This article on Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation in AARP is one of the easiest to understand that I've found.
The article explains how chronic low grade inflammation affects your body by attacking the linings of your arteries or intestines and by attacking cells in the liver and brain, and by attacking tissues in your muscles and joints. Links to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis and depression have been established.
Why is this so important from the dental standpoint? As the article points out in the section header "There are 'pro-inflammatory foods'?", gingivitis and periodontal disease (both problems with your gums) are both forms of chronic inflammation. The good news is, there is something you can do about gingivities and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the early form of chronic inflammation. The suffix -itis is what we use to denote inflammation. Thus gingivitis is inflammation of the gingiva (or gums). Gingivitis is contained mostly in your gums with very little affect on the underlying bone and other support structures for your teeth. Often having your teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis and properly doing your daily oral hygiene regimen at home will reduce or eliminate gingivitis. (But if you slack off, the gingivitis can return.)
Periodontal disease (which used to be called periodontitis) involves your gums, bone, and other supporting structures around the teeth. The chronic inflammation creates an environment that the bone around your teeth doesn't like. Over time, the bone responds by moving away from the source of the inflammation. Unfortunately, this often creates a pocket between your teeth and gums that tends to trap more food and bacteria and continues the inflammation response--continuing the unfavorable environment, and causing more loss of bone as it continues to try to get away from that environment.
Unfortunately, once you've lost bone and other supporting structures around your teeth, there isn't a way to replace them. THERE IS NO CURE!
Yes, we can clean up the area by doing "deep cleanings" (your insurance will call it Scaling and Root Planing) or by having surgical gum treatments, but the minute you (or we) back off, the bacteria can set up shop again and in about 3-4 months will build up enough in their number and toxic effect to start breaking down the supporting structures for your teeth again. This is why we recommend you return to your dentist every 3 to 4 months for a procedure called "Periodontal Maintenance" (which is basically a deep cleaning for your entire mouth)--we don't want your dental health to relapse--because when the process gets far enough along TOOTH LOSS is the result.
Conventional dental teaching states that when your gums bleed, bacteria from the mouth can enter your bloodstream and affect other body systems, like your heart. So it only makes sense to keep your gums as healthy as you can so you can enjoy not only your best dental health but your best overall health as well.
*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W
Lorain, OH 44053-3614
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to whether nutrition will improve your dental condition. Everyone’s body is unique, and we all react differently. However, if you have persistent problems, it might be worth trying some of these to see how your body reacts. In most cases dietary sources (foods) are better than taking supplements.
If you have soft, spongy gums—try adding vitamin C to your diet and decreasing grains in your diet. The Vitamin C recommendation comes from studies on scurvy (which affected gums too). Be aware though that too much vitamin C can counteract the effects of “Novocaine” so avoid diets high in Vitamin C for a day or two before a dental appointment if you plan to have local anesthesia.
For problems with the hard parts of your teeth:
Fat soluble vitamins A & D are needed for production of osteocalcin (which deposits phosphorus and calcium in our bones). Some studies show that diets deficient in these vitamins result in more tooth decay. Vitamin A (retinol) also helps your body utilize calcium and increases growth factors which stimulates bones and teeth to repair.
Some studies have shown that grass fed butter in the diet increases resistance to tooth decay. The reason for this is unknown.
Dr. Melvin Page did studies showing blood sugar fluctuations pull calcium and phosphorus from teeth and bones. Stable blood sugars are better for reducing tooth decay. All sweet foods (both artificial and natural) cause blood sugar fluctuations. The longer the fluctuations the more minerals are pulled from your system. The more often you’re eating, the less time your blood sugar has to return to normal. His recommendations were:
- Limit sweet fruits (berries, peaches, bananas, pineapple, dried fruits) until tooth decay is under control.
- Only have fruit around the middle of the day, such as after lunch. Sour berries such as raspberry, kiwi or green apples are the best ones.
- For those with severe cavities or those who want to stop the rapid process of tooth decay, avoid all sweets and fruits.
There are many sources that discuss sugar and other sweeteners in our diet. We do know that mouth bacteria consume sugar present in our mouth and put out acid as their waste product. Conventional dental teaching states that this acid is what breaks down the tooth enamel. Some authors indicate honey (choose unheated or never heated) is a better sweetener than sugar. Other authors discourage using honey because it is an animal product. Maple syrup (grade B organic is best) is a sweetner that most authors feel is better. And believe it or not some authors recommend real cane sugar if you need a sweetener.
Among the artificial sweeteners, stevia is recommended to be used cautiously—the minimally processed fresh herb is the safest. Sources say to avoid stevia extracts or overly processed stevia and to not use stevia stored in glycerin.
Sweeteners that most sources say to avoid are:
- high fructose corn syrup and agave—they’re both manufactured.
- sugar alcohols (xylitol etc. these usually end in –ol). Confusing since many dental recommended products (like sugar free gum) use xylitol. For some people, consuming too much of the sugar alcohols can upset their digestive system.
- artificial or fake sweeteners (aspartarme , NutraSweet, etc.).
- brown rice syrup and malted grain sweeteners (some sources say toxins from the crops can taint them).
If you already have severe dental issues, you probably will not be able to correct them with diet alone. You may need the assistance of a dentist or dental specialist to get the disease(s) under control. However, if you’re in an earlier stage of dental disease, you might try some of these nutrition tips and see if you (or your dentist) notice a difference.
Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement and advice of your own healthcare professionals. Please discuss any changes with your own healthcare professionals.
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist who sees both adults and children
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053
The fast-paced world of sports and entertainment isn’t all glitz and glamour. These high-profile industries create a unique kind of emotional and mental stress on celebrities. For many of them, a way to “let off steam” is an oral habit known as teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding is an involuntary habit in which a person bites and grinds their teeth outside of normal activities like eating or speaking. It’s common among young children, who usually grow out of it, but it can also affect adults, especially those who deal with chronic stress. If not addressed, teeth grinding can eventually wear down teeth, damage gum attachments or fracture weaker teeth. It can even contribute to tooth loss.
A number of well-known personalities in the spotlight struggle with teeth grinding, including actress Vivica Fox, model and TV host Chrissy Teigen, and star athletes Tara Lipinski and Milos Raonic of ice skating and tennis fame, respectively. The habit represents not only a threat to their dental health, but also to one of their most important career assets: an attractive and inviting smile. Fortunately, though, they each use a similar device to manage their teeth grinding.
Besides seeking ways to better manage life stress, individuals with a teeth-grinding habit can protect their teeth with a custom mouthguard from their dentist. Made of slick plastic, this device is worn over the teeth, usually while sleeping, to minimize dental damage. During a grinding episode, the teeth can’t make contact with each other due to the guard’s glossy surface—they simply slide away from each other. This reduces the biting forces and eliminates the potential for wear, the main sources of dental damage.
Chrissy Teigen, co-host with LL Cool J on the game show Lip Sync Battle, wears her custom-made guard regularly at night. She even showed off her guard to her fans once during a selfie-video posted on Snapchat and Twitter. Vivica Fox, best known for her role in Independence Day, also wears her guard at night, and for an additional reason: The guard helps protect her porcelain veneers, which could be damaged if they encounter too much biting force.
Mouthguards are a prominent part of sports, usually to protect the teeth and gums from injury. Some athletes, though, wear them because of their teeth grinding habit. Tara Lipinski, world renowned figure skater and media personality, keeps hers on hand to wear at night even when she travels. And Milos Raonic, one of the world’s top professional tennis players, wears his during matches—the heat of competition tends to trigger his own teeth-grinding habit.
These kinds of mouthguards aren’t exclusive to celebrities. If you or a family member contends with this bothersome habit, we may be able to create a custom mouthguard for you. It won’t stop teeth grinding, but it could help protect your teeth—and your smile.
If you would like more information about protecting your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”
Though we call them x-rays, the proper term is dental radiographs. X-rays are the energy the machine puts out to create the image (dental radiograph). For the purposes of this article though, we’ll use the commonly used term x-rays.
The main reason we take x-rays is to help diagnose problems that can’t be seen by the naked eye (or even the magnified eye). They allow us to see areas in between your teeth that we can’t otherwise see. This lets us find dental cavities at an earlier stage so that you can get a filling (rather than having to wait until they become so large that they cause pain and need a root canal or removal). They also allow us to see your jawbone, from which we can see bone levels around your teeth (to screen for periodontal disease) and pathology in the bone or around teeth. We can also see teeth that haven’t erupted yet such as wisdom teeth.
How often routine dental x-rays are taken should be based on your oral health, condition, age, risk for disease, signs and symptoms.
X-rays from decades ago relied more on heavy concentrations of radiation. Today’s x-rays use faster speed films (less radiation) or are digital (even less radiation). So today’s x-rays are very safe. In fact, you probably get more radiation by being outside on a sunny day or sitting in front of your television than you will from your dental x-rays!
Some sources say you have the right to refuse dental x-rays at your visit. The flip side to this is that dentists can’t knowingly be negligent in their treatment of a patient. What this means is that your dentist may refuse to treat you if you refuse to have dental x-rays that your dentist feels are necessary for his/her diagnosis or treatment of your problem.
Note: The information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your health care provider.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees adults and children at her dental office located at:
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053
You can find some version of the ever popular kids’ meal at most major fast-food restaurants. It’s a neat little package: child’s size portions of burgers, chicken nuggets or sides—and often a small toy or treat to boot—all tucked into its own colorful cardboard container.
The drive-thru menu board at your favorite fast-food joint gives you plenty of choices to fill out your child’s meal. But you may notice something missing on many major chains’ kids’ menus—the mention of soft drinks as a beverage choice. You can still get one for your child’s meal, but the visual cue is no more on the menu board.
None of the “Big Three”—Burger King, McDonald’s or Wendy’s—post soft drinks as a menu item for their kid’s meals. It’s the result of an effort by health advocates promoting less soda consumption by children, the leading source of calories in the average child’s diet. With its high sugar content, it’s believed to be a major factor in the steep rise in child obesity over the last few years.
Sodas and similar beverages are also prime suspects in the prevalence of tooth decay among children. Besides sugar, these beverages are also high in acid, which can erode tooth enamel. These two ingredients combined in soda can drastically increase your child’s risk of tooth decay if they have a regular soda habit.
You can minimize this threat to their dental health by reducing their soda consumption. It’s important not to create a habit of automatically including sodas with every meal, especially when dining out. Instead, choose other beverages: Water by far is the best choice, followed by regular milk. Chocolate milk and juice are high in sugar, but they’re still a healthier choice than sodas due to their nutrient content.
Keeping sodas to a minimum could help benefit your child later in life by reducing their risk for heart disease, diabetes and other major health problems. It will also help them avoid tooth decay and the problems that that could cause for their current and future dental health.
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