by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
I sometimes receive interesting browsing links from people who know I pen a column centered on Internet browsing. This month I have been offered suggestions from colleagues, friends, and even patients wanting to share with all of you the things they find search-worthy.
A big concern in dental, and overall, health is that of low pH foods and drinks that create an acidic environment. Demineralization is given a boost by so many diets filled with items low on the pH scale. In our practice we even give out a list of offending foods and fluids to those prone to caries, tooth sensitivity, and other oral health conditions aggravated by acidic intake. Stepping on a patient's favorite snack or beverage is not always met with a friendly smile though, and I often wonder if the advice falls on deaf ears. This question was answered recently when a patient brought in a link for Heed Energy Drink and asked whether substituting it for sugar-filled sports drinks would be beneficial.
Heed Sports Drink from Hammer Nutrition1 delivers the athletes' desired benefits without sugars or other acid-producing ingredients. The drink is sweetened with stevia and xylitol, which the site notes as good for oral health. On the "related articles" tab of the Heed Sports Drink site is a link to an article by Nancy Appleton, PhD – 146 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health2. While all 146 reasons are important nutritional tidbits to share, numbers 21, 34, and 36 deal directly with oral health. This is a link I plan to share often in nutritional discussions.
Other articles by Lory Laughter
Recently, Facebook and my inbox were flooded with a study suggesting a link between Alzheimer's and periodontal disease. Article titles such as Alzheimer's Disease May Originate in Your Mouth and Studies Find Gum Disease in the Brains of Alzheimer's Patients led readers to believe this was a proven link. The link provided to me most often3 is titled Bacteria that Cause Gum Disease Linked to Alzheimer's.
The referenced study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease4 sought to discover if periodontal pathogens were present in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. In four Alzheimer's-positive brains studied, Porphyromonas gingivalis was present; while 10 brains from patients who did not have Alzheimer's were free of periodontal pathogens. The study also showed six patients with Alzheimer's did not have the bacteria in their brains. This is an interesting topic deserving of more research, but not the hard hitting evidence suggested by some.
Raisins get a bad rap in my opinion; therefore, an early morning find on PubMed brought a smile5. It's not a new study by any means, but a boast on the goodness of raisins. As noted in the study, children between the ages of seven and 11 who consumed raisins did not demonstrate a plaque pH below six. Grape seed extract shows a positive effect on demineralization in vitro – more promising potential for a favorite snack. Even when consumed with bran flakes, raisins did not cause a significant drop in oral pH. Of course, it is best to not add sugar to such cereals, as noted in the study. Though further studies are needed, I will be putting raisins in Halloween bags at my door.
I have spent the last two years consciously adjusting things in my world to create a healthier lifestyle. Eliminating all soda and carbonated drinks, not buying bread or bakery items for my home, and increasing my water intake were not always easy, but were relatively simple changes to implement. One indulgence I have not been successful in conquering is my daily Starbucks Extra Hot Hot Chocolate. The size has gone from Grande to Tall and the milk from whole to nonfat, but my face is still well known among the baristas.
One very good friend recently shared a link on my Facebook wall supporting my caloric beverage6. The study does specify elderly adults, but I am headed that way, so it's still relevant to my health. If cocoa consumption does, indeed, increase blood flow to the brain, mine should be in great shape, circulation-wise. I especially like the opening line's suggestion that hot chocolate can ward off dementia -- if proven true, I am in for a long life of clear thinking. RDH
Websites referred to in this column
LORY LAUGHTER, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She can be contacted at [email protected]
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