When we last considered diet in my post on “Eating on the Wlid Side,” I promised some tips on eating for better dental health. Most of what I have to say is old news, like avoiding sticky and sugary snacks like caramels and the like. But it is important to understand why this matters.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay are acid loving. In other words, they live in an acid environment and produce acids which contribute to tooth decay and inflammation in the gums. The easiest food for them to digest is sugar. Bacteria convert sugar straight to acid which in turn promotes an acid environment in the mouth by raising the pH of the saliva. It’s a vicious cycle!
There are several ways to try and combat this, the easiest being to avoid the sugary refined carbohydrates that the bacteria love. This also includes soda, energy drinks and most sport drinks. It especially includes anything sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because certain elements of HFCS are not filtered by our salivary glands leading to more decay.
One newer alternative to dealing with the problem of salivary pH is to eat more foods containing arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid needed for health. It is contained in foods such as spinach, soy, seafood and nuts. When arginine starts to be digested in our mouths, It makes our saliva more “basic” by raising the pH. This creates an environment that is unfavorable to the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
You can also help to accomplish this by brushing with baking soda or by mixing it with your toothpaste! We could go on and on about this so let me just close by saying, “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you.” Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have or contact Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA today to schedule your next appointment and we can talk more about this.
Recently I read a book by Jo Robinson entitled “Eating on the Wild Side”. Basically it’s a well-researched exploration of the evolution of most of the fruits and vegetables we consume. It’s a fascinating read if you have an interest in food. It describes how through decades of cross-breeding and tampering with our food to make it look more appealing, taste sweeter and last longer on store shelves, we have basically destroyed much of the nutritional value of the fruits and veggies we eat.
Some of you may have realized since my feature article in the Doylestown Hospital “Dialogue” magazine, that I am somewhat of a closet “foodie”! It seems that everyone these days is on some kind of special diet, whether it’s the Paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, or some blend of vegan-vegetarian regime. I myself have been trying to stick to a pescatarian diet (fish and vegetables) ever since the “pink slime” Incident a few years ago gave a black eye to the meat packing industry.
Regardless, talking about one’s personal eating habits is akin to trying to have a rational discussion about politics or religion these days. And what, if anything, does any of this have to do with dentistry? Well, what we consume can have a definite contributory effect on our oral health.
Watch for an upcoming blog on foods that can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If you have questions that just can’t wait…please give me a call at the office at 216-230-7667. or contact Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA today to schedule your next appointment and we can talk more about this. Until then…happy dining!
The first time I heard of “oil pulling “ was a few years ago when a periodontist friend of mine suggested it for a patient of ours who was not responding to traditional therapy. I decided to write this blog about it in part because another patient asked me about it this morning. Apparently this centuries-old Ayurveda technique has seen a resurgence in popular culture. Why, I’m not sure!
The practice itself involves swishing oil (usually sesame, olive, sunflower or coconut oil) in the mouth for twenty minutes and then spitting it out. Theoretically, this “pulls” harmful bacteria and toxins from the body and traps them in the oil.
The ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda claims that oil pulling can be used to treat some 30 systemic diseases. What limited studies there are demonstrate that this practice can be used to reduce halitosis (bad breath) and to control the bacteria associated with tooth decay. Anecdotal claims have been made that suggest oil pulling can also reduce plaque and tarter in the mouth and even whiten teeth!
While there may in fact be some value to oil pulling, what bothers me the most about the practice is why someone would undertake this when we have so many tried and proven methods for achieving the same or better results today. In addition, I find that most people have a difficult enough time finding two minutes a day to brush and floss their teeth, let alone taking 20 minutes for oil pulling. That being said, if you are so inclined to try this technique, I would be more than happy to hear about your experiences with it next time you visit the office.
Please contact Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA today to schedule your next appointment.