Health & Fitness

By Elizabeth Greene

“Brush and floss your teeth twice a day” is what we’ve grown up listening to during visits to the dentist. And in following those simple and clear orders, we can probably assume that we’ve done a pretty good job, right? Wrong! There is so much more that we can do to improve the health of our mouths and there are even plenty of previously good-actions that we need to edit immediately. “What you put in your mouth can be compared to what type of gas you put in your car” says Dr. Gerald P. Curatola, a pioneer in Rejuvenation Dentistry and a physician for the whole mouth, “and we shouldn’t be fueling up with anything less than Premium.”

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So how do we get smiles that are both gorgeous and healthy? First off, we need to take those old fashioned dental ideas and toss them out the door. Sure we all use toothpaste, but did you know that toothpaste was invented by soap makers over 100 years ago? Fluoride was added in the 1950s but it still needs a makeover to bring it up to date in our modern and more educated world. We’ve also been taught that all plaque is bad, but in reality, our body needs good oral biofilm, and instead of killing all that bad plaque, we should instead be working to restore it back into a healthy state. That is the true goal when cleaning our teeth – striving for homeostasis, a healthy balance, according to Dr. Curatola.

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“The oral biofilm is essential to live!” says Dr. Curatola. 80% of the United State’s population is affected by gum disease and there is a correlation between it and two of the #1 killers of Americans; heart attack and stroke. It is vital to our health that we restore bad plaque into healthy plaque instead of destroying it, as it protects us from viruses and bacteria that surround us daily.

Dr. Curatola proposes four essential dental must-dos that will lead our mouths to a perfect vision of oral health:

1) Be careful what you swallow. Stop using detergent-based oral products. Eliminate mouthwashes containing alcohol and products with antimicrobial ingredients (ex. triclosan and chlorhexidine). We want to keep that healthy plaque around.

2) Good Eats for Sweet Teeth. The often over-looked aspect of dental health is Dr. Curatola’s Triple-A Nutrition guidelines. Good nutrition promotes the homeostasis that we’re striving for in our mouths and helps to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and other problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes issues and even low-weight premature babies. The Three A’s set the rules for what types of foods should be entering your precious mouths; those that are Anti-inflammatory, Alkalizing and those that are high in Anti-oxidants. Veggies and fruits are always good bets, no matter what.

3) Breath, Run, Repeat – Ah! Relaxation and fitness aren’t just good for your bodies; they also are the last two cornerstones for great teeth. It’s been proven that stress can be evident in your mouth and regular exercise improves circulation and immune responses, fighting off nasty gum disease.

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4) Bleach-Aholics Need not Apply. We live in a society that obsesses about bright, shiny white teeth, so it’s no wonder that whitening products are hugely popular. But did you also know that there has been an increase in oral and pharyngeal cancer that goes along with this popularity? It’s no coincidence. Though the issue is just starting to be analyzed, it’s not a new fact that peroxide is a strong oxidizer which releases thousands of potentially cancer-causing radicals. The “bleach-aholics” out there, as Dr. Curatola likes to call those obsessed with getting their teeth as white as possible, are putting themselves at risk for oral cancer in the process. Dr. Curatola uses a non-peroxide based formula when whitening in his office and protects the gums and rest of the mouth as well. Having teeth so white that they blind the person next to you is definitely not worth the risk of cancer.

We have high-tech cell phones, computers, cars and more, but we need to take one of the most basic and essential activities in life and bring it up to date. Our oral health affects our whole body and isn’t your smile worth the extra effort?

For more information, check out Dr. Curatola’s book Smile For Life.

Originally published September 2007
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