The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines dental cavities or “caries” as the “result of bacteria on teeth that breakdown foods and produce acid that destroys tooth enamel and results in tooth decay”.
I see the result of sugar and poor diet on teeth every day. This coupled with inadequate oral hygeine/home care is the difference between dental health and decay. When I see the effects on the oral cavity, it makes me wonder what sugar, processed foods, and improper diet does to the body as a whole in terms of acidity, plaque in the arteries, inability to detoxify, and breakdown of the organs and immune systems. It is a humbling thought.
The acid stays present on the teeth because of either poor brushing and flossing habits (oral hygiene) and/or the presence of too much acidity in the saliva, which feeds the decay-causing bacteria and causes it to flourish. Children from age 6 until adolescence are at risk for cavities because their constant exposure to sweets, whether in the form of all-too-prevalent candy or ‘good-for-you’ fruit juices, which contain a high degree of fructose. While fructose is a natural sugar, it is still a sweet and will feed the bacteria that causes tooth decay. My youngest patient is currently two years old and has cavities.
In my holistic dental practice, I strongly espouse the basics. What you do every day to maintain the health of the mouth pays dividends on many levels. Keeping your mouth and gums bacteria free and thus inflammation free has become recognized as having a role in the health of your heart and blood vessels. Brushing and flossing really are important. Yes often it is inconvenient, but once a day is all you need to maintain your teeth in a healthy state. If you have trouble with inflammation, maybe twice a day with regular cleanings will be necessary.
If you have bleeding gums when you brush or when you have cleanings done at the dental office, or if you have pocketing over 3 millimeters when measured by your dentist, then more than the basics may be necessary. Often deep cleanings or root planing is recommended. However, I have found that bringing the inflammation down first is more effective than just deep cleanings. I have spoken about the holistic gel treatment I do in my dental practice in previous posts. What I haven’t spoken about is the overall effect it has on the health of the mouth.
Basically, less bacteria and less inflammation leads to less plaque and less decay. Really healthy gums means healthier teeth. The two go hand in hand. With this foundation, good home care and a good holistic dentist who is focused on the preservation of your teeth, you will have your teeth for a lifetime.
Dr. Carey O’Rielly is a holistic dentist in San Diego, California who truly understands and practices the tenets of holistic health, both as a practitioner and in his personal life. His remarkable knowledge of the field came about through years of study and experience, initiated by his own work-related health challenges.
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