Gary J. Wayne, DMD
When we think of medieval times, we picture peasants with rotted and missing teeth but Tim O’Neill, MA Medieval Literature, says during the Middle Ages, a white smile and pleasant breath were admirable attributes. During the Middle Ages, there’s evidence that people used toothpastes, powders, treatments, and even mouth washes for halitosis!
Sugar wasn’t widely available during the time period and was too costly for most people. Medieval people used sugar as a seasoning or used the natural sugars in fruit or honey, which they used sparingly. Most people ate a diet high in calcium from dairy and also ate vegetables and cereals, very similar to the diet dentists today would recommend.
Archaeological studies show that an average of 20 percent of teeth showed decay. In some early 20th century populations, up to 90 percent of teeth showed decay, probably in part to the increased sugar consumption once sugar was imported from tropics.
How did medieval people brush their teeth? They would rub their teeth and gums with a rough linen. Recipes have been discovered for pastes and powders they might have applied to the cloth to clean and whiten teeth, as well as to freshen breath. Some pastes were made from ground sage mixed with salt crystals. Others included powdered charcoal from rosemary stems or a crushed pepper, mint, and rock salt. Most pastes included both an abrasive and a scented herb or spice.
Medieval people even had their own version of Scope! Typically, the mouth washes were made from herbs and spices steeped in wine or vinegar. Mint, marjoram, and cinnamon were popular. People also chewed on fennel seeds, parsley, and cloves.
When people did have dental problems, the tooth would just be pulled by the local barber — without an anesthetic! Skilled surgeons may have had treatments for oral cancer. Wealthier people may have had dentures, made from cow bone or human teeth.
Aren’t you glad you live today?
If you’ve awoken with a sore jaw or your dental health professional has noticed your teeth are ground down or damaged, you may be clenching your teeth during the day or grinding them while you sleep. The condition of subconsciously grinding or clenching teeth is known as bruxism. People who grind their teeth at night are more likely to suffer from other sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea.
In cases where a patient may be grinding frequently and strongly enough to cause jaw disorders, headaches, dental damage, or other problems, your dental health professional may recommend a variety of treatments. The choice of treatment may be related to the causes of a patient’s particular case.
A dentist may recommend a splint or mouth guard to keep teeth separated and prevent damage. Constructed from hard acrylic or soft material, the mouth guard is designed to fit over your upper or lower teeth. Sometimes, people clench because their teeth aren’t aligned properly. Tooth wear may lead to increased sensitivity or even problems chewing. Dentists may reshape the chewing surfaces or use crowns. Other treatments may include braces or oral surgery.
If you’re grinding your teeth due to stress, professional counseling or strategies to promote relaxation may help. Behavior therapy may help by guiding you to practice proper mouth and jaw positioning.
Be sure to visit your dental professional regularly to maintain healthy dental habits.
eCigarettes or “vaping” has become a popular alternative to cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the US. Inhalation of tar and other toxic chemicals is linked to cancer and heart disease, as well as many other health issues.
Enter eCigarettes, electronic, battery-operated devices that simulate the act of smoking and delivers nicotine without less of the toxic chemicals left by burning tobacco leaves. But, are eCigarettes really a safe alternative to that pack of Marlboro Lites?
eCigarettes deliver nicotine in an aerosol or vaporized form. The vapor in some eCigarettes has been found to contain carcinogens and toxins such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, as well as toxic metal nanoparticles from the mechanism. The vapor in eCigarettes is essentially created from a solution of nicotine, distilled water, and flavorings.
Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, is a highly addictive substance that may impact dental health. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it restricts blood flow. When people “vape,” the vapor constricts blood flow to the gum tissue, which can lead to unhealthy gums. In addition, eCigarettes cause a reduction in saliva or “dry mouth,” which can increase risk for gingivitis, tooth decay, and mouth infections.
Though eCigarettes contain nicotine from tobacco, they aren’t yet subject to age restrictions in some areas. Some states have banned sales to minors but minors are able to purchase online or in mall kiosks. The cartridges are available in flavors like cookies and cream milkshake or cherry, which appeal to adolescents.
Are eCigarettes a safe alternative to smoking? There isn’t enough evidence to support the safety of eCigarettes and the exposure to nicotine via the oral cavity may pose risks to dental health.
As summer’s heat waves are around the corner, we often grab a soft drink or sports drink when we’re thirsty. Did you know the beverage you choose can impact your dental health?
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, carbonation, sugar, and acids in soda can weaken tooth enamel and encourage the growth of bacteria, which contributes to tooth decay.
What happens when you drink a soda? Sugar combines with your mouth’s bacteria to form acid, which combined with extra acids from the beverage attacks your teeth. The effect lasts for about twenty minutes and each sip starts the process over again.
Ongoing exposure to acid weakens tooth enamel. Cavities may begin when the tooth enamel is eroded.
Is diet soda better? Artificially sweetened sodas still contain acid, which can harm your teeth. Non-carbonated fruit drinks still have acid and sugar, which may cause decay.
What can you do to reduce the risk? Drink carbonated soft drinks in moderation. When you do drink a soda, use a straw to keep sugar away from teeth. Rinse your mouth with water or brush soon after drinking soda.
Don’t forget to get regular dental checkups and cleanings!
With the increased humidity and heat, it’s important to stay hydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re exercising or even just doing everyday activities in humidity, your sweat can’t evaporate to cool down your body temperature. Children, older people, and endurance athletes are more prone to dehydration.
How much water do you need per day? Forget the traditional advice to drink eight 8 oz. glasses per day. The amount of water your body needs depends on many variables, including body weight, activity, and where you live. Aim for .5 to 1 oz. per pound of body weight, with the higher amount if you’re in a hot climate or exercising.
Nutritionists suggest sipping throughout the day rather than drinking large amounts at once. When we consume large amounts of water, our kidneys are signaled to excrete water, blocking the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which retains water in the body. In rare cases, drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time can cause hyponatremia, a sometimes fatal condition in which the level of sodium in blood drops too low.
Dehydration puts us at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke, cramps, seizures, or even kidney failure as well as an increased risk for kidney stones, caused by increased calcium in urine. Symptoms of dehydration include low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, excessive thirst, and fever.
What can you do to avoid dehydration? Be sure to sip water throughout the day. If you’re exercising over sixty minutes or vigorously for less time, choose a sports drink that contains 13-19 g carbohydrates and 80-110 mg sodium. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, both of which are dehydrating. For each cup of coffee, iced tea, or cocktail, drink a glass of water.
You’ve filled your cart with broccoli, flax seed, and Greek yogurt but how can you be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck?
According to a recent post by Health.com’s Sarah Bruning, how we eat certain foods may prevent us from accessing the most vitamins and minerals.
Flaxseeds have become the rock star of the nutrition world. They’re high in fiber, omega-3s, and phytocheicals that may protect against cancer. But, your body might not be able to digest whole flaxseeds. Katherine Zeratsky, RD of the Mayo Clinic recommends using ground flaxseeds. Either purchase pre-ground or whirl through a coffee grinder or spice mill.
If you’re switching your morning coffee for tea, keep your beverage black. Studies show adding milk to black tea won’t effect the antioxidants but it does impact the cardiovascular benefits. Proteins from milk can bind with catechins in the tea, which makes the beneficial compounds hard to absorb.
Steamed broccoli. How hum. The green veggie is packed with vitamin C, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and other anti-carcinogenic compounds. A 2009 study in China concluded steaming is the best cooking method to retain health benefits. Boiling and stir-frying, not so much…
Strawberries are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C but when you slice and sugar those berries ahead of time, you’re losing valuable nutrients. Kristy Del Coro, senior culinary nutritionist for SPE Certified, says vitamin C and other nutrients are light- and oxygen-sensitive. Frozen produce does retain lots of nutrients and are a better option than eating out of season fruit or vegetables that have traveled long distances or weren’t allowed to fully ripen.
Allicin, the cancer-fighting enzyme in garlic, benefits from exposure to air. Let chopped garlic sit for about 1o minutes to activate the enzyme.
Whole grains and beans
When adding whole unrefined grains like farro, freekeh, sorghum, and wheat berries or dried beans, soak overnight in water to release phytates, antioxidant compounds that can bind to vitamins and minerals, preventing absorption in the body. Semi-refined or unhulled grains like pearled barley or oats do not need to be soaked.
The watery substance topping Greek yogurt is whey, which contains protein and vitamin B12, along with minerals like calcium and phosphorous. Stir yogurt instead of pouring off the liquid. Heating yogurt for cooking removes the probiotic benefits. Live and active cultures can’t stand up to heat. However, you’ll still get the protein, calcium, and Vitamin D.
Adding a sliced tomato to your burger or sandwich? To better absorb lypocene, the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their cancer- and heart disease-fighting properties, cook first. Researchers at Cornell University found the antioxidant content increases when heated to about 190 degrees.
Tempted to buy asparagus in a microwave-ready bag? Studies show microwaving may deplete the vitamin C content because the nutrient is water soluble. Quickly steam or stir fry over the stove till tender and crisp and not soft. Save the leftover water from steaming for even more vitamins and minerals. Add to a sauce or soup.
You’ve started a diet to drop those five pounds before beach and pool party season but find yourself starving around 3 pm every day or maybe you feel the pangs of hunger when you watch your favorite TV show or at the movies.
Why are we always hungry, even if we’ve eaten a meal just an hour ago?
According to a recent CNN report, hunger is impacted by what we eat, the hormones that regulate our appetite, and emotional factors like stress, which reduces our serotonin levels, which can leave us feeling starved even if we aren’t.
And your mother was right. When you quickly devour that burger, you don’t even register you’ve eaten those 1,200 calories due to release of hormones, which take some time to register that you are full.
You’re Confusing Thirst with Hunger
You reach for a bag of pretzels when you’re really thirsty. The hypothalamus in the brain regulates both hunger and thirst and when you’re dehydrated, the signals get crossed. When you’re feeling hungry but haven’t had a drink in a while, drink a bottle of water and wait fifteen or twenty minutes before eating.
How many times have you hit that 3 pm wall and grabbed a candy bar as a pick me up? Again, hormones are at play. If you haven’t had a restful sleep, levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, increase and levels of leptin, which signals you’re full, decrease. Also, when you feel the need for that 8-hour energy boost, you’re more likely to crave that donut or bag of chips. Try to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night.
That huge plate of pasta or super-sized fries may leave you exhausted. Digesting refined carbs causes your blood sugar to spike and drop, which leaves you feeling hungry for more. Snack on almonds, pistachios, or even Chia instead of that bagel.
Deadlines, bills, and an overbooked schedule may lead you to the cookie jar for some comfort but also impact levels of adrenalin and cortisol, which are the body’s protective mechanism to gear you up for a fight. Stress also decreases serotonin levels, which also leaves you hankering for that brownie. Take a yoga class or a walk to decompress.
After you’ve had a couple drinks, it’s easy to dip into the wings or order an extra large pizza with all the toppings. Your resistance to caloric foods may be down and alcohol also leaves you dehydrated. Be sure to drink a glass of water along with that glass of wine or martini and have a salad or healthier options available.
Whether you’re busy at your desk or decide to skip breakfast and lunch to save calories for dinner at your favorite spot, going four or five hours without food increases your levels of ghrelin, which send you packing for the nearest candy bar. If you’re banking calories for a later splurge, stick with lighter meals focused on vegetables and be sure to eat something within an hour of waking, even if a hard boiled egg or some plain yogurt.
Don’t Skip the Fat or Protein
Dining on dry lettuce leaves won’t leave you satisfied. Women between 19-70 benefit from 46 g of protein per day while men should aim for 56 g. Focus on lean proteins Heart healthy fats like oils, nuts, and avocado also keep you satisfied. Top that salad with a slice of avocado or some olive oil and vinegar.
Your alarm is synced with the coffeemaker or you can’t imagine morning without a “K-cup.” The barista doesn’t even need to ask your name. You wonder if those AM or midday lattes are going to impact your health.
The benefits of coffee have been a hot topic for decades. Latest analysis shows that, in moderation, coffee may provide some health benefits.
According to a report on CBS News, drinking three to five cups a day may lead to decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and even melanoma, as well as lower the risk of death in general.
Sorry, those coffee-enhanced sugar-filled frozen drinks don’t count! To maximize benefits and minimize risk, coffee consumption should be more than 1 to 2 cups a day but fewer than five or six 8-oz. cups a day, without much added sweetener or creamer.
The coffee bean is a good source of antioxidants. Most studies are conducted on caffeinated coffee so the benefits of decaf are not as known. Caffeine does dehydrate so be sure to add in an additional glass of water for each cup of coffee, especially on a hot day or after exercise!
Drinking that iced coffee before your workout may actually make your workout more enjoyable, according to the Journal of Physiology!
When we hit that 3 pm energy slump or our college kids need to pull off a late-night study session, we’re often tempted to drink a can of Red Bull, Rock Star, or Monster. Is that safe?
The buzz energy drinks provide comes from large doses of caffeine and other legal stimulants like guarana and ginseng. In fact, energy drinks can contain 75 mg to over 200 mg of caffeine per serving – or the equivalent of one or two cups of black coffee. Caffeine free drinks derive the energy boost from guarana, which has the same effect as caffeine. The amount of caffeine or stimulants may actually be higher if the can contains two or more servings.
Is it okay to drink an occasional can when you need to stay up late? Caffeine is a powerful substance that should be treated with care. The stimulating properties in energy drinks can raise heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes causing palpitations. The substances also dehydrate the body and may cause problems with sleep.
What about using energy drinks for an energy boost before you hit the gym or jog? When you’re sweating from exercise and experiencing the diuretic effect of caffeine, you may become severely dehydrated.
Energy drinks have become a popular mixer with alcohol, which presents more potential dangers. Combined with alcohol, which is a depressant, stimulants may mask how intoxicated someone is. Fatigue is a warning sign of intoxication. No matter how alert you might feel after drinking a Red Bull with vodka, the blood alcohol is the same as it would be without the energy drink. Once the stimulant wears off, the alcohol effects remain. Research also has shown that people drink more and have higher BAC levels when they combine alcohol with caffeine. Energy drinks and alcohol are both dehydrating, which can impact your body’s ability to break down alcohol, increasing the toxicity.