In the Rush to Dental Implants as a Solution…

“The dental profession’s rush to dental implants as a solution to dental needs of today’s trusting patients is overstated, overused, ill advised, and very often much abused.”

- Dr. Ron Carlson

Explore our archives to learn more about the issues with dental implants.

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Stat!: Dental Mercury & Informed Consent

Percent of Americans who don’t know that mercury is the main component of “silver” amalgam dental fillings: 57

Percent who are ever told by their dentists that “silver” fillings contain mostly mercury: 11

Percent of Americans who don’t think their dentists give them enough information on alternatives to amalgam to make informed decisions: 66

informed consent definition

Source: “Measurably Misleading,” a special report by Consumers for Dental Choice

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Clickbait, Anyone?

No doubt this was in response to epidemic of kale damage that dentists have been seeing:

headline

Among them, allegedly, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, beans, nuts and granola (which isn’t usually all that “healthy” anyway, but this potential sugar bomb sports an incredible health halo).

Seriously, the tips that accompany the piece are fine. But they have nothing to do with the healthfulness of any given food – or the lack thereof. In fact, the food has little to do with it. It’s how you eat it – and how you take care of your teeth.

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Mouthguards Do More Than Just Protect Teeth

Post-snowboarding teeth that weren't protected with a mouthguard.

Teeth that weren’t protected with a mouthguard.

There are good reasons why you don’t want to go with an over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguard to protect teeth during contact sports. They tend not to fit as well, are less comfortable and are significantly less effective than custom-fit guards.

And protecting the teeth is only one of the things they do.

The point is pounded home by research published earlier this summer in General Dentistry. The study involved over 400 high school football players who were assigned either custom mouthguards or standard, OTC devices.

2804974448_99de6be57d_zThose who wore the OTC guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild concussions than those wearing properly fitted guards.

Of course,

Many variables contribute to MTBI/concussion injuries, and mouthguards — whose primary function is protecting the teeth — cannot completely prevent them from occurring. Previous studies have theorized that mouthguards can reduce concussion risk, however, because they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw.

Mouthguard thickness also has been shown to be a factor that contributes to the level of protection. The average thickness of the custom-made mouthguards in this study was 3.50 millimeters, while the average thickness of the OTC mouthguards was only 1.65 millimeters.

Lead author Jackson Winters, a pediatric dentist, summed up the issue quite well in the AGD’s press release on the study:

The benefits of protecting your child far outweigh the costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is likelier to occur with a store-bought model.

Like any preventive measure, it’s an investment in health now to reduce the need for much greater, less manageable costs down the road.

Images by Courtenay & Nick Koch Weller, via Flickr

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Recommended Reading: Our Weird Faith in Pills

pill_nationThere’s a fascinating read in the latest Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine exploring our society’s beliefs about pharmaceutical drugs and how those beliefs can distract and detract from health and well-being. Though it sometimes gets a little “academic” – how could it not when you bring up the work of French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty? – on the whole, it’s an accessible and thought-provoking piece, worth your time.

The gist of it:

Twenty-first century medical practice has many salient features: its use of high-tech diagnostics, for example, and of surgical interventions. Nonetheless, the genius and potency made accessible by modern medicine, as well as its more alienating qualities, are most iconically captured by the diminutive pill and the enormous industry is subtends. We say “take your medicine,” referring to a pill. Yet when we swallow it we also “take our medicine” in the broader sense, swallowing the modern paradigm of disease and treatment.

* * *

The cultural fantasy surrounding the pill as the solution for life’s ills can thus contribute in a wide variety of ways to social and physical ills. It also distracts us from more holistic approaches to disease causation, prevention, and treatment. The miniaturized pill implies a highly localized problem and solution confined to an individual body. The ideal “magic bullet” targets a single organ or biochemical process. But other than certain infections where the body is invaded by a single organism that can be eradicated, the true site of illness and healing are rarely “local” in this way – they unfold in the complex interactions of self and world. Focused on the pill, we may neglect social and spiritual issues and lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, intoxicants, and work that ma be the source of man of our mood and physical disorders. In fact, pill reliance in our modern cultural fantasy can justify not attended to needed changes. Greene invokes “the image of the overfed, underexercised American consumer who takes a statin with his cheeseburger. The cure of the latter-day ailments of excess consumption lies, cleverly, no in limiting consumption but in consuming additional products.

Leder D, Krucoff MW. “Take your pill”: The role and fantasy of pills in modern medicine. J Alt Compl Med. 2014; 20(6): 421-27. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0447

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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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