Scientific studies are now revealing the full extent of damage a person can inadvertently cause to their tooth enamel by consuming highly acidic beverages. With a reported 30- 50 percent of U.S. teenagers consuming popularized energy drinks on a daily basis, it is important that parents and young adults as well as fitness enthusiasts, understand the disadvantages these drinks can pose to oral health.
A recent study cited in General Dentistry; the Academy of General Dentistry’s clinical, peer-reviewed journal has revealed that fitness-minded adults and adolescents who routinely consume sports and energy drinks have an alarming increase in irreversible damage to teeth, damage that specifically targets the tooth enamel; the thin, outer layer of the tooth that helps preserve the tooth’s structure and prevent decay. Damage caused to sensitive tooth enamel is almost always irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become highly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more prone to decay.
THE TRUE COST OF CONSUMING SPORTS DRINKS
People who pursue active lifestyles ironically may avoid colas or sugary drinks in favor of what they believe to be a ‘healthier’ alternative and so they tend to rely on sports or energy drinks to rehydrate after exercising. But, with the results of recent studies pointing to the fact that regular long-term use of such highly acidic beverages can lead to irreversible damage to dental enamel, athletic types are best advised to take precautions to protect their teeth by either choosing an alternative or adopting a habit of rinsing after consuming acidic drinks.
To determine the true acidic properties researchers examined the levels of acid in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks. To test the effect of the acidity levels, samples of human tooth enamel were immersed in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours. The test was repeated over five days, four times each day. The goal of the test was to simulate the same type of exposure teeth are subject to by someone who drinks an average of one beverage every few hours. The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days, and energy drinks in particular showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks – in fact, up to twice as much damage.
From this test and others of a similar type we can now conclude that enamel damage associated with all beverages ranging from greatest (1) to least (6) damage to dental enamel are as follows:
- energy drinks
- sports drinks
- fitness water
- iced tea
Most cola-based drinks contain more than one type of acid, generally phosphoric and citric acids, both of which contribute to enamel damage. Sports beverages contain a range of other additives and organic acids that further exacerbate dental erosion. Organic acids also erode dental enamel as they break down calcium, which is needed to strengthen teeth and prevent gum disease.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE
The best way to avoid damaging your dental enamel is to exercise caution when using sports drinks and similar beverages on a routine basis. Alternating sports drinks with water or low-fat milk after a workout can help to preserve tooth enamel and ultimately protect teeth from decay, but the best alternative is to minimize the intake of sports and energy drinks altogether. If you must drink acidic beverages it is advisable to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks as a way to increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to normalize acidity levels in the mouth. To avoid spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces thereby increasing the erosive action, it is a good idea to wait at least an hour before brushing after consuming sports and energy drinks.
A new movie available for download and viewing online called ‘Mercury Undercover’ is exposing the abhorrent practices going on at the national level that prevent mainstream Americans from learning the truth about poison contamination from dental amalgam. Mercury Undercover illustrates all the evidence about mercury contamination, and features interviews by doctors, renowned scientists, environmental experts and survivors of mercury poisoning.
The disturbing issues brought to light in this film are geared to alarm viewers just enough to cause them to pause before buying and consuming fish products and to take into consideration the potential ramifications of their next dental procedure.
A few points brought up by this movie include:
- The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggested thirteen years ago that dental amalgams could account for up to 75 percent of a person’s daily mercury exposure. There is approximately 1,000 mg of mercury in the typical silver amalgam filling, nearly one million times more mercury than is present in contaminated sea food.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that between 3-17 micrograms of mercury are released daily into the body by stimulating the filling through chewing, brushing and grinding, compared to only 2-5 micrograms from fish and all other environmental sources combined. An editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine also stated that dental amalgams were “possibly the chief source of exposure [to mercury] of a large segment of the U.S. population”. As shocking as it is, Americans and Europeans actually have more mercury in their mouths than exists in all manmade products combined – estimated at more than 1,000 tons. More than 180 million Americans of all ages host a total of 1.46 billion restored teeth, and the vast majority of those restorations are silver amalgams containing mercury. This measures out to about 75 percent of adults being exposed daily through silver amalgam fillings.
- The 2nd largest mercury polluters in the U.S. are dental practices. As a result of their continued use of mercury amalgam fillings, another 29.7 tons of mercury is discharged into the air, water and soil each year from installation and removal of amalgams. Mercury coming from dental offices is reported to be the largest source of mercury found in wastewater today. According to an article authored by Michael Bender (co-founder of the Mercury Policy Project), at least 40 percent of mercury streaming into public water treatment plants starts out in the dental office. And wastewater treatment plants are not set up to remove mercury, so it ends up in waterways and oceans where it contaminates marine life before cycling back into the food chain and ending up on your dinner plate. Ultimately, when you consider the costs associated with environmental cleanup dental amalgams are actually the most costly type of dental fillings on the market – in terms of environmental damage and harm to living organisms, including humans.
And a point of our own:
- Amalgams found in cadavers also post a risk to the environment. Emissions from the combustion of mercury fillings during the cremation process act as a major contaminator of air, waterways, soil, wildlife and food.
No less than 7-9 metric tons of mercury seeps into the atmosphere annually during the cremation process. As a result, it is expected that by the year 2020 the cremation of human remains will be the largest single cause of mercury pollution. And, it all started in the dental office.
MERCURY AMALGAMS ARE NOT AS CHEAP AS DENTISTS WOULD LIKE YOU TO THINK
Amalgam fillings contain more mercury than any other product sold in America. And they are highly profitable to a dentist, which explains why it is so difficult to get them to use healthier composite products. Dentists can install amalgam fillings much faster than many composite fillings, and once installed they keep the patient coming back for repairs (due to the damaging effects of metal fillings on the structure of the tooth).
The average “amalgam” filling is typically a mixture of silver, copper, tin and zinc with an equal amount of mercury (up to 50 percent mercury). Fillings naturally deteriorate over time, leaching the various metal components into the body in the process and they react to substances such as acid in the mouth, causing the filling to deteriorate even more rapidly. The deteriorating vapor then enters the body and is subsequently inhaled into the lungs where it is absorbed into the blood stream. Likewise, as we eat, mercury is incorporated into food, is then swallowed and digested and absorbed into the bloodstream where it is distributed to more vulnerable tissues and organs. Mercury vapors readily pass through cell membranes, across the blood-brain barrier and into the central nervous system, where it causes psychological, neurological, and immunological problems. Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk, but virtually anyone exposed to mercury in this way is at risk.
Aspiring dentists continue to be taught that the mercury in amalgams is “bound” with the other metals and therefore doesn’t leak, which is why 50 percent of them continue to believe mercury amalgam use is safe. However, by the fact that mercury vapor can be measured at all as it seeps away from the tip of the root is absolute proof that amalgam fillings can and do leach mercury poisons into the body.
STRIVING FOR CHANGE
The Mercury Undercover website suggests specific goals and objectives that need to be addressed to stop silver mercury amalgam use in America:
- Disclose mercury and end the “silver deception”; stop the ADA/dental board gag rule Inform consumers and dentists of the massive environmental harm caused by amalgam Make dentists (preferably those who perpetuate the use of mercury laced amalgams) pay for the massive harm to the environment; this would make the amalgam cost-prohibitive
- Ban amalgam for children and pregnant women Introduce ART (Atraumatic restorative treatment), a safe, low-cost dental filling material that requires only hand instruments to install, and can even be done by a dental hygienist
- End amalgam primacy in insurance plans
All of these points are excellent suggestions and honorable objectives. If you would like to help, The Consumers for Dental Choice has launched a worldwide Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry which outlines specific actions you can take on local, state, and national levels. Just visit their website to get started. They also suggest:
- If you are not already seeing a mercury-free dentist, ask your dentist to switch to mercury-free dentistry.
- If you work for a company that covers dental fillings, ask if they will cover composites or ART or other alternatives to amalgam.
- If you know your Mayor or a member of your City or Town Council, consider asking if they will do what some California cities are doing: pass a resolution calling for an end to amalgam and a request that dentists in your town stop using amalgam.
- And, write the Director of FDA’s Center for Devices, Jeff Shuren, firstname.lastname@example.org Ask Dr Shuren why FDA continues to ignore the scientists and covers up the mercury from American parents and consumers. Ask when FDA is going to get in step with the world on mercury.
Dr. Jeff Shuren, Director
Center for Devices, U.S. Food & Drug Admin.
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
WO66-5431, Room 5442
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Brushing our teeth is an exercise in self-care that most of us do at least twice a day but there is also something we seldom consider; the health of that toothbrush. It might shock you to realize that literally millions of microorganisms (bacteria) live on the bristles of your personal toothbrush. That comes down to millions of microscopic bugs that can potentially cause flu, colds and other illnesses.
Recent studies have confirmed that oral health is connected with overall healthfulness. For example, there is a strong correlation between heart disease, diabetes, premature delivery in pregnant women, and strokes; and gum disease. Researchers discovered there are upwards of 10 million bacteria live on the typical toothbrush and we know that tooth decay is also caused by the type of bacteria that can survive on toothbrushes.
Studies have proven that cold and flu viruses and even the viruses that cause fever blisters (Herpes Simplex I) can survive on toothbrushes for several days – infecting and re-infecting the unsuspecting owner of that toothbrush. Here are just a few viruses that thrive on toothbrushes and some of the problems they can cause:
- E. Coli: bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal pain and tenderness with no fever
- Influenza Virus: fever, cough, headache and fatigue, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea
- Staphylococci Bacteria: abscesses, boils, and skin infections
- Herpes Simplex I: can affect the mouth, face and skin and can be present in the body without symptoms, generally causes recurring and painful blisters (cold sores or fever blisters)
- Candida Albicans: mild nasal congestion, blisters in the mouth, sore throat or abdominal pain, and/or fatigue, dizziness and mood swings
- Coliform Bacteria: usually present along other disease-causing bacteria and organisms
Some researchers also discovered bio-film thriving on toothbrushes, which is living colonies of breeding bacteria, with estimated numbers as high as 100 million microorganisms existing on individual brushes.
PROTECTING YOUR TOOTHBRUSH
Surprisingly, it isn’t the bacteria from your mouth that contributes to the worst bacterial problems on a toothbrush, it’s the fact that most people store their toothbrush unprotected in the open, on
the bathroom counter top. By far, flushing the toilet is the worst culprit for germs found on most toothbrushes. Every time you flush the toilet invisible jets of water propels germs into the air, where they can land on toothbrushes.
Family toothbrushes stored side-by-side only compound the risk of sharing germs and viruses. Bacteria, molds, and fungi love moist environments provided by most bathrooms and they also love dark enclosed spaces, so storing toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet may not be as ideal as you might think.
While most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every couple of months, most American’s aren’t likely to change their toothbrushes more than twice a year. Here are some steps you can take to keep your toothbrush germ free:
Storage: Store toothbrushes away from the toilet in a cool, dry place.
Rinse well: Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
Dry it after use: Dry your toothbrush thoroughly between brushings and avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
Store it upright. Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
Keep it to yourself: Never share a toothbrush and avoid storing it side-by-side in the same container with other people’s brushes.
Ultraviolet Light: Studies indicate that ultraviolet light can be effective in killing germs on toothbrushes and are able to kill many of the bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. A study conducted at New York University Medical Center on countertop ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizers found that this device eliminated up to 99.9 percent of bacteria tested on toothbrushes.
Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse: Cheaper than an ultraviolet device and a measure perhaps just as effective could be the practice of rinsing your toothbrush after each use with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is antibacterial, antifungal, kills mold and mildew and when used properly, it is non-toxic for humans, plants, household animals.
Best practice: keep it clean and keep on brushing
Now that you know how to keep your toothbrush truly clean and germ free as a way to protect yourself and your family from harmful bacteria, it is also important to choose a brush that will do the work of keeping your teeth clean without harming the delicate surface of the tooth or gums. Choose a brush with soft or medium bristles, as they are gentler on the gums and may actually clean better because they’re more flexible. Brush twice a day, at least two minutes each time and rinse your mouth after sugary or starchy snacks. Replace your toothbrush frequently. These practices combined with visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings will help to ensure that you have a lifelong healthy smile.
There is good news for folks who remain loyal to the recommended annual visit to the dental hygienist; A recent study from Taiwan suggests that people who routinely get their teeth cleaned (undergo professional tooth scaling) have as much as 24 percent lower risk of heart attacks and 13 percent lower risk of stroke, than those who never actually visit the hygienist. Researchers have also concluded from a similar Swedish study that harmful oral flora is an excellent predictor of heart attack and stroke.
The effects of oral health on overall healthfulness have been the subject of scientific studies for quite some time, and this new research provides added proof that patients who receive regular dental care and follow recommended oral hygiene regimens can successfully reduce their risk of both heart attack and stroke.
The study from Taiwan followed 100,000 participants over a 7-year period, most of whom submitted to professional teeth cleaning at least twice or more in two years; and at least once or less in two years. About half of the adults underwent full or partial tooth scaling while the other half matched with gender and health conditions from the test group but had no tooth scaling.
Although researchers did not adjust for potential heart attack and stroke risk factors prior to the study none of the participants reported a history of heart attack or stroke.
Emily (Zu-Yin) Chen, M.D., cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan concluded from the study that protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who received tooth scaling at least once a year. In other words, clinical oral health care—tooth scaling—reduces bacterial growth that can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions.
In a separate study coming from Sweden, researchers discovered that the value of markers for gum disease predict heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke in different ways and in slightly different degrees. Anders Holmlund, D.D.S., Ph.D. Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, Sweden, and senior consultant; Specialized Dentistry, studied 7,999 participants with periodontal disease and found people with:
- Fewer than 21 teeth had a 69 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the most teeth.
- A higher number of deepened periodontal pockets (infection of the gum around the base of the tooth) had a 53 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the fewest pockets.
- The least amount of teeth had a 2.5 increased risk of congestive heart failure compared to those with the most teeth.
- The highest incidence of gum bleeding had a 2.1 increased risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest incidence.
These studies highlight the importance of educating patients about oral health to stress the potential impact periodontal disease can have on overall healthfulness. Unfortunately many adults develop some type of periodontal disease due to a lack of daily brushing and flossing, and all too infrequent visits to the dental hygienist. Routine teeth cleaning will help avoid periodontal disease, and ultimately can help to prevent heart attack and stokes.
The biggest culprit in tooth decay today is sugars found in processed foods, candy, soft drinks, sweetened juices, and others foodstuff. Fructose, lactose, and glucose are all sugars that cause a rapid production of acid and the resulting destruction of teeth enamel, leading to tooth decay. The carbohydrates in sugars cause bacteria to grow rapidly, breaking down the body’s natural ability to resist attack. Research is indicating that even if you brush all of the offending sugars away from your teeth, just the simple act of eating these kinds of foods can increase the likelihood that your teeth will decay.
Cavities are formed when bacteria feed upon food particles that cling to the teeth or become stuck in crevices or grooves on the surface of teeth. In particular, the bacteria that are responsible for cavities love carbohydrates. As they feed, the bacteria secrete acid that compromises the integrity of the enamel which normally helps to protect teeth. The rate of secretion depends upon the type of carbohydrate that the bacteria are feeding upon – in other words, some sugars are worse than others.
To compound the problem, research conducted on lab rats at Loma Linda University has indicated that there is a definite relationship between what kind of food we eat and our ability to maintain good oral health, regardless of how well we brush and floss. In that study Dr. Ralph Steinman injected rats with a glucose solution so that the sugars introduced into the system would avoid contact with the teeth entirely. He found that glucose levels reversed the normal flow of fluid in the dentin tubules, resulting in all of the test animals developing severe tooth decay. Although animal studies may not be entirely applicable to the human situation, the results clearly point to a need to take a closer look at how nutrition can impact oral health.
THE BIGGER PICTURE ON CAVITY PREVENTION
Good oral health is not just about limiting sugar as a way to avoid cavities. It’s also about learning how key nutrients such as minerals, antioxidants and vitamins can support strong teeth, healthy gums and bone. One supplement that is showing good results at reducing the risk of cavities is vitamin D. Vitamin D induces the production of naturally occurring enzymes called cathelicidin and defensins in the mouth, enzymes that support available antibacterial properties in the saliva. Together these emzymes create a powerful antimicrobial peptide or protein which attacks oral bacteria known to cause cavities and tooth decay.
To take it to the next level, vitamin D taken in combination with a calcium supplement is proving to be a powerful blend of supplements that can prevent cavities. Not only is vitamin D naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, but it comes with no side effects (unlike fluoride) – particularly when activated naturally though exposures to sunlight and/or as long as proper dosages are followed when using supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include: shiitake and button mushrooms, mackerel and salmon, herring, tuna, catfish and eggs – among others – while green leafy vegetables are a good source for calcium – and calcium we already know it is necessary for bone health.
RESTORING HEALTH TO TEETH & GUMS
It is possible to change the course of tooth decay and increase oral healthfulness by maintaining good oral hygiene, adopting a routine of good nutrition and taking supplements aimed at increasing the health of teeth and gums. With just a little effort, it is also possible to strengthen and restore the teeth to perfect health.
People tend to think that teeth are something other than living organs – which is what they actually are. Having an understanding that teeth are alive gives us a chance to rethink how we treat our teeth, and points to the role nutrition can have on teeth and gums. Teeth are nourished both through the bloodstream as it flows into the root to the tooth’s pulp chamber and from saliva and food as it passes through the mouth. Therefore, it is vitally important to nourish the whole body in a manner that allows the blood to be rich in all elements the teeth require to maintain optimal healthfulness.
A healthy diet and body helps to ensure that the saliva will be high in calcium and phosphate. Through this process the daily deterioration caused by chewing and eating acidic foods, commonly called ‘demineralisation’ will be reduced by constant remineralization via healthy saliva balanced in the proper pH range and naturally filled with the necessary and important minerals. In other words, in addition to healthy supply of minerals provided by the bloodstream to the pulp of the tooth — inside the mouth the quality of saliva is of crucial importance in the prevention of tooth cavities since it is this medium which bathes and carries nutrition to teeth.
YOUR HEALTHY MOUTH
Recommended for healthy teeth: Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables (for vitamins A and C), filtered water and tea
Not recommended for healthy teeth: sticky foods that lodge between the teeth, snacking between meals, sweet drinks and snacks, acidic drinks
Natural dentistry has long believed that by maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and using vitamin supplements a person can prevent, if not cure, tooth and gum disease. The best way to ensure that your teeth will be healthy for your whole life is to adopt a healthy eating plan, take supplements if you need to, and most importantly continue to practice good oral care and hygiene, which should include having your teeth professionally cleaned and seeing your dentist regularly.
AS NATURAL DENTISTS, OUR GOAL IS TO TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON THROUGH THE USE OF SAFE, NATURAL AND PAIN FREE METHODS.
Our innovative approach to dental care focuses on the health and wellness of the mouth in relation to the whole body, including identifying and treating issues pertaining to allergies and autoimmune disorders. In addition to providing allergy testing, we are able to recommend a variety of natural and herbal products that can help support the immune system – helping to bring our patients to a greater state of overall wellness. Knowing what can cause an allergic reaction in our patients sets us apart from practices used in traditional dentistry.
Dealing with itchy, swollen eyes combined with a persistent runny nose is something we commonly associate with a case of seasonal allergies, but for many people these symptoms and more also follow each time they visit the dentist. Allergic reactions in the dental office can be caused by normally innocuous materials or medications.
Allergic reactions to materials may include:
• Itchy, swollen eyes
• Runny nose
Masks, gloves and syringes in the dental office are typically made of latex; a natural rubber harvested from trees. For some people, prolonged exposure to latex dust from powered gloves is enough to trigger an allergic reaction. In addition, a small number of patients may also experience allergic reactions to local anesthetics used to numb the mouth and gums during dental procedure, but the materials used for fillings and repairs can be of even greater concern for patients with immune disorders or allergy issues.
SENSITIVE PATIENTS REQUIRE MORE CARE
Latex and local anesthetics are not the only materials that can stir up an allergic reaction, reactions can occur from many other chemicals and materials found in some dental materials or medications. Reactions to various metals or amalgams used in traditional dentistry can start out as an allergic reaction, which over time can create serious toxic effects on the body. Today we are finding an increasing amount of individuals that are allergic to and occasionally rejecting titanium dental implants, as well as being sensitive to the crowns that are placed over the implants. In addition to metals used in fillings and bridges, it is important to be aware that all dentists use a wide assortment of cements, anesthetics, bonding materials, temporary appliances, denture materials and more – and every one of these substances can potentially cause a negative reaction once placed in the sensitive environment of the mouth.
Fortunately for our patients, holistic dentists are constantly alert to the potential for compatibility issues with the materials used in our practices. We work hard to make sure that our patients are able to tolerate any substance introduced into the mouth.
PREVENTING ALLERGIES BEFORE THEY START
Where allergies to latex and some medications present a fairly temporary exposure, allergies from devices or materials set permanently into the mouth present a larger issue for sensitive patients. There simply is not any one combination of materials that are compatible for every person since every patient presents their own unique physiology. However, there are some materials that are recognized as better tolerated by more people than other materials. For example with regards to dental implants instead of titanium, we are providing ceramic dental implants which are made of zirconia. People with weakened immune systems have a particularly difficult time finding substances that can be tolerated, but fortunately there are ways to test everyone for compatibility.
The most common types of tests used by holistic dental offices include:
• Clifford Materials Blood Test
• Electro-dermal Screening (EAV)
• Applied Kinesiology
A blood test will offer results that are based on true allergens. Specifically the Clifford Materials Test is a blood test that will determine if a blood serum sample will react to known dental materials. Although this test can provide valuable information about existing allergies, results may not be as comprehensive when it comes to testing for materials the patient has not yet been exposed to.
Applied kinesiology is based upon the activity of muscles and the relationship of muscle strength to health. This test is based on bio-feedback and will give strictly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Using applied kinesiology we are able to test both commonly used items and items that a person has never been exposed to, and by using the body’s biofeedback abilities, identify those items that weaken the individual.
Electro-dermal screening is performed by using a machine that tests dental materials according to their compatibility with the patient’s acupuncture meridian system. This test will allow us to determine more than just what materials are compatible, but which materials appear to be optimal for a particular patient. As with muscle testing, we can determine reactions to substances and elements the patient has never previously been exposed to.
NATURAL DENTISTRY WORKS TO KEEP YOU SAFE
Unfortunately many people don’t realize that the substances and materials mainstream dentists use, but do not test for compatibility, may be causing some serious health issues in their patients. Many long-term problems can start out as something as innocuous as an allergic reaction at the time of placement. To compound the problem, there is much evidence pointing to a correlation between allergies and autoimmune disorders. In other words, if the source of the allergy is not pinpointed and avoided, then potentially the resulting reaction could manifest itself as an autoimmune disorder.
While allergies to latex and anesthesia might commonly prevent allergy prone patients from visiting the dentist, holistic dentists are unique in that we have the ability to prevent issues before they start. Once evaluated for compatibility patients are much more likely to have good results, and so much less likely to experience an allergic reasons. Patients can also do their part by completing the medical history form in detail, outlining known allergies and past reactions to specific materials and drugs. Together we will make sure your dental experience is safe, healthy and as pain-free as possible.