Thoughts on Inflammation and Systemic Illnesses
Growing up I heard that when we get old, we will get sick and crippled. Today, I believe that if we fail at maintaining our physical, mental, and oral health these debilitating things will happen. So often being old has been the explanation to many ailments and conditions. It's like saying, "We don't know, let's just blame old age." Since practicing dental I have come to see that old age is not the main cause. I have watched the age at which patients develop diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and even cancer plummet lower and lower. I have seen patients in their mid 20s with high blood pressure, diabetes and even arthritis. It's because their parents had it, many say. I beg to differ. The plaque/tartar buildup, diet and dental care these patients maintain seems to be a glaring factor. I have seen that dietary options and dental routines are also hereditary. Sugar once was a luxury. Today, sugar is a common ingredient that is often in foods and products we would never expect. Did you know sugar is in many salad dressings?! Sugar aka sorbitol is also an ingredient in many over the counter toothpastes and mouth rinses. (Click here for natural, homemade toothpaste and rinse recipes) When I eat something sugary, I can feel a film develop and a stickiness persist, even a funky smell sometimes. This just adds to the buildup that stays on the hard surfaces of our mouth, the teeth. Buildup aka biofilm is a magnet for food, minerals, bacteria and other debris. As these materials build up it turns into the white soft stuff called plaque. And this is just another breeding ground for bacteria that causes inflammation. (Click here to read, Why Do my Gums Bleed?)
I heard a dentist recently state that they are seeing a rise in diseases/conditions like Hashimoto's disease (a form of hypothyroidism) being diagnosed in patients. Could the hormones in our foods be throwing off our thyroid gland (master hormone controller of our body)? Could the inflammation and the acidic pH of chronic inflammation be making our system go haywire? In my career, I worked from Arlington all the way down to Fredericksburg and came into the belief that everyone would either develop high blood pressure, thyroid disease or both together. Regardless of race, sex, socioeconomic status I truly thought that we would all get sick eventually. Until I worked in a community they call Old Town Alexandria. My patients were in their 60s to 90s. They were generally very well off in the wealth department and very educated. The medication and diseases in this population was remarkably low. It was rare that these older patients had missing teeth or periodontal disease.
What was so special about these patients? Did they have a special ability to skirt the grip of disease? It is in my belief that with their education and access to dental care, regular walks/exercise, healthier diets and use of peroxide and baking soda gifted them with impeccable medical histories. These patients flossed regularly and avoided the new type of floss tapes aka Glide or Satin Care. They would exclaim, "That floss doesn't feel like it's doing anything!" I dived deeper in conversation with these patients and discovered their daily routines.
One major factor I considered was exercise. Most of us are familiar with the blood pumping, sweat inducing labor of exercise. When our heart rate goes up, consider the flushing effect this has in our system. Toxins flow out via sweat. Plaques in our blood vessels flush away to be eliminated from our body. A patient that was a nurse said that someone that exercises 3 times a week and someone that is sedentary everyday will have the same chance of developing a systemic disease like high blood pressure. And a person that takes a 5-10 min walk throughout everyday will lower their chances in developing diseases like high blood pressure. The nurse patient also told me that the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol has a major impact on our health as well. He said that a person who is not stressed eats 1 pound of chocolate will not gain any weight. And a person who is chronically stressed can eat 1 bar of chocolate and gain 10 lbs. Stress will put our body into a survival state. Stress is a factor of fight or flight. To be constantly in that state is making us sick. This important bodily function is meant to be only triggered when we need to get out of a dangerous situation. It's making our bodies turn against itself and there are so many systemic, mental and auto immune diseases that are wreaking havoc in our society. It is shown that regular aerobic exercise releases the good feeling hormones and makes us feel happier and calmer. I have read that it is proven that aerobic exercise is more effective than prescription drugs that many times have detrimental side effects.
There are so many things today that didn't exist when I was growing up. Cellphones, social media, hoards of streaming programs, cheaper junkier foods and more expensive healthy foods. We have more jobs that confine us to desks and computer screens and render us immobile and moving very minimally. I laugh fondly when I heard of "when I was a child" stories. I realize the days in which I grew up with cassette tapes, boom boxes, pay phones, and slower times is fading away into a fast paced society that is becoming unfocused on smelling the roses. However, with the changing of times also provides a positive. This website for me to share my thoughts on the mental research I am performing every day I clean mouths. Thank you for reading and please share the knowledge. Together, I believe we can make a difference.