5 Tips to Stay Balanced During Thanksgiving Chaos – & Beyond

Thanksgiving tableWe usually think of Thanksgiving and the ensuing holidays as a time of joy, warmth and togetherness. It can also be a time of chaos, tension and stress – an altogether challenging time of year.

Recently, we received a great set of balance-maintaining tips from Megha Mehta, founder of The Balance Mantra and author of the new book Find Your Rhythm: Feel Your Way to Perfect Wellness.

Here, she says, is “how you can really activate your innate body wisdom this Thanksgiving!”

  1. Pause and Scan Several Times Daily: Set the tone for what’s coming up by building this really simple pause and scan technique several times into your day. All you need to do is pause whatever you’re up to for a minute and allow yourself to “feel into” your body. You can start from your toes and then go up all the way into your belly, chest, arms, head and so on. Make sure you’re acutely aware of the sensations, feelings and visions that may come up. The more often you do this, the better you will be tuned in to your body’s internal landscape.
  2. Breathe to Get Out of Your Own Head: Breathing is the fastest way to become aware and present. It can be a great route to getting out of your mind. Whatever it is that you’re onto just dedicate 1-2 (or more if can!) breaths to getting in to your body. If you aren’t able to feel more present in your body yet, don’t fret, this is a practice that you will get better at with time.
  3. Letting Go is Just Like Minimizing an App: Just before you go to bed at night, close your eyes and imagine yourself letting go of each part of your day. Just like minimizing apps on your smartphone or windows on your computer use 2-3 minutes to send each of your worries, thoughts, to-do’s and other ideas into ether (space). Depending on whether you’re spiritual or religious you can also hand each of these over to God, the universe or consciousness.
  4. Inhabit Your Body: Many of us are going about our days without fully “being” in our bodies. It’s like parts of our bodies have shut down or have been blocked and we can’t access them. A great way to activate your body’s wisdom is to take a moment to make each part of your body more fully awake and alive before you start your day. This can take as little as 30 seconds! Just allow yourself to stretch, move and say good morning to every single part of your body, first thing in the morning!
  5. Disconnect to Reconnect: Whether you’re in a conversation with friends or family or taking those calls, messages and emails that are urgent, it is critical to stop. The constant connection slowly erodes the internal connection we have with our bodies. That makes it more challenging to hear, understand and interpret the messages that our bodies’ are giving us all the time! So for a few seconds, just take time off from your computer screen, laptop, iPad, tablets and smartphones and let yourself just be where you are!

Image by liz west, via Flickr

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Dr. Glidden on the Healthcare System Status Quo

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Powered Toothbrush or Manual? What the Latest Evidence Says

powered vs. manual toothbrushFor a long time, the choice between manual and powered brushes was mainly one of personal preference. Now, more evidence suggests that when it comes to breaking up oral biofilm (plaque), powered brushes may in fact be more effective.

The latest Cochrane Review on the matter was published this past summer. Analyzing 56 relevant trials, its authors found “moderate quality evidence” that powered devices are better for reducing both plaque and gingivitis (mild gum disease), both in the short and long term.

But why might this be?

As we’ve mentioned before, the high-speed pulsating and oscillating actions of sonic brushes especially make them much more able to thoroughly clean areas that are hard to clean well with a manual brush. More, they stimulate the soft tissues more effectively, acting as a deterrent against gum disease.

Additionally, most models give an indication after every 30 seconds of use. This makes it easier to remember to spend a full 2 minutes brushing: 30 seconds per quadrant.

Of course, manual brushes have their own virtues. For instance, many find them easier to angle for cleaning the inner arches. Also, cleaning the tongue can be more comfortable with a manual brush.

A good many of our patients use both, alternating between the two.

Either way, the best brush of all remains the one you use regularly and effectively.

Image by mgstanton, via Flickr

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Stat!: One Step Forward, One Step Back

  • Percent decrease in smoking-related deaths in the US between 1960 and 2010: 54
  • Percent increase in obesity-related death: 166
  • Percent decrease in death from heavy alcohol use: 22
  • Percent increase in deaths from firearms: 29
  • Percent decrease in death due to motor vehicles: 46
  • Percent increase in death by toxins (especially prescription drug overdose): 1005

  • Quality-adjusted years of life Americans have gained thanks to to less smoking, less heavy alcohol use, and safer driving and cars: 1.82
  • Quality-adjusted years of life lost due to obesity, firearms, and poisonous substances: 1.77

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Want to Age Faster? Drink Lots of Soda Pop!

Sodas and other sugary drinks can damage your teeth. A lot. (Research from the University of Adelaide recently showed that the destruction starts within the first 30 seconds of exposure!) Regular consumption has also been shown raise your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Now comes a new study suggesting that those cardiovascular issues may stem from the impact of sugary drinks on celluar aging.

Ptelomereublished in the American Journal of Public Health, the study analyzed dietary factors and telomere length. Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the end of our chromosomes that help protect them. They become shorter, though, as cells divide. When they get too short, the cell dies (as all cells do, eventually). Scientists have thus found telomere length to be a good sign of of aging. (Or as the title of one paper straightforwardly put it, “Short telomeres are sufficient to cause the degenerative defects associated with aging.”)

The current study found an association between regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and shorter telomeres. No such association was found for diet sodas, though – or, somewhat oddly, non-carbonated sugar-sweetened drinks. The authors’ conclusion was straight-forward:

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging.

Yet one more reason to steer clear of sugary sodas – or at least make them only a sometimes-thing.

Image by Samulili, via Wikimedia Commons

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Big League Chew, Major League Damage

Well, the Giants did it again last night and won their third World Series in 5 years!

And while the 2014 season is now all but history, baseball – maybe more than any other sport – basks in that history. As Lawrence Ritter once wrote, “The strongest thing that baseball has going for it today are its yesterdays.”

One of a recent yesterday’s greats – Curt Schilling – drew some extra attention last week courtesty of an interview in which he spoke about his having oral cancer. Like ex-Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, this 6 time All-Star and 3 time World Series champ was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, which started in one of his tonsils, then spread to a lymph node in his neck. He attributes it to chewing tobacco.

“I never ever threw a pitch with a dip in my mouth,” Schilling said. “I knew it wasn’t good for you. I didn’t want to be dehydrated.

“But if you go back and look, after every single game I pitched, the first thing I did when I got to the dugout was put one in.

“I didn’t wait. I couldn’t wait.”

Curt SchillingThough as we noted before, seldom if ever is a condition like cancer the result of a single factor, tobacco use does major league damage on many levels – which may be compounded by conventional medical treatments, as well. If ESPN’s sobering summary of the damage doesn’t at least give pause, we’re not sure what it would take to convince a person that tobacco use is a terrible idea.

What followed was a 5-month ordeal in which brutal radiation and chemotherapy treatments left Schilling sobbing like a child, demoralized by the excruciating pain. He lost more than 70 pounds, developed a staph infection that could have killed him, endured two bouts of pneumonia, a bacterial infection in his intestines and multiple excruciating flare-ups of oral thrush, and wrestled with depression that required hospitalization and therapy.

His scars are internal, imperceptible to the human eye, but his mouth is ravaged by 30 years of chewing tobacco. Even before his cancer was detected, Schilling had decimated his taste buds by dipping. The radiation and chemotherapy have since destroyed his salivary glands.

Schilling doesn’t eat in public because he can’t be certain that his windpipe will close properly. Sometimes food seeps into his lungs and leaves him prone to infection. Other times he chokes, coughs his meal back up, then starts over again. Dining requires careful, methodical chewing, reducing his food to a pasty substance, much like baby food. “I don’t swallow normally anymore,” Schilling explained.

We wish Curt and his family the best, and sincerely hope that his sharing his experience so frankly will help keep others from having to go through anything like it themselves.

And lest you think only smokeless tobacco is a problem…

Image via

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Eat Sugar & White Flour!

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

Originally published in Biosis (Issue #7)

For Halloween 1973, I had a bumper sticker made to hand out to trick-or-treaters. It said, “Eat Sugar and White Flour – Support Your Local Dentist and Physician.” With it, we gave the kids a choice of treats: a pencil, a toothbrush or candy. What do you think was their favorite?

Predictive Medicine by Cheraskin & RingsdorfThe inspiration for the sticker was a book I had bought earlier that year, after hearing a lecture by Emanuel Cheraskin, MD, DMD, Chair of the Department of Oral Medicine at the University of Alabama – Birmingham. His book was Predictive Medicine: A Study in Strategy, and I was especially struck by this passage from the dust jacket flap:

A true health program should have as its thesis the anticipation and prevention of disease rather than mere identification and treatment. At the present time no such formal program exists anywhere in the world….

Predictive medicine may be described as the clinical discipline designed to anticipate disease in man, to foretell illness before it erupts in a classical form. In addition predictive medicine is concerned with primary prevention of disease – prevention of occurrence. The strategy of such a program is here outlined.

The book itself was prefaced by a quote from Sir William Osler: “Your only insurance against tomorrow is what you do today!” Those words had a profound impact on me.

Cheraskin’s book truly changed my life, my family’s life and the direction of our dental practice. In 1973, we were still filling teeth with mercury, though we and our patients knew the material was poison. But even back then, insurance companies were the “mothering teat” of most dental practices. Patients would only do what their insurance companies allowed. That meant mercury fillings.

Yes, we fell into that trap.

But after reading Cheraskin, I made a commitment to creating what he said didn’t exist as a formal program anywhere in the world. We would make it a way of life in our dental practice. And ever since, we have been refining our practice, bringing in the new and ever searching for a higher state of being through integrated, biological dentistry.

This is the backdrop for telling you more about a situation we see nearly every day in our office: recurrent tooth decay.

The conventional approach to treating dental caries (cavities) is to remove and replace the diseased tooth tissue with a filling material (mercury, silver, gold, porcelain, ceramic or composite). No attempt is made to cure the disease. The patient subject to this Western school dentistry often returns only months later needing more fillings due to recurrence of caries.

In contrast, our integrated, biological approach involves active and aggressive caries-management and prevention. It also promotes understanding of the science behind what’s really going on. After all, you can’t win the war if you don’t know your enemy.

I think most patients would agree that when they visit us for their preventive maintenance visits – some offices call it a “recall,” a word I detest – they may think of them more as lighthearted interrogations about how they daily control the dental biofilm commonly called “plaque.” And yet, despite our best efforts at motivation and education, the average adult client in our practice has anywhere from 11 to 18 decayed, missing or permanently filled teeth.

It is universally recognized that decay and caries are multifactorial, with specific bacteria residing in intraoral plaques. With the advent of new and more sophisticated microscopy, such as the confocal scanning laser, we now understand more about the nature of dental biofilms.

dental biofilmA biofilm is a well-organized colony of differing microorganisms living in a cooperative community. If you were to place some flowers in a vase for a few days and then remove them, you would find a sticky, slimy surface adhering to the inside of the vase. This is a classic example of a biofilm. The more it’s allowed to stagnate, the more biofilm develops.

Strictly speaking, you don’t remove biofilm from your teeth. You disturb it using one or more dental cleaning tools: toothpaste, brushes, floss, Perio-Aids, oral irrigators and so on. But within just a few minutes of being disturbed, the biofilm begins to form again.

When dental scientists view biofilm through confocal scanning lasers, they see that the microbes living and reproducing in the biofilm are not distributed evenly. Rather, they are grouped in microcolonies, each surrounded by a sticky matrix. Within this matrix are channels through which fluids and waste products pass. They also allow the exchange of endotoxins, exotoxins and enzymes – byproducts produced by the microbes – along with other metabolites and oxygen.

More, these microcolonies may have differing ecological niches. The pH, redox potential, oxygen potential and resistivity can differ greatly even between neighboring colonies. The colonies, meantime, are always in communication with each other. There is a constant flurry of activity among them. “Speaking” to each other through the exchange of chemical and electrical signals, the colonies produce even more harmful enzymes – ones that will digest whatever structures they are adhering to.

Those structures include your teeth.

Whenever you eat or drink any fermentable carbohydrate – such as sugars or refined starches – the microbes in the biofilm literally eat up the acids that are created as the carbohydrate breaks down. And if the biofilm has colonized for a few days, the reactions are even more violent. Within 20 minutes of ingesting fermentable carbohydrates, acidity is increased, drastically lowering the pH and restoring the conditions that allow the biofilm to thrive.

This process repeats with every bite or sip of fermentable carbohydrate.

With healthy teeth, the process occurs on the enamel. But if one’s gums have receded, exposing some of the roots of one or more teeth, the biofilm will attach to the exposed root, as well. The root is not covered with enamel, though. It is shielded by a thin layer of cementum, which is eventually eroded by brushing. At this point, the dentin below is exposed.

dentinal tubulesDentin is somewhat porous. Within, dentinal tubules radiate from the dental pulpal complex, each tubule containing a protein process. You can think of these structures as small drinking straws, each with a length of spaghetti running through. And all told, there are miles of these tubules within each tooth. One dental scientist who measured the length of all tubules within a single incisor reported a total of about three miles!

Dentinal fluid slowly circulates through the straw-like tubules, moving from the inside towards the root surface. This movement is controlled by hormones, and it’s estimated that the fluid circulates about 10 times a day. But when biofilm is left on the teeth and you eat fermentable foods, hormones reverse the flow. The fluid moves inward, taking with it microbes of the biofilm, introducing them to the pulpal complex. The increased acidity, in turn, demineralizes both the enamel and dentin. After 3500 to 5000 circulation cycles, the structures of the teeth soften. Decay sets in, migrating to the interior depths of the teeth, pushing through much like a mushroom cap first bursting through moist earth.

The more acid-producing and acid-loving microorganisms you have in your biofilm, and the more frequent your intake of fermentable carbohydrate, the more decay. We see it time and again. And if the biofilm isn’t thoroughly stirred up a few times a day, the decay process is even more destructive.

We like to help inquiring clients assess their dietary habits. Balancing the biological terrain further helps digestion and the use of the ingested food. It also helps ensure a healthy salivary flow and improve its buffering capacity. Indeed, those whose terrains are less disordered – as measured through our BTA testing – seem to be better protected from the ravages of tooth decay than people with less favorable diets. As an added overall body benefit, these patients take many fewer prescription medications and have a better quality of life and greater comfort with their mental outlooks.

The condition and functioning of the teeth and periodontum are not of self-contained important; their state of health implicates all the rest of the body. – Sperber

Biofilm image via The Marshall Protocol Knowledge Base;
dentinal tubules image via University of Oslo Institute of Dentistry

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