Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 10:32 pm
Food is the Best Medicine for Gum Disease and Gum Care
And A Wholesome Diet Is Also Good for the Brain
Gum disease can be elusive. By the time symptoms appear, the disease is already advanced. It is estimated that as much as 80% of the population is affected by gum disease, signs of which can range from simple bleeding gums to sore, loose teeth. What does gum disease have to do with stress, inflammation and intestinal permeability, commonly known as leaky gut?
The modern day American diet and environmental toxicity, when combined with our stressful lifestyle, has increased our level of inflammation. This affects the body’s ability to self-regulate and function optimally. One of the first things affected by stress is our gut or intestines, but it doesn’t stop there. Once the gut lining is inflamed, then other systems often follow suit, including organs, hormones, the immune system, and the brain. Keep in mind that approximately 50% of our immune production is contained within the gut lining.
The impact of a leaky gut on brain functions happens via the connection through the vagus nerve, which regulates intestinal blood flow and immune activation. Secretion of hormones from the hypothalamus is also involved. Numerous studies have shown that disturbed neural regulation, inflammation and/or trauma along what is known as the brain/gut axis will disregulate both systems. At some point, this inflammatory condition will affect the gums as well.
One root cause of intestinal permeability is traumatic stress of any type. Any impactful event with life-changing consequences can be a stressor of such magnitude that it causes the gut to lose its ability to function properly. Examples of this may include loss of a job, death or injury or a loved one and divorce. Commonplace yet significant events like childbirth or changing residences can be traumatic enough on a cellular level to cause the tight junctions of the intestines to weaken and loosen, thus allowing through substances that can become immune triggers. This is one way that the cycle of leaky gut begins, which may impact the signs and symptoms of gum disease.
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 11:32 pm
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines dental cavities or “caries” as the “result of bacteria on teeth that breakdown foods and produce acid that destroys tooth enamel and results in tooth decay”.
I see the result of sugar and poor diet on teeth every day. This coupled with inadequate oral hygeine/home care is the difference between dental health and decay. When I see the effects on the oral cavity, it makes me wonder what sugar, processed foods, and improper diet does to the body as a whole in terms of acidity, plaque in the arteries, inability to detoxify, and breakdown of the organs and immune systems. It is a humbling thought.
The acid stays present on the teeth because of either poor brushing and flossing habits (oral hygiene) and/or the presence of too much acidity in the saliva, which feeds the decay-causing bacteria and causes it to flourish. Children from age 6 until adolescence are at risk for cavities because their constant exposure to sweets, whether in the form of all-too-prevalent candy or ‘good-for-you’ fruit juices, which contain a high degree of fructose. While fructose is a natural sugar, it is still a sweet and will feed the bacteria that causes tooth decay. My youngest patient is currently two years old and has cavities.
In my holistic dental practice, I strongly espouse the basics. What you do every day to maintain the health of the mouth pays dividends on many levels. Keeping your mouth and gums bacteria free and thus inflammation free has become recognized as having a role in the health of your heart and blood vessels. Brushing and flossing really are important. Yes often it is inconvenient, but once a day is all you need to maintain your teeth in a healthy state. If you have trouble with inflammation, maybe twice a day with regular cleanings will be necessary.
If you have bleeding gums when you brush or when you have cleanings done at the dental office, or if you have pocketing over 3 millimeters when measured by your dentist, then more than the basics may be necessary. Often deep cleanings or root planing is recommended. However, I have found that bringing the inflammation down first is more effective than just deep cleanings. I have spoken about the holistic gel treatment I do in my dental practice in previous posts. What I haven’t spoken about is the overall effect it has on the health of the mouth.
Basically, less bacteria and less inflammation leads to less plaque and less decay. Really healthy gums means healthier teeth. The two go hand in hand. With this foundation, good home care and a good holistic dentist who is focused on the preservation of your teeth, you will have your teeth for a lifetime.
Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 4:08 pm
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the earth’s crust and makes up more than 3% of the crust. Classified chemically in Group 2 of the periodic table as one of the alkaline, metallic earth elements, it does not occur as the metal itself in nature and instead is found in various minerals including as limestone, gypsum and fluorite. The most abundant mineral in the human body, calcium is one of the most important elements in the diet because it is a structural component of bones, teeth, and soft tissues and is essential in many of the body’s metabolic processes.
Absorption of calcium is affected by many factors, including age, the amount needed, and what foods are eaten at the same time. The calcium 2+ ion is involved in many physiologic processes and is one of the most important macronutrients for the body’s growth and general cellular function. It is needed for every organ and cell to function, for example, it is necessary for the electrical charge of the heart beating. Among its many physiological functions is nerve impulse conduction. Calcium metabolism or calcium homeostasis is the mechanism by which the body maintains adequate calcium levels.
As the most abundant metallic element in the human body, it is an essential constituent of bones and teeth. About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is found in our bones and teeth. It is essential not only for the formation, mineralization and maintenance of bones and teeth but also for the development of healthy gums. Most people are aware that calcium plays a role in bone density, in keeping bones and teeth strong. Both baby teeth and adult teeth need calcium to grow and develop. It combines with phosphorus in a crystalline form of calcium phosphate, the dense, hard material of the bones and teeth. Your bones and teeth serve as reservoirs that your blood taps into for its ongoing need for calcium. Calcium release from bone is regulated by the parathyroid hormone.
Calcium is better absorbed from food sources than taken as supplements. Widely used in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, calcium levels are tightly controlled by a complex interaction of hormones and vitamins. Alone it can’t prevent or treat osteoporosis, but an adequate calcium intake is needed for any other treatment to work. Ultimately, the amount of calcium that your blood saps from your bones and teeth is determined by the amount of calcium that your blood receives from your diet.
When you realize that there is as much or more calcium in 4 ounces of firm tofu or 3/4 cup of collard greens as there is in one cup of cow’s milk, it is easy to see why people who do not drink cow’s milk may still have strong bones and teeth. However, eating plenty of healthy, calcium-rich foods does not guarantee that you will have healthy bones and teeth. Your body still needs the ability to absorb and metabolize the calcium it receives, which can also be a function of how well your food is digested. Good digestion begins with healthy teeth and properly chewing your food, so don’t forget that regular dental maintenance is a health issue as well.
Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 11:48 am
Whiter. brighter teeth is all the rage these days. It is something most everyone can do to improve the overall appearance of your teeth and smile. Most bleaching systems today use some form of carbamide peroxide, which is different than the type you usually get for your medicine cabinet. It comes in a gel and can be used either at home (applied directly to your teeth or in trays), or in the dental office with special lights and higher concentrations.
A question I get quite often is, “Is bleaching safe?” and “Does it leach or damage my teeth?” What I always tell my patients is that whitening is something you can do for yourself that is easy and relatively inexpensive. While there are ingredients in the gels that I am not a fan of, like glycerine and propolyne glycol, I give patients detailed instructions on how to minimize exposure, including how not to swallow it during use.
In regards to the second question, it appears that part of the leaching proccess that pulls the “stain” or yellowness out of your teeth involves decalcification of the surface enamel. If you can imagine the surface of your teeth under a high powered microscope you would see a slight etched or a ‘frosty’ appearance to the surface of the enamel. This is decalcification.
In the study A Basic Study on Dental Whitening and Relapse by Extrinsic Stain printed in the Ohu University Dental Journal, it is postulated that relapse occurs or that the initial whiteness acheived will fade because of recalcificationof your teeth from minerals in your saliva. To quote the study this is, “Due to various substances in saliva deposited on the enamel surface coarsened by whitening and decalcification.”
The study uses recalcifying agents to prove that decalcification of the tooth surface has occurred. There has been more products coming to market attempting to address this concern. I have seen more bleaching products come with some recalcifying ingredient mixed into the gel. I’m not sure of the efficacy of these ingredients or if the strategy of putting them into the gel itself is effective.
What I am recommending to my patients is that they use a product that remineralizes teeth after they bleach their teeth. There are various products for this but the simplest one is using salt water and baking soda. This is an age old formula used to tighten gums and make your mouth more alkaline. However, it is important to do this correctly. I will dedicate tomorrows post on just how to use this health promoting combination when you brush your teeth.
Another product that I have found to be effective is a mineral powder that can be used when you brush your teeth. There are other benefits to using this product as well in promoting a healthy mouth. I will dedicate a future post to this product as well. Soon I promise.
Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 7:00 pm
Acid Alkaline balance is important for our health. It is no different for our mouths. To moniter PH of the mouth is very easy. Go down to a health food store and ask for pHydrion PH paper. If they don’t have it, you can send away for it. It should cost in the range of $8 to $10.
Once you get the paper roll, tear off about an inch of it and get it wet from your saliva in your mouth. You should try to wait an hour or two since your last meal. The paper should be blue or blue green. Blue basically means your saliva is alkaline which is what you want. If you see blue this means that your saliva is balanced and your body is going to be balanced as well. Yellow means your saliva is acidic which is not so good. Green or yellow green means slightly acidic.
The PH of the saliva usually mirrors the PH of your body to some degree although the saliva can vary depending on your recent diet, sleep patterns and stress levels. Also, if you have recently binged on sugar, carbs or had alcohol in the last 12 hours, your saliva PH can be more acidic than normal. If you have acidic saliva there are definate steps that can be taken to counteract and reverse the acidity. Look for more on PH balance and its importance to our health in the next few days.