Another Natural, Fluoride-Free Option for Cleaning Your Teeth

antique tooth powder cansOnce upon a time, toothpaste wasn’t paste. It was powder. (And once upon a time before that, it was things like crushed shells, burnt bread, charcoal and dragon’s blood, but that’s another story for another time.) In fact, although the first mass produced pastes were available by the late 1800s, it wasn’t until after World War I that the stuff we know and use today really became popular.

Tooth powder still exists, though – including a product we only discovered relatively recently at Lush: Toothy Tabs. Intrigued by these little boxes of tooth powder pellets, we bought a few flavors to try out.

Now, we don’t often write about specific products on this blog, but this one, we do want to gush about. A little.

For starters, it’s fluoride-free. Also absent: sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, titanium dioxide and the like. What it does contain is a mixture of safe synthetic abrasives such as baking soda, sorbitol for sweetness, clay for whitening and various blends of oils and herbal ingredients. All seven current varieties are vegan.

Lush Toothy TabsToothy Tabs can take a bit of getting used to. Instead of putting them on your brush, you break up the pellets by chewing them lightly before you brush. And because they’re SLS-free, they don’t foam up nearly so much as conventional pastes. Nor do any of them seem to have an especially strong after-flavor – which may seem weird if you rely on that tingly, minty, cool feeling after brushing to signal “clean.” Yet your mouth in fact feels very clean, thanks to some surprising flavor combinations – wasabi and peppermint? black pepper and lemon? – and a nice level of abrasion, which is, as we’ve noted before, the main thing you need from a toothpaste. That and the mechanical action of brushing are what break up the biofilm (plaque) that builds up between cleanings.

Other things we like about the product: It’s already portioned, so you don’t overuse it; and it comes in minimal, recyclable packaging, so there’s less environmental waste, as well. The compact packaging also makes Toothy Tabs great for travel.

Our consensus favorite is probably the very Lushily but inaptly named Dirty, which is actually quite minty and clean tasting. The fennel, vanilla and sandalwood blend of Breath of God is also refreshing.

Any of them, though, would be a fine part of your daily home hygiene.

Top image by rosefirerising, via Flickr

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11 Reads: How Sleep Impacts Your Health

sleeping womanSleep may no longer be, as Dr. Ellen Hughes once put it, “the forgotten key to health and wellness,” at least not among researchers. Through recent years, there have been quite a few interesting studies on the impact of sleep quantity and quality (and the lack of it!) on health.

Here’s a round-up of the 11 most interesting items we’ve run across over just the past year or so – items that may also serve as good inspiration for making the changes you need to ensure you routinely get enough sleep:

  1. Do You Sleep Binge on Weekends? (dna)
  2. Skimping on Sleep Can Stress Body & Brain (NPR)
  3. Why Being Sleep Deprived Is NOT a Sign of Productivity (Mercola.com)
  4. Why Older Adults Should Aim for 8 Hours of Sleep (Futurity)
  5. It’s About Time: Disrupted Internal Clocks Play Role in Disease (ScienceDaily)
  6. Brains Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During SLeep (NPR)
  7. Insomnia: Sleep Loss Causes Brain Vulnerability to Toxic Elements (ScienceDaily)
  8. A Good Night’s Sleep Increases the Cardiovascular Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle (ScienceDaily)
  9. New Biological Links Between Sleep Deprivation & the Immune System Discovered (MedicalXpress)
  10. The Importance of Sleep & the Hazards of “Dream Deprivation” (Mercola.com)

Image by RelaxingMusic, via Flickr

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Oral Health Benefits of Green Tea (Guest Post)

Thank you to Pride Dental for letting us share this post
from their office blog. View original post.

1444269150_39190ed788_b-300x225Green tea mouthwash may help ease pain caused by the swelling of oral tissue. That’s according to a small but promising study published last month in the International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

The research involved 97 participants suffering from acute pericornitis, a condition in which the gum tissue around erupting or impacted wisdom teeth becomes infected and swollen. Two of the major symptoms are pain and difficulty opening the mouth.

After having their teeth cleaned, participants were told to either use chlorhexidine mouthwash (a common antiseptic) or a 5% green tea mouthwash for seven days. Evaluating each for changes in pain and jaw mobility, the authors found that those who used the green tea rinse had less pain than those in the control group, while also showing improved jaw mobility. Their conclusion?

Green tea mouthwash could be an appropriate and effective choice for the control of pain and trismus [limited mouth opening] in acute pericoronitis.

This is far from the only study suggesting green tea’s oral health benefits. A paper published earlier this year in Geriatrics and Gerontology International summed up some key benefits:

Green tea, a time-honoured Chinese herb, might be regarded as a functional food because of its inherent anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antimutagenic properties. They are attributed to its reservoir of polyphenols, particularly the catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate. Owing to these beneficial actions, this traditional beverage was used in the management of chronic systemic diseases including cancer. Recently, it has been emphasized that the host immuno-inflammatory reactions destroy the oral tissues to a greater extent than the microbial activity alone. Green tea with its wide spectrum of activities could be a healthy alternative for controlling these damaging reactions seen in oral diseases, specifically, chronic periodontitis, dental caries and oral cancer, which are a common occurrence in the elderly population.

And a meta-analysis published that same month in Oral Oncology concurred that green tea may aid in protecting against oral cancers.

Green tea can be found as an ingredient in a variety of products, but enjoying a simple cup of green tea (while reading this blog, of course!) may be the most relaxing. To make sure you are getting the most out of it, WebMD makes the following suggestions:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. It’s bad for catechins, those healthy chemicals, in the tea. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the catechins a easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb them.
  • Nutrient levels in green tea can vary. Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks generally have less.

Of course, green tea is hardly the only herbal ingredient good for your oral health. For instance, another study from earlier this year found that an Ayurvedic herbal rinse was “effective in treatment of plaque induced gingivitis and can be effectively used as an adjunct to mechanical therapy with lesser side-effects.” This particular blend included Pilu, Bibhitaka, Nagavalli, Gandhapura taila, Ela, Peppermint satva, and Yavani satva.

The benefits of herbal mouthwashes change depending on the ingredients, but some of the common ones you’ll find include sage, peppermint, licorice root, clove, cinnamon lemongrass and eucalyptus, among many others.

Image by Toby Oxborrow, via Flickr

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On the Latest “Is Organic Healthier?” Research

Occasionally, we write about research findings that seem counter-intuitive or just too good to be true or otherwise just a little “off” – findings that often seem a little suspect due to their being funded by industry. (See this and this and this and this, for instance.)

organic produceLast week on her Food Politics blog, Marion Nestle sounded a similar note of caution about the latest study to show “clear differences” between organic and conventionally grown food. This study – a very large meta-analysis – found that organics have more antioxidants, less pesticide residue and less cadmium than conventionally raised crops.

It was also, notes Nestle, funded by an organization with a stake in the game: the Sheepdrove Trust, which “supports initiatives which increase sustainability, biodiversity and organic farming, for example research into organic seed production and nutrition.”

“This study,” Nestle writes,

is another example of how the outcome of sponsored research invariably favors the sponsor’s interests. The paper says “the Trust had no influence on the design and management of the research project and the preparation of publications from the project,” but that’s exactly studies funded by Coca-Cola say. It’s an amazing coincidence how the results of sponsored studies almost invariably favor the sponsor’s interests. And that’s true of results I like just as it is of results that I don’t like.

It’s an important reminder. “Following the money” isn’t just for those corporations or organizations you disagree with. A conflict of interest is a conflict of interest. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the results of industry funding studies are not to be believed. Even critics of the new study note that the differences between organic and conventional are real. How meaningful they are is just one possible point of contention. (Nestle mentions some others in her post.)

It means the proverbial grain of salt is called for.

All that aside, opting for organics is about more than nutrient composition or density. It’s about reducing pesticide exposure. It’s about supporting sustainability and environmental stewardship. When combined with eating locally, it’s about supporting small scale farmers and local economies. When you grow your own, it’s a way to connect with the soil, the Earth; to honor our connection with nature.

These are key benefits, too, for both our health and well-being.

For more on the current state of the research on organic vs. conventional – and the debates that swirl around it – see this excellent article at Vox.

Image by Jeff Kraus, via Flickr

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What You Need to Know about Cavitations

Your teeth are attached to bone by connective tissue called the periodontal ligament. If you have a tooth extracted, this ligament needs to be removed, too, along with about 2 mm of the surrounding alveolar bone – the bony ridge containing the tooth socket. If this isn’t done, any pathogenic microbes (disease-causing “germs”) present will be effectively sealed into the jaw once new tissues grow over the socket. Those microbes are free to proliferate. Healthy tissues die and decay – a process that creates even more toxins. (Not to be gross, but if you think here of a putrefying corpse being gobbled by bacteria and vermin, you’ll be thinking of a similar process.)

open_cavitationThe end result? Holes in the jawbone: osteonecrotic cavitational lesions, or “cavitations,” for short.

Because these infected, decaying areas still have access to the blood supply and the body’s basic regulative system, the toxins may enter the body’s general circulation, free to infect other organs, generating disease and dysfunction. Brain health is of special concern, since the organ is so close to the mouth – just inches away. When neurotoxins exit into the bone, it’s not far to the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain. There and over time, they contribute to a variety of neurological illnesses, just as toxins affecting other organs and polluting the terrain contribute to other forms of systemic illness.

Illnesses that have been linked to cavitations include cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS), lupus and other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Cavitations can follow even routine and seemingly “successful” dental surgery. If the bone isn’t cleaned nor the periodontal ligament fully removed; if the tooth is just removed and the tissue flap, sutured shut, a cavitational lesion may remain in the bone. Outcomes can be worse if several wisdom teeth are removed during the same appointment – especially if the patient’s biological terrain is disordered and polluted. (The terrain is your body’s internal environment, and its condition determines whether and how illness and dysfunction will manifest in the body.)

Notice in this clip how no attempt made to remove the ligament or clean the bone once the tooth has been pulled.

Suffice it to say, when oral surgery is required, it’s key to have a surgeon who is aware of the potential for cavitations and so will clean and treat the surgical site thoroughly.

Visit our website for materials we recommend for learning more about this topic.

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What You Need to Know about Root Canals & Dental Implants

The Trouble with Root Canals

root_canalEach of your teeth is a vital – that is, living – organ. Like your liver, lungs, kidneys and other organs, teeth sometimes become diseased and fail. In that case, a dentist may recommend root canal treatment, which starts with removing the dentinal pulpal complex – the tooth’s “guts,” so to speak, rich in nerves, blood vessels and delicate connective tissue. After cleaning the chamber, the dentist fills it with a rubbery putty called “gutta percha” and cement sealant – materials that often contain some very toxic elements, such as heavy metals and formaldehyde – and caps the remaining tooth structure with a restoration.

Establishment dentists call this “saving” the tooth, which is odd since, by definition, a root canal tooth is a dead tooth. All the living stuff – what once kept it alive – is gone. But this doesn’t mean that nothing is happening inside. The absence of the pulp has major consequences.

The outer layer of the dental pulpal complex is made of specialized cells called odontoblasts. They exist to create dentin, the tissue situated between the tender pulp and tough outer enamel. A cross-section of dentin shows thousands of microscopic dentinal tubules – anywhere from 30,000 to 75,000 per square millimeter. The odontoblasts – also called dentinoblasts – extend into these tubules, all the way through to the enamel on top and the cementum that covers the root at the bottom.

In a living tooth, the protein processes of these cells are continually bathed in intracellular fluid – dentinal lymph – from the pulp. When a dentist removes the pulp, however, they’re severed and remain within the dentinal tubules. Because there’s no longer any blood supply to them, they undergo necrosis – that is, they die and decay, just like the flesh of a putrefying corpse. The local biological terrain changes, and the microbes respond by degenerating into viruses, fungi, parasites and other pathological microbiota (i.e, “bad bugs”). Over time, their toxic metabolic waste migrates through the tubules and into the cementum, periodontal ligament and bone. From there, it finds its way into the general circulation, free to infect other organs.

Brain health is of special concern, since the organ is so close to the mouth – just inches away. When neurotoxins exit into the bone, it’s not far to the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain. There and over time, they contribute to a variety of neurological illnesses, just as toxins affecting other organs and polluting the terrain contribute to other forms of systemic illness.

Because of all this, a root canal tooth is always considered infected and often toxic. Research by dental materials expert Dr. Boyd Haley – professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Kentucky – has shown that more than 90% of all root canal teeth are riddled with pathogens and their toxic byproducts.

Read the accompanying article by Hal Huggins, “How a Root Canal Can Affect Your Health.”

The Trouble with Dental Implants

One alternative to root canal treatment is extraction. But what to replace the tooth with? If the adjacent teeth are healthy, a bridge is possible. In other cases, a dentist may suggest an implant – placing a titanium or ceramic rod to the jawbone and screwing a restoration onto it.

implant_2_PDDental implants can cause their own problems. For one, they create an immune response, such as suppressing the T-cell count. Biological Terrain Analysis (BTA) shows remarkable adverse changes in the rH2 values – a measure of oxidative stress. When these values are high, as we typically see in clients with implants, both cell and biological terrain functions take a hit. Nutrient uptake is inhibited, as is the delivery of hormone and energetic information. The body’s natural energy state is disturbed.

Lodging an implant into the jaw creates a scenario similar to what happens when you skip a flat stone across the surface of a lake. Think about how the ripples grow smaller and fainter as they continue across the lake and then bounce back. They may be too faint for us to observe with the naked eye, but the effect persists. This is a form of energetic resonance. Likewise, when an implant is placed, there is bioresonance through the extracellular fluid.

Implants also create disturbances along the meridians on which they’re placed. Meridians are your body’s energetic pathways, connecting multiple organs and bodily structures. Disturbances or blockages in one area can affect the other organs on the same meridian, setting the stage for illness or dysfunction at sites far from the mouth. Disturbances caused by implants may be worsened if other metals – such as mercury amalgam “silver” fillings – are present, due to the creation of galvanic currents.

Illnesses that have been linked to focal infection and implants include cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS), lupus and other inflammatory conditions.

It’s been demonstrated that implanted devices produce non-random repetitive energy waves that produce harmful biological effects. This disruption may change things such as cell and matrix signaling pathways, the permeability of ion-exchange channels and the membrane electric potential. The end result is poor health. By the same token, good, healthy bone that is free of heavy metal, root canals and implants radiates more natural electromagnetic fields (photons). These fields produce mixed wave patterns along meridians with irregular profiles, producing healthy biological systems.

Visit our website to explore the materials we recommend our patients read on these topics.

Each of us is the author of our own health and well-being. So we encourage you to do the research that will help you make good choices for your dental and systemic health – choices appropriate to your wants and needs. For good choices depend on understanding how and why illness arises. This is the basis of truly informed consent.

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Whole Body Illness & Biological Terrain Analysis (BTA)

Regularly, we’re contacted by people who have spent a lot of time and money on dental procedures they believed treated the “root cause” of their systemic illness – mercury amalgam fillings, root canals, cavitations or other sources of focal infection. Some experienced no improvement at all or even got sicker. Others experienced relief for a while before their symptoms came back with a vengeance, sometimes accompanied by new ones. Illness returned full force.

When we first see a client with systemic health issues, we do extensive exams and tests to assess their whole health situation. We need to see the big picture. Consistently, we find that dental factors are often triggers to deeper, more ingrained health issues. (For this reason, “functional organ/system disorders” may be a more accurate term for what ails them.)

For instance, we once saw a client who had three cavitations that he wanted to have treated right away. After our full assessment, though, we advised against it. This surprised and confused both him and his physician. Why would we do this when we know the problems cavitations can cause?

Because, we explained, our evaluation showed more fundamental health issues.

Testing showed that his biological terrain – the body’s internal environment – was very polluted and disordered. For oral surgery and healing to be effective, this had to be addressed first.

For the terrain is what dictates how health and illness manifest. When it’s in good shape, the body functions as designed: as a self-regulating system, with a robust immune response, excretion mechanisms and all else needed to fight off infections, toxins and other insults. Not so when the terrain is disordered. A body can only get sicker, progressing across the stages of Reckeweg’s disease evolution model:

disease evolution table

Click image to see a full size PDF of this chart.

To treat the cavitations without first treating the terrain would be like fixing a broken door on a house that’s burning down.

The tool we use to evaluate the state of a person’s terrain is called Biological Terrain Analysis, or BTA. As Han van de Braak describes it,

Biological Terrain Analysis (BTA) was invented by professor of hydrology Prof Louis-Claude Vincent, whose Bioelectronimètre was first used in France in 1946. His method forces one to take a contextual, broad-spectrum view beyond any chronic symptomatology a patient presents. Vincent found that the defining triad of pH, rH2 (oxidation-reduction potential at the given pH) and Ohms resistance was as equally appropriate to human health as he had found it to be to testing water quality.

Vincent’s research in France – where he established his reference bandwidths – struck a chord with eminent doctors in Germany like Dr.phil. Dr.med. Bach, Dr.med. Reinhold Voll valued technique in Germany used by medical physicians, dentists, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists and naturopathic physicians alike. Since, Vincent’s technique has been adopted in many countries around the world most notably in the USA.

The BTA process itself is simple, quick and noninvasive. Saliva and urine samples are taken, and Vincent’s three bio-markers – pH, rH2 and R – are measured and analyzed by computer. The results show which biological systems are in good shape and which are vulnerable, weakened or compromised. Knowing this, we can provide bioenergetically specific therapies to improve the terrain and thereby support the body’s innate ability to self-regulate.

Only then can the client’s dental issues be successfully addressed and true healing become more than a pipe dream.

Visit our website to explore the materials we recommend all our biological clients read before their first appointment in order to understand the testing we’ll be doing and our eventual recommendations for treatment and healing.

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