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Ignore Your Teeth, Ignore Your Health

Posted May 06 2010 8:06pm

In This Issue:

By Lisa Forgione, MD

I work in a small rural ER. I should have been a dentist! Many of our patient visits are for oral hygiene facial soft tissue infections related to dental caries (cavities) that are sometimes very severe. We also see a fair amount of dental abscesses, gum disease and related conditions. Unfortunately, there is not much for us to do.

Most of these people don’t realize that aside from their pain and discomfort, dental caries and periodontal disease (chronic gum infection and swelling leading to tooth loss) can cause coronary artery disease, heart attack, serious infection of the heart valves, pneumonia, stroke, low birth weight in newborns and diabetes.

An interesting fact is that dental caries are the most common chronic disease in the world. While there have been amazing advances in dentistry, many people do not receive prophylactic (preventative) cleanings and exams. Their visit to the dentist comes when a cavity is causing facial pain and swelling, a sign of serious infection spread from the involved tooth to the surrounding soft tissues. Most likely, that tooth needs to be removed to drain the infection or needs a root canal.

Extractions, root canals and even routine fillings are painful, expensive and time consuming. But preventive care for your teeth will help you avoid these “dental disasters.”

Even if your teeth need some “work” or are in perfect shape, it’s never too late to start preventive dental care. You can prevent progression of existing problems and also help prevent the serious diseases listed above.

Brushing your teeth after meals is a great start, in addition to regular morning and evening brushing. There are inexpensive battery operated toothbrushes available and all kinds of toothpastes that make this job easy and fun. Flossing daily is also key to removing food particles, plaque and bacteria that brushing misses.

Chewing sugar-free xylitol gum or candy after eating has been shown to reduce dental caries and even reverse caries that have already started. Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that has terrific anti-bacterial properties. While it doesn’t replace brushing and flossing, it is very useful for times when you can’t brush.

Rinsing your mouth with a few drops of tea tree oil in water is also a great way to lower bacterial count and ease inflamed gums. Your mouth will feel clean and refreshed after this rinse.

Regular dental visits are extremely important. Your dentist can perform a full exam of your teeth and look for problems before they become serious. Your dental hygienist can clean your teeth, check your gums and do X-rays if needed. Seeing your dentist twice per year is recommended for most people.

For some people, the expense of seeing the dentist even for routine care is a limiting factor. Most types of dental insurance cover all or part of routine visits. If you don’t have dental insurance, one thing you can do is check with your local community college’s dental hygienist program.

These programs offer either free or low cost screenings, cleanings and X-rays. The students are supervised by a licensed hygienist and a dentist. Another option is a county or state-subsidized dental clinic, where you can pay on a sliding scale.

So, visit your dentist regularly and brush and floss daily to help your teeth and your whole body stay healthy and prevent all kinds of diseases!

[Ed. Note: Lisa Forgione, MD, is an Emergency Medicine Physician practicing in Wadesboro, North Carolina. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Forgione participated in the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and has received several Physicians Recognition Awards for teaching from the AMA and AAFP.]

muscle achesCutting Edge Fitness:

By David Scott Lynn

If you’ve been concerned about your blood pressure, here’s an angle you’ve probably not heard much about. That’s the affect of isometric exercise on your blood pressure.

The definition of an isometric exercise is that a muscle contracts, but does not change length. For many of us, as we age, our muscles engage in increasing amounts of low-level isometric exercise, all the time, even when asleep!

Here’s how it works …

Left unattended, your neuromuscular system, over the years, automatically accumulates increasing amounts of chronic muscle tension. For example, if muscles on one side of your neck tighten from holding a phone on your shoulder all day, then the opposite side must contract to stabilize the bones and joints, especially countering the force of gravity.

So various muscle groups are constantly pulling against each other in a tug-of-war. If done on a frequent basis, this becomes chronic. But since they are usually approximately matched in strength, neither muscle wins the combat, and they stay about the same relative lengths, but tighter overall.

Any extended or repetitive action will do this including work-related manual tasks or sitting slouched on a couch or chair with your muscles out of balance. Your muscles are stabilizing or fighting each other all day and all night long, not to mention compressing their respective joints in the process. (This long-term, chronic isometric contraction is quite different in effect than lower-intensity, rhythmic, short-duration isometric contractions that actually LOWER blood pressure.)

You might now see that many muscle pairs in your body are in some level of isometric combat with each other.


In his excellent book Somatics,1 Thomas Hanna discusses research2 showing that isometric exercise (even covert low-level isometrics) quite markedly increases blood pressure3 and potentially leads to congestive heart failure, especially in the elderly.2

So what do you do about this?

For many of us, all we need do is incorporate basic Muscle Tension Reduction Strategies in our daily lives. This can be as simple as sitting or lying with your attention on your breathing, with your breaths slower, more deliberate, and longer in duration than usual. (Don’t worry about or force the depth of breath; that usually happens naturally, by itself, over time.)

To enhance this process, after a few minutes, begin focusing on different parts of your body for a few minutes each. See if you can feel as if that body part is sinking into the floor or melting if you are sitting while keeping some attention on your slower breathing.

Don’t try to mentally force your muscles to relax, but to sink your awareness into those muscles, seeing if you can more deeply feel the tensions, which spontaneously relaxes them. While 20 minutes twice a day would be great, even one minute several times a day can work wonders.

If you REALLY want to get your Tension Reduction Strategy working, start doing basic Conscious Stretching, but VERY gently with small movements of stretch.

Yes, some people have such deeply held and trauma-based tensions that they need more aggressive intervention, but most of us will be surprised at how much result we’ll get with this simple approach.


[Ed. Note: David Scott Lynn is the developer of DSL EdgeWork: Yoga/Bodywork/Whole Health Therapeutics, and has been in practice for 30 years. Learn more by clicking here .]

: white fish Healthy Recipes:

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

This firm, flaky white fish lives in deep ocean waters and is a perennial favorite of fish lovers due to its light delicate flavor. The sweet taste of red bell pepper makes for a delectable pairing.

Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Healing Nutrient Spotlight
Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, selenium
Good source of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, copper

1 T. olive oil
2 orange roughy fillets
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt and 1/8 tsp pepper OR
1/2 tsp. or so of a garlic pepper seasoning blend

*Choose organic ingredients for optimal nutrition.

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add bell peppers and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Place fillets over peppers and sprinkle with seasonings and lemon juice. Lower heat to medium low and cover skillet. Cook about 8 minutes or until fish is flaky. Makes 2 larger servings or 4 small servings.

Nutrition analysis based on 2 servings:
196 calories, 26 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 2 g sugars, 1 g fiber, 3512 IU vitamin A, .2 mg thiamin, .3 mg riboflavin, 5.4 mg niacin, 1 mg pantothenic acid, .7 mg vitamin B-6, 26 mcg folate, 3.4 mcg vitamin B-12, 117 mg vitamin C, 57 mg calcium, .3 mg copper, 57 mg magnesium, 625 mg potassium,62 mcg selenium, 390 mg sodium, 1.4 mg zinc

[Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute. Laura and her husband, Jim LaValle, R.Ph, CCN, ND have developed the powerful and life-changing Metabolic Code Dietcontaining step-by-step, easy to follow recommendations for harnessing optimal metabolic energy and turning your body's chemical make up into a fat-burning furnace. To learn more click here now .]

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