Category Archives: Teeth and Gums

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Main Diseases Link To Gum Problems

You may not realize just how closely the condition of your mouth is linked with your overall state of health according to a good deal of recent research. Turns out, a healthy mouth doesn’t just look great and feel great, it’s good for you too. Not caring for your teeth and gums can open the door to all kinds of health issues.

Here’s what we know.

Type 2 diabetes and gum disease

Type 2 diabetics have a higher incidence of periodontitis (gum disease). The connection was reaffirmed in July 2008 by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. They examined 9,296 subjects who were diabetes free, measuring the amount of periodontal bacteria they had over a 20-year span of time. Those who had higher levels of periodontal disease also had a twofold chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the study, compared to those with no gum disease or low levels of bacteria in their mouths.

There are some interesting theories about why this might be. One suggests that when infections in the mouth get bad enough, they bring low-grade inflammation all through the body, and this causes all kinds of trouble for your sugar processing abilities. It may be that some inflammatory molecules attach to insulin receptors and keep the body’s cells from using the insulin as it should to get glucose inside the cell.

Another theory to explain the link between gum disease and diabetes involves damage to the pancreas. This is an example of a localized infection that’s capable of impacting a systemic organ that is tied to the pathophysiology of diabetes.

Gum infections and preterm birth, low birth weight

Gum infections during pregnancy are just one of many things that are the result of all those fluctuating hormones. Often patients put aside their own oral care during pregnancy… an easy thing to do with all the appointments and pressing things on your mind. This is a mistake. Experts think that inflammation in the mouth may trigger an increase in a compound known as prostaglandin that might induce early labor.

This theory hasn’t been confirmed by research, but a 2001 project found that women who were pregnant and developed gum disease between weeks 21 and 24 were four to seven times more likely to deliver before week 37. That’s impressive evidence. There’s even the suggestion that extremely poor gum health can lead to low birth weight. Two other studies in 2007 of Turkish and Brazilian women supported the ideal of a link between gum problems and both preterm birth, lower birth weight.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

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Main Diseases Link To Gum Problems Continued…

Gum disease and the heart

Oral health and heart disease have also been recognized as being connected, the two are very often found together in a patient. Still there’s no research bringing us evidence of a direct causal relationship. One of the difficulties lies in the fact that there are any number of risk factors that can also put you at risk for gum disease and heart problems. In 2005, an NIH funded study of 1,056 randomly selected subjects with no history of heart attacks/stroke who were evaluated for periodontal bacteria levels showed there was an independent relationship between heart disease and gum disease.

Why might this be? Small amounts of bacteria get into your bloodstream as you chew. This gives infectious bacteria a chance to lodge themselves inside a blood vessel, potentially leading to a dangerous blockage. Adding weight to this thinking is that when experts have examined atherosclerotic blood vessels they’ve found fragments of periodontal bacteria.

A study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 also established that aggressive treatment of gum disease cuts the risk of atherosclerosis in just six months. That’s astonishing, and one more reason why taking care of your dental health is so very important.

Gum disease and pneumonia

There’s even been a link established between bad oral health and pneumonia, though the work centers on high-risk populations, like the elderly. A 2008 study of this exact population found that the number of subjects diagnosed with pneumonia was 3.9 times higher in those with periodontal infection than in those who did not have it. The lungs are close to the mouth, and there is a lot of bacteria in there.

Bacteria from a mouth that’s not healthy can get aspirated into the lungs, causing problems with existing COPD or bringing on pneumonia. There are several CDC studies that have found better oral health can lead to a drop in respiratory infections of this kind.

Gum disease and cancer of the pancreas

Based on a 2007 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that surveyed over 50,000 American men about their health, the link between pancreatic cancer and periodontal disease was striking. No matter what their smoking status, having a history of periodontal disease was linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. This could be due to the systemic inflammation, or carcinogenic compounds produced in an infected mouth.

Now you see why it’s so important to take care of your teeth and gums. So make (and keep) that next cleaning appointment and you’ll be glad you did.

Original article:

To your good health,

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7 Simple Signs Of Health Troubles

Turns out, you don’t need tarot cards or a crystal ball to predict the future… you can do this for yourself by relying on the observations of your own five senses. You might be surprised to learn that many health problems often begin with a physical change you might not think is anything to be concerned about, something so subtle you might not notice it at first. Yet these changes can be warning signs you’ll want to heed.

One of the most surprising links between the senses and chronic disease comes in the form of hearing loss. Hearing loss is more likely in those who have diabetes. The higher than normal blood sugar may also do some damage to the blood vessels in the ears themselves. If you notice a decline in hearing, have a full hearing evaluation, as well as a physical and blood work, to see where you stand.

Vision changes can be an early signal of cognitive decline. The veins in your eyes are very much the same as the ones in your brain, so larger veins in your eyes could indicate a decline in the health of your brain years before any signs appear. Your eye doctor will be able to examine you for this.

If your sense of smell is slipping, this has been shown to be a potential early sign of Alzheimer’s disease according to the latest studies in the area. The changes that come in smell may appear much sooner than those that happen I the rest of the brain. If you’ve noticed a decline earlier than age 70, talk with your doctor.

Bad breath is a well-known (and despised) sign of gum disease, but this unfortunate problem can also be linked to erectile
Brush and floss daily and make sure you have regular dental exams and cleanings every year. If it persist despite your good dental care, talk with your doctor to look for other causes.

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Your own reflection can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. Those who look older than their age, with 3 to 4 visible signs of aging, have a higher chance of heart issues later on according to research. If you’re concerned by looking older, ask your doctor to check for any other heart disease risk factions and remember that you can change your risk by the choices you make going forward.

Your hairline can give clues to thyroid issues, and while thyroid issues affect many hormones in the body, one of the most visible is the hormone that is linked to hair growth. You might see your hair getting dry or coarse before it begins to fall out, you might also notice thinning of your eyebrows. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and have blood work done to check for thyroid hormones.

Smooth, spot free fingernails are a sign of good health. If yours have redness underneath this could be an early sign of lupus. You may also notice swelling and puffiness at the base of your nails or a rash on the backs of your hands and fingers.

If you have concerns about these, or any symptoms you are experiencing, talk to your own doctor. An honest discussion and careful evaluation by a trained professional will reassure you, and perhaps set you on the path to better health by making healthy choices about what you eat, and how active you are. Early intervention is also incredibly beneficial, often keeping you healthier, longer than you might be otherwise.

To your good health,

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How Hop Leaves Can Prevent Gum Disease

Courtesy of AgencjaAIAC / PixabayIf you’re a beer lover, you know that hops are what provide the bitterness and aroma of your favorite beverages. You might be surprised to learn that a study examined the part of hops that isn’t used when beer making, finding the beer brewing castoff to have healthful antioxidant properties that might be used to fight cavities and gum disease. The work, appearing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, points to the light green leaves of the plant that may have substances responsible for the effects.

Each year farmers harvest almost 2,300 tons of hops in the U.S. alone, but the leaves (also called bracts) aren’t used for beer making and are thrown away. There’s a large amount of material that could be put toward dental applications without impacting the brewing process or taste of the final product. There are literally hundreds of compounds in the bracts, only a few have been studied. This current research was conducted by a team lead by Yoshihisa Tanaka and sought to examine what substances in these discarded leaves might offer health benefits.

Earlier work by this same group of researchers had found that antioxidant polyphenols in the hop leaves might help defend against both cavities and gum disease. Extracts fro the leaves stopped the bacteria responsible from being able to stick to surfaces. This prevents the release of bacterial toxins.

To conduct the most compelling work in this area to date, Tanaka and the other researchers used a novel technique known as chromatography to analyze the chemical composition of hop bracts. They identified three completely new compounds as well as another already known substance found for the first time in living plants, plus another 20 compounds already well known but found for the very first time in hops themselves. The leaves also had plenty of proanthocyanidins, another beneficial antioxidant.

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How Hop Leaves Can Prevent Gum Disease Continued…

One outcome of the research is that natural oral products to fight gum disease or a more environmentally friendly type of toothpaste might be on the horizon.

In the meantime, the good news for beer drinkers is that all beer contains hops so you’ll get some antioxidant benefit by drinking it, in moderation, of course. Bear in mind that some people are more sensitive to the way hops affect the body; one may see a benefit while another does not. That’s not to say that drinking a beer every so often, if you enjoy it, won’t also bring you some unexpected health benefit, though probably not enough to prevent any disease on its own.

While beer can get a bad rap, it might surprise you to find that it also has recognized health benefits. It contains a number of antioxidants and vitamins that might benefit muscle building and prevent heart disease. Beer also has one of the highest calorie counts of any food or drink – so while you might be tempted by a light beer for calorie control, darker brews are the better choice in terms of your health.

And as always, moderation of intake is key.

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7 Health Problems Of Drinking Diet Soda

The single biggest source of calories in the American diet is soda. On average we drink almost two cans a day. In an effort to watch calories, diet varieties of our favorites are readily available. What most people don’t realize is that drinking diet varieties of soda comes with some serious side effects that can cause real health problems. Today kids drink diet soda at more than double the rate of the last decade, while for adults consumption has increased just about 25% according to numbers from a study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

By raising awareness about the very real downside to all that soda we’re drinking experts hope this might help more of us stop consuming so much of it.

1. Kidney problems – In an 11-year Harvard Medical School study including 3,000 female subjects the researchers found that diet soda is linked to a two fold increased risk for kidney decline. Kidney function started going down when a woman drank over two sodas a day. The findings also suggest that sugar sweetened sodas are not the culprit, but rather the diet sweeteners that are being used instead.

2. Metabolic syndrome – based on a University of Minnesota study from 2008 of nearly 10,000 adult subjects, just one diet soda a day was associated with a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that put you at higher risk for heart disease.

3. Obesity – we know that diet soda does not help you lose weight. This comes from a University of Texas Health Science Center study that saw the more diet soda a person drank, the greater their risk was of becoming overweight. Drinking two or more servings a day upped waistline measurements by 500%. The reason appears to be that artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s natural ability to manage calorie intake based on how sweet tasting a food is. This means eating diet, artificially sweetened foods might have you overeating.

4. Hangovers – drinks that are made with diet soda get you more drunk, faster according to research from the Royal Adelaide Hospital located in Australia. The reason is that sugar free mixers allow the liquor to enter your bloodstream much faster than those with sugar. So you get drunker, and suffer the consequences the next day.

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7 Health Problems Of Drinking Diet Soda Continued…

5. Cell damage – diet soda has one thing many regular varieties do not, mold inhibitors (sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate), and this is bad news because these preservatives have the ability to causes damage to the DNA in the mitochondria. They totally inactivate it. These substances have also been associated with hives, asthma and other allergic problems.

6. Tooth decay – because diet soda has a very acidic pH, it dissolves tooth enamel. Those who drink three or more sodas per day have worse dental health according to a University of Michigan analysis of data from dental checkups.

7. Reproductive problems – this comes from the can you drink is housed in. Many containers are coated with the substance bisphenol A (BPA) a known endocrine disruptor that has also been linked to problems as broad as heart disease and obesity to trouble having children.

To your good health,

More Reasons To Enjoy A Kiss

Can a kiss a day keep the doctor away? Maybe. Kissing gets a lot of attention, and when it’s right, there’s nothing better. It’s intimate, a lovely way to express and receive love or affection. Kisses like this release hormones, boost mood and are a perfect way to connect with the people you love.

The receptors on the lips are amazingly sensitive and kissing someone for the first time creates a very novel situation. Unless you’re kissing the wrong person, this is actually very good for you.

Interesting too that all types of animals kiss, even in sects, turtles, moles and cats who rub noses while dogs lick each other’s faces. Here are eight other surprising benefits that come to you from a kiss.

1. Kissing helps cut blood pressure, as a passionate kiss gets your heartbeat revved up in a good way that helps bring down blood pressure. Blood vessels are dilated so that blood is flowing well and reaching all your organs.

2. Kissing eases painful cramps and headaches because of the blood vessel dilation, so the pain eases after a nice long kissing session.

3. Kissing fights cavities, as it gets fluids, including saliva, going. With more saliva in the mouth it’s easy to wash away the plaque and bacteria on teeth that bring on cavities.

4. Kissing releases feel good hormones. So if you’re feeling run down or stressed out, a kiss is just what you need to feel better. It will relax, revitalize and restore you due to the feel good chemicals – serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin – that are released as part of the pleasant process.

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More Reasons To Enjoy A Kiss Continued…

5. Kissing burns a few calories, not nearly as many as you’ll burn with a half hour on the treadmill, but a vigorous kissing session can burn 8 to 16 calories per kiss. Passion is what you’re after here, not a kiss that goes on and on.

6. Kissing boosts self esteem so you feel loved and connected. According to a German study men who got a nice kiss from their wives before leaving for work made a higher income. Makes sense, if he leaves home happy, he’s more productive and is able to make a better income as a result. A nice kiss does produce a sense of well-being that’s hard to deny.

7. Kissing can give you a facelift, deep kissing can shape up the neck and jawline, often trouble spots for those trying not to look their age. Your mouth does have a number of facial muscles, and when they are kissing this helps to tone and tighten.

8. Kissing tells us if we are sexually compatible. A kiss is an excellent way to see if you have chemistry with a potential partner. If the first kiss isn’t so great, try again, they can (and do) get better because sometimes people are feeling awkward, embarrassed or nervous and this doesn’t always show them in their best light.

You see that kissing keeps us going strong, in body and in love. By the time you get to the kiss, you’re close, in another’s personal space. This is the first step in trust, and gives you a chance to learn a whole lot about the other person though touch, smell, taste and the like.

To your good health,

Look After Your Gum To Avoid Critical Health Problems

Healthy teeth and gums are not just about a great looking smile; good dental health may also impact how healthy your entire body will be. Skimping on dental care can bring some real trouble, not just upping the risk of periodontal disease but other diseases of the body that come from neglecting your teeth and gums. This is why taking care of your teeth (and gums) is so important, so don’t cancel that upcoming appointment at the dentist.

Most of us don’t get gum disease until we’re in our 30s or 40s. The symptoms can include bad breath that isn’t cleared up by usual treatments, red/swollen gums or gums that are tender or bleeding. It might hurt to chew or you might notice a loose tooth, or find your teeth are sensitive. Receding gums or teeth that look longer are also signs something is up.

Periodontitis is actually a chronic inflammatory disease, that’s not all that different from cardiovascular disease. That first step, periodontal disease is actually a recognized risk for cardiovascular disease itself – more than one study has found that periodontal disease ups the risk for heart disease. Those with periodontitis are nearly two times as likely to have heart disease as those who don’t have this condition. The inflammation caused by this mouth disease may be the key.

Periodontal disease is also a risk for several cancers. A 2007 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that men who had periodontal disease had a 63% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who had better oral health.

On a more personal subject. Long-term inflammation like the kind produced by untreated periodontal disease can, over time, constrict blood flow and lead to erectile dysfunction. Research appearing in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men in their 30s who had periodontal disease had three times the risk of ED than those without the disease.

For some time experts believed that the bacteria were the culprit, the reason periodontal disease was linked to other health problems in the body. Now more current work has found that inflammation may really be to blame for the link between what’s going on in your mouth and what’s happening in the rest of your body. Treating inflammation might not only help in periodontal diseases, but might be beneficial in the management of other chronic inflammatory diseases.

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Look After Your Gum To Avoid Critical Health Problems Continued…

Diabetic patients are more prone to periodontal disease, and this is thought to increase blood sugar and make diabetic complications more likely. In fact, having periodontal disease is often thought to be a complication that comes from diabetes. It may be because diabetics are more susceptible to infection. And research has also found that periodontal disease might make it harder for those with diabetes to keep their blood sugar under control.

Periodontal disease is also more likely if you smoke. So now you have another excellent reason to quit.

The good news is that you can do things to help prevent this very troublesome problem. Every day, brush twice, floss once and be sure to use mouthwash. You also need to visit your dentist two times a year for regular cleanings and exams. If you have concerns, talk to your dentist and ask about a comprehensive periodontal exam. You may need to seek out a specialist, known as a periodontist, who has three years of added training if your condition is more involved.

To your good health,

Gum Disease And Rheumatoid Arthritis Link Together

Every visit to the dentist comes with the same questions (reminders) about flossing, but the reason for this advice may go well beyond the health of your gums. Researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Oral Health and Systemic Diseases and an international team of scientists have confirmed that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease also have something to do with the progression and severity of rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA. This comes from new work in the area that appears in PLOS Pathogens.

Many U.S. adults have some form of gum disease, and thus are at risk for more than they realize. You might not see signs of gum disease until you reach your 30s or 40s, and men are more apt to have this problem than women, so be aware and take care.

You’d think that gum disease and RA are pretty different, but both share some very similar clinical features according to lead study author Jan Potempa, Ph.D., DSc. who used mice to see how a common pathogen impacted the course of RA. This isn’t the only inflammatory condition that has ties to periodontal disease; others include cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory condition that usually affects the small joints in the hands and feet and hits after age 40, more common in women than men. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA affects the lining of joints, bringing a painful swelling that might eventually erode bones and deform the joint itself. RA can sometimes affect other organs of the body like the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels.

The common denominator in both gum disease and RA is the fact that the immune system is frustrated and is attacking its own tissues. This eventually leads to some pretty disfiguring and uncomfortable problems for patients. Enter bacterial strain porphyromonas gingivalis, responsible for periodontal disease and the researchers found also worsening arthritis in the mouse models by speeding the onset progression and severity of disease, including the breakdown of cartilage and bone.

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Gum Disease And Rheumatoid Arthritis Link Together Continued…

When your immune system is on high alert it sees anything as the enemy. Adding to the challenge is that these proteins can be located anywhere in the body – when they are in the joints this marks the start of a faster progression of troublesome, painful RA.

The good news is that just because you’ve slacked off a bit on the flossing, it’s never too late to start. These proteins are seen in the ten years preceding the first clinical symptoms of RA, so there’s ample time to make changes to your daily routine and overall dental health. Flossing isn’t the only good thing you should be doing for your mouth, visits to the dentist are also important. A healthy mouth serves as a key marker for what’s going on inside the body.

Proper dental care could hold the key to both bone and joint health. Remember that what you do for yourself now has a significant impact on how you do going forward.

To your good health,

The Links Between Oral Health And Cancer

A really good reason to take care of not just your teeth, but your whole mouth. New research finds a link between oral health and cancer. It’s to do with the plaque on your teeth and gums increasing your risk of dying from cancer.

There are lots of studies that have shown oral health is associated with conditions like heart disease. This latest research suggests that those who naturally have more plaque on their teeth and gums are more likely to die early due to cancer than those who have less plaque.

Dental plaque is a type of bacteria that’s able to form on the surface of your teeth and gums. After you eat, the bacteria in the plaque release acids that attack the enamel of your teeth, and over time can cause the enamel to grow weaker and result in tooth decay.

Plaque that isn’t brushed away can harden into calculus or tartar. What’s more, many of our most common favorite foods cause the bacteria that are part of dental plaque to produce acids… so if you eat these foods often, you’re likely bathing your teeth and gums in acid all day long.

For the study on plaque and cancer death, around 1,400 Swedish men and women were followed for a period of 24 years. At the start of the study the participants were asked about their smoking status as well as if they had any other risk factors for cancer. The researchers also examined dental plaque buildup, tartar, gum disease and tooth loss for all the subjects. Over the period of the study, 58 of the study subjects died, 35 due to cancer.

The team saw that those who died had more dental plaque over larger surface areas of the mouth (teeth and gums) than those who did not die during the study. The specifics break out like this – those with lots of dental plaque were a whopping 79% more likely to die before their time.

On average, the women were 61 years old when they died; the men were 60. The women should have lived about 13 years longer, the men an added 8.5 years – clearly death came earlier than it should have. The findings held even after the team accounted for known risk factors in early cancer death.

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More Dental Plaque Signals Higher Risk Of Death By Cancer… Continued…

Just how this works still isn’t clear. Researchers speculate that bacteria in the gums might bring on local inflammation. This doesn’t just stay quietly in your mouth; it becomes systemic, and can be measureable in your blood.

Experts from the American Cancer Society believe that the study raises more questions than it answers. Do those with more plaque have a higher risk of cancer overall? Does more plaque make cancer patients more susceptible to complications (like infection) from their treatment?

Dentists agree that if you have a lot of dental plaque there are more microorganisms present in your mouth. Research has found that some cancers may be related to certain viruses or other microorganisms. Of course it’s far too early to say that dental plaque causes cancer, though good oral hygiene and regular dental exams (and cleanings) are certainly a smart step, both for your oral health and overall health.

The findings of this latest research on oral health and cancer appear in the journal BMJ Open.

Newly Discovered Effective Gum Disease Remedy

Good news for your gums! A diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs for short, might just be an effective gum disease remedy (periodontitis) according to new research appearing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Regular brushing and flossing, going to the dentist for checkups, and not smoking are the best things you can to do protect yourself from gum disease, but soon your dentist may be urging you to add more PUFAs to your diet as well.

The most recent research involved 8,182 adults who took part in a nationally representative survey known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004.

The subjects received dental exams and were interviewed about their daily diet to estimate how much polyunsaturated fats they were taking in. This survey also collects extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, and this allows researchers to account for other factors that might impact the results.

The team found that those whose diets were rich in PUFAs (due to what they ate or fish oil supplements) were as much as 30% less likely to have gum disease than those who ate little, or none, of this form of fat. Those who had diets rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) had up to a 23% lower risk of periodontitis.

Making changes to the diet to treat this condition might be a less expensive, and safer, way to treat periodontitis than the current methods of mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application according to researcher Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. It might also have the added benefit of preventing other chronic conditions associated with inflammation, namely stroke, as well.

Experts do know that polyunsaturated fats have helpful effects on inflammatory conditions like heart disease, so it makes sense that they may also be beneficial elsewhere in the body, maybe fighting the inflammation that causes gum disease.

With periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the tooth to form pockets, and these are places for debris to collect. Infections can get a foothold and the body’s immune system starts fighting the bacteria as the plaque spreads and goes under the gum line.

Toxins produced by the bacteria that are part of plaque as well as the body’s own “good” bacteria start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. As the disease progresses teeth become loose and tooth loss happens. Gum disease is the leading reason for tooth loss in adults.

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Eating a Diet Rich In This Prevents Gum Disease… Continued…

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, researchers have fount potential links between gum disease and other serious health problems. In certain circumstances, the microorganisms from the mouth can be associated with events like stroke and heart disease. Gum disease may also make diabetes worse.

Surprisingly, even modest levels of PUFAs (less than 40 milligrams per day for DHA, 10 milligrams per day for EPA) were enough to bring down the risk of gum disease. What’s more, the reduction in risk didn’t get better the more you took in… so more is not better. And perhaps most unexpected, the research found that supplements worked equally well at bringing the benefit

Some natural food sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids like DHA and EPA are fatty fish like salmon, nuts, margarine and peanut butter. Of course it’s also important to know that some of these foods can be high in sugar, so read labels and choose carefully before you eat them expecting them to be a gum disease remedy.

Natural Teeth Whitening Tips For a Healthy Smile

We all know that brushing and flossing are the best way to keep your smile looking its best, but top natural teeth whitening tips include enjoying foods that are “tooth friendly”, and avoiding ones that are trouble go a long way toward keeping your smile sparkling and your gums healthy.

Your teeth are strong and pretty resilient overall, but if you have any with root canals or fillings that tooth is typically weaker. Bite down on something hard (ice, hard candy, olives, fruits that have pits or unpopped popcorn) and you’re more likely to suffer a crack or fracture in such a tooth, and an emergency trip to your dentist to boot.

When it comes to a great looking smile, one of the best (not the easiest mind you) thing you can do is to limit snacking. Beyond adding calories to your diet, snacking interrupts the flow of saliva meant to cleanse the mouth and teeth to remove cavity-producing substances. Constant snacking continually exposes your teeth to substances that erode enamel, which is why experts suggest you limit eating to three meals a day. If you do snack, choose a food that’s healthier, as these are less likely to cause tooth decay.

To ensure your smile always looks its best, here are seven things to add to your diet…

1. Water is the most natural, calorie free thirst quencher around, and helps to wash acid producing foods from the teeth and mouth.

2. Sugar free drinks are ideal if you like something with a bit more taste. These also serve to wash the acid producing food from the mouth.

3. Sugar free gum increases the flow of saliva, this helps to neutralize acids in the mouth and thus protect the enamel of the teeth. This is a great choice when you’re craving something sweet, but are watching your calorie intake.

4. Citrus fruit though acidic also increases the flow of saliva. Oranges, grapefruits and other such fruits offer protection to enamel because they contain a lot of water that washes away food and acids.

5. Cheese and milk not only encourage saliva production, the proteins in these foods also act as a buffer against acids so the enamel of the tooth is protected from erosion. There are studies that suggest these foods might possibly strengthen the protective minerals found in the surface of your teeth.

6. Fish and flax are thought to reduce inflammation and offer protection against gum disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most potent anti-inflammatory nutrients, and people who eat a lot of them are more resistant to both inflammation and infection, perhaps gum disease as well.

7. Cocoa has substances that keep inflammation in check and might also help protect teeth against erosion and decay. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar than the milk chocolate variety. And chocolate milk, which does have some sugar, does not appear to up the risk of cavities.

Now that you’ve seen what to add, here are some things to avoid…

Continues below…

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Get A Bright, Healthy Smile With These Foods… Continued…

1. Sugary drinks: When the bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars they produce acids that can erode enamel and create pits where cavities form. Because we sip them, these drinks raise acid levels over a long period of time. Carbonated drinks are especially bad, as the carbonation ups acidity. Some research has singled out sports drinks as the worst offenders.

2. Candy and sweetened snacks: No surprise here since most of these are loaded with sugar that increases acid levels in the mouth. Sticky and gummy candies are the most destructive choice of all because they adhere to the tooth surface, making it hard for saliva to clean the teeth.

3. Sugary breakfast foods: These have a mix of sugar and starch, more likely to get stuck in the plaque between teeth. Ready to eat breakfast cereal, pastries and many processed (though highly convenient) breakfast foods are best avoided if you want to maintain a healthy smile.

4. Some starches: Breads, pasta, rice and potatoes raise the destructive acid levels in the mouth. The more refined (or cooked) a starch is, the more likely it will raise acid levels. Raw starches don’t endanger tooth enamel.

5. Coffee, tea and red wine: Beyond the fact that these beverage tend to stain the tooth surface, these drinks are typically sipped, allowing the acid levels in the mouth to remain high over a much longer period of time.

So, by following these natural teeth whitening tips you can have a bright and healthy smile with minimum intervention and cost.