on this list. What is of great interest to the medical and scientific community is that we have the power and the ability to extend our own lives. Put in another way, we can live out our full lives and not cut it short with bad behaviors. The more great news is that not only are these people living longer, but their quality of life has improved markedly.
I would like to suggest that we could extend the life of our teeth if we follow good oral habits also.
I have my own 5 habits to help our teeth.
The 5 Oral Health Habits to Extend the Life of Our Teeth:
Use your teeth for what they were designed for – eating.
Replace missing teeth.
Fix broken teeth
Get your teeth checked and cleaned regularly.
Brush & floss daily
Using our teeth for things other than eating, like opening beer bottles with one’s teeth is akin to smoking.
Not fixing a broken tooth is akin to excessive drinking.
Not replacing missing teeth is akin to excessive weight.
Not getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis is akin to not exercising regularly.
Brushing and flossing are akin to eating in a healthful fashion.
These are all modifiable factors that will either extend or shorten the lifespan of our teeth. In many cases, they will allow us to keep our teeth throughout our entire lives. The health of our teeth is in our control.
If you are a regular reader of this column and have been considering putting emphasis on the care and health of your teeth, now is a great time to start.
Take my 5 Oral Health Habits to heart and call me. I can be reached at 400.951.7856. Talk to Megan and she will start you on the highway to better teeth. I look forward to hearing from you.
As the new year approaches, we are all thinking of making resolutions to improve our lives and our health. As a dentist committed to you and your family’s good health, I’d like to suggest resolving to improve your oral health in 2018. However, a resolution without a plan is planning to fail. Read on to make this year’s resolution a successful one.
Can You Make A Suggestion for Mouth Care Priorities for the New Year?
You bet I can! Before I do, allow me a moment to wish a Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that this year will be filled with wonderful things for everyone. Now let me get to our topic at hand.
Making a Fresh Start
There is no feeling better than that of making a fresh start. Our lives revolve around a yearly calendar. We get this fantastic opportunity to refresh and recharge ourselves mentally. I can not stress how important this is, to every one of us. As the time goes by, we rarely think of ourselves. The month of January allows us to reflect upon ourselves and look at how we can do things differently than in the past. The guiding motivation is not only “different,” but “better.” It is a well-known fact that memberships in health clubs explode in January. Unfortunately, few people maintain the enthusiasm and commitment as time goes on.
Today, let’s focus on making our goals real and attainable. Specifically, I am going to focus on techniques to improve our oral health. I have spoken at length in this column and face to face in the office about the impact of oral health on our general health. My suggestions will, therefore, have implications that go beyond the mouth. Its ramifications are endless.
One of the reasons that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is that they are too broad and extensive. This translates into unrealistic goals and expectations. The key to success is to think of a small and incremental change that will impact you and your life. Once you have that thought, then make the change even more modest. Make it something that you can do immediately and simply. Okay, so let’s look at my list.
5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Oral Health.
1. Get a New Toothbrush.
This is so simple. A builder once told me that “new” is always good. He is absolutely right about this concept. It applies equally as well in the mouth. Toothbrushes are most efficient when the bristles are fresh. Over time, they do not clean as well. For the short term, our mouths do not feel as fresh with a worn brush. In the long run, they are not doing their job causing problems, and we are wasting our time.
2. Get Your Teeth Cleaned.
Now is a great time to set up a cleaning visit. We all overate during the holiday season and probably didn’t brush as well as we should. The timing is perfect to remove the tartar and stain from our teeth. Seeing freshly cleaned teeth is always a great motivator for oral health.
3. Select One Need and Take Care of It.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by recommended procedures. It is merely easier to forget everything in the face of multiple needs. For example, you may need four fillings. Rather than just letting things go, pick one filling and get it taken care of. If you follow that approach, it will be much easier and not be such a burden on you regarding time, effort and possibly finances.
4. Eliminate One Junk Food Daily.
Junk food, in general, and holiday treats specifically, all wreak havoc with our mouths. These sticky foods do not come off of our teeth naturally. It takes work to remove them from our tooth enamel. Usually, the time and place are inconvenient for efficient removal of sticky food products. I recommend that you stock up or carry a sweet fruit with you. It is loaded with fiber, great nutrients and really will satisfy your sweet tooth.
5. Spend Another 30 Seconds Brushing Your Teeth
We all spend too little time brushing. Once we have made an effort to go to a bathroom, haul out the toothbrush and turn on the sink water we have done all of the hard things. It is so easy to spend a little more time brushing and try to reach our goal of debris free teeth. Another half of a minute is time well spent.
These are all goals and techniques that are easy to do. Find one that you like and adopt it. It will stay with you and reward you in the future. If you have any question about my FIVE STEPS, please call me at 440.951.7856. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here’s to a successful New Year’s resolution for a Healthy Smile!
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.
Do you find that you are always having issues maintaining your teeth properly? Have you resigned yourself to always having tooth decay? Do you dread visiting the dentist because of it? “I can’t help it! Soft teeth run in my family” While some factors in keeping your mouth healthy are not entirely left to your discretion, the fact remains, good oral health IS up to you.
“Your teeth look fantastic!”
That’s what I said to a patient last Friday morning as I finished her 6-month checkup and cleaning. This patient was seen all too often for decay, root canals, and crowns. It felt like every few months, she was calling with broken teeth and pain. What was her response to my comment? She showed me a great smile and said: “I started to floss”.
Nutrition isn’t the only consideration for a healthy snack
There’s actually a lot more to the story than that. She is actually a raisin lover. Every morning, it was Raisin Bran. Snacks all day long were raisins. Now don’t get me wrong. Raisins, or dried fruit in general, are great snacks to eat. Raisins are a snack rich in B vitamins, iron and potassium. Low in sodium, and high fiber is some of its other positive attributes. Besides nutrients, raisins are also a good source of carbohydrates for energy. Plus they are not loaded with all types of chemicals that we find in processed foods.
However, it is a sticky food. So all day long it sits and sticks in and around the teeth. This is a formula for disaster. This is especially true if we have a lot of fillings or as we age and expose more root surface. Therefore, removal of the sticky, sugary residue is paramount to reaping all of the health benefits of this great snack while minimizing its downside.
Good oral health is like a three legged stool
Health and particularly oral health is like a “three-legged stool”. You need all three legs for the stool to stand upright. If one of the legs is faulty the stool can not stand. It will topple over. Having a healthy oral environment is dependent on three factors as well. These factors of good oral health are not in any particular order as we talk about them.
Leg 1: Your diet
First of all, we need to watch what we eat. The texture and makeup of foods can promote or deter oral disease. Certain foods are more conducive to creating an environment where bad bacteria can survive and grow. These bacteria are the prime culprits in cavities and gum disease.
These bacteria love the sticky and gooey foods that we all enjoy. As long as the food is stuck in our mouths, these bacteria have a Thanksgiving Day feast. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the bad effects of this feast.
Leg 2: Oral hygiene
Related to the first one, the second leg of our good oral health stool involves oral hygiene. In fact, it helps control the first one if sticky foods are a large part of our diet. It is comprised of those activities and tools that we use to reducing the effect of foods on our teeth. It is our actions that we employ to keep our mouth clean.
Brushing, flossing, using an oral irrigating device are some of those activities that we utilize to attain a clean mouth. Even rinsing one’s mouth with water after eating can be beneficial in certain circumstances. Yes, anything is better than nothing, which means the more you clean, the cleaner and better your oral health can be. So frequency is also an important factor.
Leg 3: Our DNA and predispositions
While the first two legs, we can control entirely. The last supporting leg of our good oral health stool is our own genetic makeup. Our personal DNA composition and how prone we are to decay or gum disease. The reality is you may have a genetic predisposition to ‘soft teeth’ or ‘ bad gums’ which is detrimental to good oral health.
Well, that’s a bum rap! We can not control that at all. I believed that until I recently learned some new facts. I read and listen to a number of physicians. One of the latest trends in medicine is how lifestyle interacts with the cards that we are dealt with, in other words, our genetic makeup. I recently had a conversation with a cardiologist who told me that even though someone may have genes for heart issues, one’s habits and lifestyle may prevent those “bad” genes from ever turning on. In other words, create an environment where your genetic makeup has a minimal influence on bad things happening to you.
Regarding your oral health, this translates to proper diet, brushing well and often, and seeing a professional at the recommended intervals so you can control the age old “soft teeth” or “bad gums run in my family” issues. Staying away from junk and practicing cleanliness will do wonders for our oral health. In fact, that is a prescription for good overall health in general.
Control your dental destiny
So if you are searching for a way to change your dental future and control your dental destiny, please feel free to call me and let’s talk about it. Good oral health is achievable! My wonderful staff and I will do everything that we can to move you along the way to this goal. I can be reached at 440.951.7856 and look forward to speaking to you.