Starving Dietitian

Dental Digestif

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Nails like talons dig into arms of synthetic lambskin. In the background, a drill gently idles. The patient tries to let out a shrill, eyes wide in terror, but finds her mouth muffled with plastic. What have I done? she thinks to herself. The stench of burnt minerals lingers in the air. Her mouth feels swollen and numb. A voice is heard from behind, “You know, there’s a reason we tell people to floss”.

There’s nothing quite like feeling regret at the Dentist. I should’ve flossed deeper, brushed harder, eaten better?

You read that right.

Nutrition and Dentistry are two of the most unlikely pair. At least, to most people that is. In our neatly compartmentalized brains “Drilling and Pain” seem planets apart from “Food and Pleasure”.

Are they really that different?

It has long been known that dental plaque is a major component of the plaque found in arteries. Through minor cuts in the gums the bacterial byproduct slips in undetected, headed straight for that metronome we call a heart. What’s more, nutrient status has proven effects on the strength and weakness of teeth. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy, but it can’t be both.

Most developed societies have a curious infatuation with teeth though. In recent years India has become a hotspot for whitening products, few caring to learn the risks of such obsessions.

Nobody really seems to talk about cavity rate per capita though. It seems that in the hustle of our lives we care more about appearing healthy than actually being healthy.

Would you sacrifice your pearly whites to put down the toothbrush for good?

Flouride gets a pretty bad rap. There’s studies linking it to lower intelligence, brittle bones, and  possibly low sperm-count. In low doses it does decrease risk of dental caries, in high doses it can cause discoloration known as Dental Fluorosis. But is there another option?

I posed this question to a friend of mine, Kevin Coolidge DDS. His reply?

“(In College) we reproduced a study comparing normal brushing, xylitol gum, and iodine rinse. The iodine rinse was most effective in reducing levels of S. Mutans, the primary cavity causing bacteria.

Only downside?

“Staining was an issue, but not long term”.

The study they reproduced concluded, “…oral rehabilitation coupled with regular application of 10% Povidone Iodine application can be a good alternative to control dental caries in children…”

So now you have a decision to make. Tom Cruise tooth shine or strong, healthy, teeth?

For most people, I already know the answer.

I’ll say it again. We would rather appear healthy, than actually be healthy.

I’ve seen it countless times. Instead of trying to get fitter, people try to get lighter, thinner, more “modelesque”. I’m not against using scales to track weight loss, but I cringe when I hear dieters chasing a number. Oh you lost 3 pounds by starving yourself? I hear brains weigh about that much, maybe you left it back there.  That could be water, muscle, fat, or any number of things.

People seem to think that beauty and health are one in the same. It’s about time we remember while health is beautiful, beauty is rarely healthy.

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Stay strong and be good to each other.

-J. Iufer

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