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.
My Upper Front Teeth are in Front of my Bottom Teeth. Can You Fix It?
When you say “Fix”, it implies that something is broken. As such we have to determine what is broken and then proceed to fix it. I hear this statement many times or I’m asked as a question regarding the position of the upper front teeth in relation to the lower front teeth. It is usually preceded by “my bite is all messed up…look at my front teeth!” The truth of the matter is, ‘misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.
Why we have different shaped teeth
Before we determine if the bite is “all messed up”, we have to examine the shape and function of teeth. I have touched upon this in the past, but a review is good for all of us.
Have you ever wondered why teeth have different shapes? Let’s think together and try to compare teeth to other parts of the body in an effort to answer this question. The best comparison which can be made is to our fingers. Our fingers and thumbs are different in size, shape, and position. Why is this so? The answer is very simple. It is a function of different jobs for different fingers.
Each of our fingers has its own particular function and that finger is best suited for that activity. In addition to that, the different shapes of the fingers allow each one to work in group function with the other fingers. For example, our thumb is called “opposable”. That means that is be placed opposite the fingers of the same hand to grab something. Opposable thumbs that allow fingers to hold an item are a unique feature of humans and other primates.
Different shaped teeth serve different functions
Okay, enough about fingers. Let’s get back to the teeth. If we take what we learned about fingers and apply it back to the teeth, we have our answer. Teeth have different shapes, just like fingers have different shapes because their functions are different.
We say that we chew with our teeth. This “chewing” activity is actually a complicated process. It involves grabbing the food, tearing the food, cutting it into smaller pieces. After all of this, the food is ground or “humanly pureed” to allow us to easily swallow and digest the food.
The back teeth are broad and flat as they act like little millstones in a grinding wheel. The front teeth are first in line to encounter food and must rip, tear, and slice. Just like a pair of scissors that have the blades go past each other to cut, so too, our upper teeth are slightly ahead of our lower teeth to create a scissor-like action. This slices the food into a more manageable size. Think of eating an apple. We first “bite” with our front teeth and then move the food to the back of the mouth for the “grinding” process. The sum total of all of this mastication is called chewing.
”Misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.
So now we understand that our upper front teeth must be long and narrow and work with the lower front teeth to initiate the chewing process. This is best accomplished when our upper front teeth do not meet the lower front teeth head on, but rather are slightly forward to create the scissor movement that is needed. In addition to inefficient biting, having the upper teeth meeting the lower teeth directly causes undue wear and tear on these teeth. Edges can chip and fracture as a result. You want to have your teeth slightly ‘misaligned’ – it keeps them functioning properly! That’s right! ‘Misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.
I just saw a patient yesterday that fractured her front tooth right down to the gum. This occurred because her upper front tooth was receiving all the force of her bite. Despite having a crown on her tooth, she still fractured her tooth! Since her tooth is actually slightly off in position that created this recipe for disaster. She was referred to me to remove the root and do an implant. I will st rive to place the implant in a position that will be kinder to the final result.
So the next time that you look in the mirror and smile. Don’t put your upper teeth directly on top of your bottom teeth. That is not proper tooth alignment. If for some reason you see this, go to your dentist and ask for an opinion. If you don’t have a dentist that you see on a regular basis, please call and ask to speak to me at 440.951.7856. I will try my best to help you. Looking forward to conversing with you!