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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
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
In a few days, we’ll be wishing each other “Happy New Year!”! For most of us, the New Year signals a time to make resolutions for the months ahead. We may decide to eat healthier or exercise more. How many of us think to include our dental health in our plans for the year? After all, healthy teeth are what allow us to chew that healthy food (as well as the rewards we give ourselves for reaching some of these goals!)
The health of your mouth is also linked to your overall health. Now, a healthy mouth will not magically solve all your medical problems, but it also won’t hurt them. You’ll also have the added benefit of being more likely to keep your own teeth and being less likely to have gum disease or dental cavities. A pretty smile is an advantage in many areas of life.
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, you will probably need to start your road to dental health there. Hard deposits on your teeth need to be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Hard buildup on your teeth causes your gums to be sore just like a hard pebble in your shoe can cause a sore foot. Dental cavities or infections also need to be addressed.
Once you have your mouth on the road to its best dental health, you can maintain it by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day to clean the areas where your toothbrush can’t reach, and seeing your dentist at regular intervals.
Of course, we all know that despite our best intentions, many resolutions are discarded within the first few weeks of the New Year. In fact, this very subject came up recently at a brunch meeting at which I first heard of a simple method taught by BJ Fogg, PhD for making something new a habit. It’s a very simple method with only 3 steps. I will share the basics here:
- Step 1: Simplify what you want to do into very small steps. It might even be so small as to seem silly. For example: Moving the postcard from your dentist to a spot where you’ll see it everyday, Moving your floss container so it sits next to your toothbrush or toothpaste, or Committing to flossing one tooth a day.
- Step 2: Decide after which step in your current routine, this step will fit. Putting it after an action that is part of your routine will make it easier to remember. For example, you might decide to Floss one tooth after your morning toothbrushing or to Preschedule your next dental check up visit while you’re at your dentist’s office so you don’t have to remember to call for an appointment.
- Step 3: Focus on incorporating this tiny step into your routine each and every day. At first you will probably need reminders, but over time it will become easier.
You’re probably saying “How will committing to flossing one tooth make a difference?” Starting with a small commitment that you know you can keep increases your chances of success. Once you’ve successfully built this small piece into your routine, you can start the process over again with the next small step. Seeing yourself succeed at each of these smaller steps will spur you on to continue the process until you reach the desired result.
If you do not have a dentist to start you along this process, I invite you to call my
office at 440-960-1940 or contact us through my website at www.drjrobb.com
These blog articles started because of a column called Health Talk in "The Morning Journal" newspaper. I have enjoyed writing them. My inspiration for topics comes from a variety of sources: questions from my patients or the public, my interest in English language (sayings about teeth), and others.
Unfortunately, my contact at "The Morning Journal" informed me earlier this month (December 2019) that the newspaper has decided to discontinue the Health Talk column at the end of 2019. I appreciate all the readers who have followed my articles there and have invited them to continue to read articles here, on my blog at www.drjrobb.com. I appreciate all of you who read them here on the website blog as well.
I am sad to see Health Talk end, but hope that the future will bring additional opportunities.
I will continue to post articles on this blog! Currently, you can see when a new one posts if you're a member of my Facebook group www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb or you can subscribe to the RSS feed here (That's the little orange symbol with the 3 curves that looks like a sideways wifi signal.) or just bookmark the page and check back.
Don't forget, we have moved to a new location just east down the street from where we previously were. We are working on getting signs for the building and the signpost. Our move happened about a full month before we thought it would, which is good for us, but it does mean not everything was as far along "in the pipeline" as we had originally anticipated.
Our new address is 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W, Lorain, OH 44053. We are in a one story, 4 unit, gray building located between the old Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (the parking lot now houses overflow trucks from LakeShore Auto across the street) and Dr. Sfeir's office. Our unit is the one closest to the former Re-Store. Other businesses in our building are Styling by Alessio's (hair and nails), AllState Insurance, and Crawford Resources. Across the street is the pink building that houses Rehabilitation Consultants and Lake Shore Auto's lot.
Our phone number remains the same--440-960-1940. Hope to see you there!