HELLO my fabulous readers. I have so many dental “tidbits” that I thought I would share these nuggets of new information (and a little review) with you. Sometimes you just need news you can use right away. Period. Skip the lengthy wordsy stuff and get to the meat of the matter. I did my best to do that for you. A few entries got away from me. Hope you enjoy my tidbits to wrap up 2021 and head forward to a healthy 2022.
1. An avocado a day will change your life. The good fats in the avocado add fiber, fat and vitamins and reduce your sugar cravings. Actually, it may be the best health food ever! Good for bones, brains, hearts, eyes, and guts to name but a very few benefits. Nutrient rich and full of so much goodness. Add one a day to your breakfast and see what little miracles occur!
2. Use an electric toothbrush every 12 hours. Use the best toothbrush you can afford. Your toothbrush should be as fancy as your phone, and it will last longer. Get a new brush head every three months; change the entire family’s brush heads with the seasons. Power tools just work better, really. And, brush for at least two minutes. If your teeth don’t “feel” clean then please brush until they feel and taste clean.
One of my favorite electric brushes is the Kyoui ( pronounced “Q-ee”) It is different but so effective. I partnered with them because I love their product! Use my code to save 10% on any order: BARBARATRITZsave10%
Kyoui now also has a very soft straight toothbrush head as well. Perfect for sensitive teeth. LOVE their new addition.
And, the KYOUI electric brush does not give off any Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation unlike some electric brushes. So many things to be aware of – I had not paid any attention to this but realize now it is important to our well being and reducing exposure to EMF’s is one more piece of the health puzzle.
3. Use a water flosser twice daily. The real home of gum disease bacteria is down underneath the gumline- where the bugs live. It is moist, dark, acidic, and devoid of oxygen. Perfection if you are a bug. Bacteria, fungus, and viruses thrive in this environment. Introducing medicated water into this biofilm raises the pH, changes the bacterial composition of the biofilm, and reduces the anaerobic levels. Simple, and very effective way to reduce gingivitis. Getting where the bad bacteria live and changing the microbiome is a game changer. Depending on what bugs live there dictates what medicament I recommend patients add to their water flossers.
4. Healthy gums DO NOT bleed. Teeth should not crumble. See an integrative medicine physician for blood work if you have tooth decay or bleeding gums (which may indicate gum disease) – look at gut health, vitamin and mineral levels. DIG DEEP. Tooth decay and gum disease are signs of gut health issues, absorption issues, and autoimmune issues. Is your body getting enough fat soluble vitamins, is it absorbing these vitamins and nutrients? Find the “why” so you can address the “how” best to treat. Just removing the tartar or decay will not stop the infection from reoccurring. You can’t fix the problem by only addressing the symptoms. Find the cause. That will guide your treatment protocols. Skip the pick/poke/polish/repeat treatment and cure the infection once and for all.
5. Salivary diagnostics – know the enemy – find out why you have bleeding gums and tooth decay. Here’s the key to periodontal disease: we always have bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our mouths. Ninety-nine percent of the microbiome are good or neutral bugs. The 1% that are “bad “are kept in check by the good guys. Our mouths will never be sterile nor should they.
Hang with me here: A “something” that we ingest inflames the gut lining, which causes havoc with our immune system, which then allows the bad bugs to takeover. Periodontal (gum) disease is about a mutiny of the bugs because our immune system has allowed them to overgrow because the immune system is mostly driven by the gut.
I want salivary diagnostics because I want to see how crazy the take-over is, and have a baseline for where we need to start. Salivary diagnostics then gives us a road map of how we need to treat the mouth help get it healthy.
Tooth decay cause is a little different- but just as important to know the enemy. Again, find the “why” before just jumping in and flailing around, hoping you solved the problem when all you really did is make a big hole and patch it. I want to know what’s going on with the immune system that has allowed this breakdown of the teeth, gums, and bones. Healthy, strong teeth require a diamond bur to cut into them. Teeth with decay almost feels like fruit leather. When the teeth and bones are melting then something’s way off within the body. Which brings us back to #4. See that functional medicine, integrative medicine or primary care doctor to help be part of your healing team. Dentistry cannot work in a vacuum. We need to embrace the body as a whole and look deeper for the root causes of disease. Test, teach, treat, repeat: a better philosophy,
6. There is good plaque. Healthy plaque remineralizes the tooth surface, stops decay, and tooth sensitivity, and keeps the tooth healthy. Good plaque biofilm is achieved when we have the mouth at a neutral pH, and feed the good bacteria with food that has prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are non-human-digestible foods that feed the friendlies, growing the good guys. (I had never even heard of Prebiotics until recently!) Probiotics are actual good bacteria that repopulate the oral cavity. Looking at the microbiome as our friend, which it is, we can instead care for it and nurture it to grow a good garden of bugs that can care for our teeth and gums, andultinately protect us.
Nutrition plays a critical role in our oral wellness. There’s that avocado again, along with apples: great fiber and so healthy for you. Skip the processed boxed stuff. Eat food that looks like nature intended. Think one-ingredient food. We must be aware of what food goes into the mouth and gut. Put our money where our mouth is.
Every time we eat or drink we are either feeding disease or fighting it.
Heather Morgan MS
6. Clean your tongue twice daily. Use a metal tongue cleaner, and incorporate tongue health into your routine. The tongue is like a shag carpet and traps everything, good and bad. Plaque bacteria builds up and covers your taste buds. That biofilm creates a stinky, smelly tongue and no amount of mouthwash will cover that up. Those bacteria settle into that shag carpet and thrive in that oxygenless environment, and they get smelly as they decompose. And, then the bugs can re-infect your mouth and hitch a ride in your blood stream to other body parts and infect them as well. This is called a bacteremia.
Bonus: A clean tongue helps food and wine taste so much better! Make your taste buds pop in flavor. Thank me later… 😉
7. Proper tongue rest posture matters. The tongue must rest on the palate. Lips together, teeth apart. This is “proper tongue rest posture”. Your body, your muscles and your joints need this position. 24/7/365! Even when you are exercising, and especially when you are sleeping. The Mighty Tongue article I wrote explains it in much more depth.
One of our current problems: face masks. Everyone is mouth breathing under the mask. I spoke with a medical technician and she told me her jaw hurts by the end of her work day. She was mouth breathing underneath the mask and straining her jaw joint muscles, causing her TMJ pain.
Lips together, teeth apart and tongue suctioned up to the roof of the mouth. You can do this. If not, seek an orofacial myofunctional therapist and get assessed. Find that “why” and address it. Proper tongue rest posture helps in growing a nice, big, smiley set of healthy, straight teeth and who doesn’t want that?
8. Clean your nose daily – nasal hygiene is as important as oral hygiene. Your nose warms, filters, and purifies the air you breathe. Mouth breathing does none of that. Mouth breathing allows all the toxins in the air to penetrate right to your lungs and make you sick. Clean your nose, and then use your nose for breathing. Which leads us right to:
9. Nasal Breathing Breathe through your nose all the time- you will be healthier, have less colds and have a better level of oxygen in your body. Again: nasal breathing warms the air, filters the air and purifies the air entering your lungs. Your sinuses make something called nitric oxide which is how we kill the bad stuff coming into our noses. We NEED nitric oxide (NO) to be healthy. Much more on NO below at #15.
As I tell my children patients: the nose is made for breathing and the mouth is made for eating. Don’t confuse the two. They laugh but they understand. Why is this not common practice!?!
Use your nose. If you cannot breathe through your nose address the underlying issues in the sinuses. Obstruction? Allergies? Inflammation? See an allergist or ENT and a breathing specialist and find answers. Read the book Breath by James Nestor. (Hint: great Christmas present for yourself or someone you love.)
11 Fluoride does not work like we have been lead to believe. My blog post goes into much more detail. Fluoride in the water does not make the tooth structure stronger from the inside. This is fallacy and the dental association and the dental hygiene association spread this myth. I wish fluoride worked as they claim, but we have plenty of fluoride everywhere yet decay is at epidemic levels. They are bought by the manufacturing companies that sell fluoride products. Tooth decay is not due to a lack of fluoride, it is due to leaky gut and sugar. See #19 all about how sugar affects teeth, and it is not what you were taught.
12. Dental insurance does not care about your oral health and wellness. They are in business to make money. I get that. If you only rely on what your dental insurance “covers,” you will never get and stay healthy. Invest in your mouth health. Just because insurance does not pay for it does not mean it is not necessary. They did not go to dental hygiene or dental school. Decide whom you place your trust in and follow their advice. Pay for it now or pay more later. Find answers and fix the problem.
13. The best time to get your teeth “cleaned” is while they are healthy. Stay healthy between appointments. That’s the goal. Six month recare appointments came about because of a Pepsident toothpaste advertising jingle from Madison Avenue, not from solid research saying that was what it takes to keep your mouth healthy. Whom do you believe? Your TV or your dental professional? I see many of my patients on a three or four mouth recare. They have to earn that six month recommendation from me. Some folks even go longer BECAUSE they are healthy!
14. Floss is not for everyone. Yes, you did read that right. And, if done incorrectly may actually do more damage to the gums by causing floss cuts into the papilla (the pointy tissue between the teeth). As I tell my patienst: flossing is technique sensitive. If you are a dedicated flosser, ask your fabulous dental hygienist to review flossing and show you how to properly curl that floss underneath the gumline and hug the tooth. Flossing is really about plaque biofilm removal, not food removal. Learning how to safely floss your teeth is critical.
I peruse the dental supply sections of stores, the internet and dental conventions for the newest, latest, greatest and easiest to use tools and products. I purchase them and test them out on myself first. If I can use them easily and effectively then I can safely recommend them to patients. It’s gotta pass my muster first.
For those that hate flossing (you are not alone, and I get it… It is a very difficult skill to do properly) Look here to find better tools to clean-in between the teeth like piksters, softpicks, and the waterflosser. Ask your incredibly dedicated DH for tips and suggestions.
15. Mouthwash is not your friend– Really, throw out your mouthwash. If it says “antibacterial” that means it kills all the bacteria, good and bad. You need the good bacteria. Regular use of antibacterial mouthwash raises your blood pressure. NOT good!
We need to grow and nourish your healthy good bacteria. Magic happens on the back of your tongue when these good bugs combine with nitrates from your saliva (from foods you eat like leafy greens and beets). Through a complicated chemical reaction we make nitric oxide in our body. Dry mouth sufferers, mouth breathers, and those with periodontal disease are at a severe disadvantage because they are not creating enough saliva and/or do not have enough good healthy bacteria to make NO. So, even taking nitric oxide supplements won’t work because the building blocks (the good bugs) are not in place. Bacteria are our friends!
Nitric oxide is so very important for so many reasons. It is our fountain of youth! Without it we cannot heal. It is a vasodilator, telling the blood vessels to relax and open up, allowing nutrients and oxygen to get to all our cells. It decreases high blood pressure. It boosts athletic performance and improves sleep quality. It enhances immunity, decreases inflammation and impacts memory and behavior. Nitric oxide needs a full blog post dedicated to its impact on periodontal disease and inflammation so please stay tuned for that in the new year.
One of my in-office tests is a saliva test strip that measures nitric oxide production in your mouth. You cannot heal your gum disease without the proper level of NO. Plus, this test strip also tells meif you have the right level of good bugs in your mouth making NO! Two bits of information in one quick easy test. Every patient with gum disease gets this test every time I see them. I want to be sure they are eating properly to nourish their body. We must have the building blocks to allow healing to occur.
16. Bad Breath and Mouthwash: You don’t need mouthwash. Have I said that recently? It dries your mouth, and it does not stop bad breath. It just gives you minty bad breath.
If you feel you need it, then instead, find the root of the problem and address that. If you have bad breathe, we need to look deeper into the microbiome and test.
Bad breath has many causes; microbial dysbiosis, plaque build up on the back of the tongue (see above #6), mouth breathing, acid reflux, post nasal drip, tooth decay, gum disease. and then systemic issues can all be part of the problem. This list is only the tip of the iceberg. So, throw out that mouthwash and confide in your wonderful DH to help you sleuth out the root cause of the problem. I have a little chairside bad breath detector I use. Easy and fast. Certainly not as great as a true halimeter but good enough for a quick test.
17. Paper tape is your friend- use it every night for deep sleep and better health. Taping your lips together every night ensures you get a better, deeper, more oxygenated sleep.
Sleep is when we heal the brain. Sleep allows us to clean the pathogens out of the brain through the lymph system. It takes the “garbage” out every night. We need 7-8 hours of sleep. Deep sleep is the best tool for fighting dementia. Folks laugh when I suggest taping their lips together, but those that do it report back they sleep so much better.
Do be sure to clear and clean your nose first (see #8 above) and practice first before bed to be sure you can use your nose. The first time I taped, I got a little claustrophobic but then quickly calmed down and found I could indeed breath just fine through my nose. If you cannot breathe through your nose please see an ear, nose and throat doctor or an allergist. Find out why and fix it. Nasal breathing is critical to systemic health.
18. Find a biological dental hygienist and, for that matter, a biological dental team that understands the importance of getting to the why’s before they do the how’s or you will never get healthy. Just polishing, scraping and digging into the gums removing tartar and plaque won’t solve the problem. The infection returns. That’s why “they say” gum disease is incurable. They never get to the roots of the problem, the causes, the “whys”. Find the whys before doing the treatment.
Check out the IAOMT or the IABDM websites to find better dental care in a biological dental health office where they will look deeper, and be more preventive-minded. Just know, they probably won’t accept assignment of insurance. They do not allow the insurance company to dictate how they will help you heal.
19. Sugar stops the dentinal tubule flow and allows the bad bacteria to flow down the tooth tubules. That is the start of decay. Sugar does its dirty work from inside the body, it stops the tooth from healing itself.
Please listen to my presentation: Beat Decay the Biological Way. Tooth decay is about what is happening within the body. A hole in the tooth is the result of something much, much bigger going on. A dab of fluoride is not the answer.
And because I cannot give you enough information in just 19 nuggets, I give you three more:
20. Periodontal bacteria are contagious if the host is susceptible. We share bacteria when we kiss, swap saliva, eat off the same spoon or share a drink. If our immune system is strong, we can fight these new interloper bugs. If our immune system is compromised, then the bugs take over.
21. Nutrition and gut health play a critical role in oral health. Dentistry alone cannot heal your mouth. Dental disease is the canary in the coal mine, it’s a sign something else, somewhere in the body is starting to break down. Chronic disease is starting. The immune system is allowing the bad bugs to take over, and the mouth bugs reseed the gut microbiome. Seeing an integrative physician, a nutritionist and/or registered dietitian, and having blood work in addition to the best dental care in a biologically-minded dental office is the only way to stop the breakdown and start the healing. Yes, I did already mention this but it is so important, thought it was worth re-mentioning.
You won’t hear this from your traditional dental office. Dentistry can no longer work in a silo. We must reconnect the mouth back on to the body and look at the body as a whole. You get tooth decay because something is off within the body, not because you did not brush twice a day and use fluoride. You did not lose jaw bone support because you don’t floss. As I mentioned in other posts- prehistoric man did not floss, brush, or use fluoride, yet his dental issues did not escalate like modern man’s has done. Let’s do health care, not disease-care. Find the root cause and address that for true oral health and systemic wellness.
And one last thought for an even better 2023 and beyond:
#22. Drink water! Something so simple but so critical for health. Your brain depends on water for mental clarity. When you sleep you expel moisture, so after six to eight hours, you are dehydrated. First thing in the morning, reach for that glass of clean water and fill up! Dehydration is a killer. Drinking water can also reduce feelings of depression, headaches, brain fog and anxiety. Our brain is 74.8 % water, so it makes sense that if we are not drinking enough water, this will impact our brain function enormously. Teeth need water as well! Within the tooth is a lymph system in the dentinal tubules. This is how your tooth gets nourishment and heals itself. So, drink water, lots of water! If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Here’s to water for your health. Simple, yet so vital. Cheers!
The mouth’s health is the window to your soul and body health. Finish the year strong and start the new year on the right foot. Twenty-three new nuggets of dental information should help get you going!
Invest in your health. It is the most priceless thing you own. “Health care” is much better than “disease care”. Commit to a healing plan for the new year. Please eat, sleep, move, drink water, see your dental hygienist and be healthy!
All the best for the holiday season and to an even better New YOU! May 2022 bring you all good things.