Thursday, January 12, 2012

Only Floss the Teeth You Want to Keep

F.l.t.r: Brad Chapman, Dr Bernd Weber, Eileen Alexander, Dr. Roy Brewster, Kathleen White, Orlo Coots

We’ve been eating more fruits and vegetables, trying to get enough sleep, exercising more and losing weight, but that’s not all that the “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program is about. When we started the program we also made a commitment to have a medical checkup and to receive regular dental care.

This week, Innkeeper Ilja invited Dr. Roy Brewster and Dr. Bernd Weber of Mountain View Dental in Whitefield, to be our guests and educate us about the importance of good oral health.

Cavities, plaque and tartar buildup, and the loss of teeth as we age all have a tremendous impact on our overall health, but they can be easily prevented by regular dental care and a good diet that limits the amounts of processed foods, sugar and acid-forming foods we consume. The photographs that Dr. Weber used in his Power Point presentation made us cringe, as they showed extreme examples of the decay and tooth loss we could expect if we neglect our teeth. And, as Dr. Weber pointed out -- and the photos showed -- when people don’t have their teeth they age tremendously.

Some studies show that poor dental health is also linked to other health problems, like heart disease and Alzheimer’s, although a person’s lifestyle may also contribute to some diseases.

One of the best things we can do for our teeth, said the dentists, is to reduce or eliminate sugar from our diet. Even though advances in technology during the past 10-20 years indicate that we should have healthier, stronger teeth, said Dr. Brewster, there has been a tremendous increase in cavities, particularly in teens, from the sodas that we drink. We used to drink an 8-ounce soda once in while, but now it’s common for us to consume soda in 16- and 20-ounce cups – and more than once a day. Every time you take a sip of soda, coffee, juice or tea, he said, the demineralization of your teeth begins. It’s actually better to drink your beverage at one sitting, rather than spacing it out over a period of hours, because every time you take a drink of soda, acid erodes your teeth for 20 minutes.

“Sugar is a drug,” he said. “You get decay and you get fat.” Put another way, “sip all day and you get decay.”

Innkeeper Ilja told of her experience at an eco-reserve in Ecuador in the early ‘90s. The hotel hired members of the native population who had previously never eaten sugar, coffee, lemonade or processed food. One day, three months after the native staff members had begun, the hotel ran out of sugar and the employees rioted and refused to work because there was no sugar. “They had become addicted in just that short a period of time,” said Ilja.

Dr. Weber said that he tells parents that when their kids are thirsty they should be offered water instead of juice. “You aren’t being nice to your kids by giving them juice. Once they try sweets, they are always going to want sweets.”

Along with daily brushing and flossing (Remember – floss only the teeth you want to keep!), the dentists recommend rinsing with Listerine or ACT with flouride. Water piks and power toothbrushes are also good dental care tools. And, of course, regular teeth cleaning by a dental hygienist and examination by a dentist contribute to the overall good health of your mouth.

It’s very important, said Dr. Brewster, that as we get older we continue to move our bodies and take care of our teeth. There never comes a time, he said, when we can sit back and say that we’re old enough now that we don’t have to do that. “Stay disciplined for the rest of your lives. You can’t let up,” he said. “Having teeth versus not having teeth gives you six extra years.”

For more information about Dr. Brewster and Dr. Weber and Mountain View Dental and the services they provide, click on

Healthy Snack:
Kathleen prepared this week’s Healthy Snack, a wonderful crunchy granola that she served with both blueberry and Greek yogurt. Delicious!

3 cups oatmeal (not quick-cooking)
1 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup dried fruit (Kathleen used blueberries, cranberries and apricots, but any combination of dried fruits will do; chop if in large pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Pour the maple syrup over the mixture and stir. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Toast in a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Next Week:
After the evening’s presentation, we are all going to be diligent about brushing and flossing, and watching the sugary beverages we consume, as we continue into our 7th week of “Ten Years Younger in 60 Days.” We definitely want to keep our smiles healthy!

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