The Queen of Dental Hygiene has been on sabbatical these past few months. I’d written most all of what I knew and had set out to share with you, so I was back to reading and learning again. And boy have I been busy.
My mission is to learn more about oral health. It centers back to what my original goal was when I decided to become a dental hygienist– I wanted to be a healer, to help people to be healthy. Yet, too many of my patients were still getting cavities, and had bleeding and infected gums- even after they did all the recommended homecare and procedures. So, my new goal was to find out “why”- why were their gums still infected, why were they still getting cavities??
I’ve learned much on this journey, but there’s still more to know! Here’s an update:
The dreaded cavity- (Everyone is relieved if I tell them they have no new cavities.) Tooth decay (as we have discussed
) is a pH disease- when the pH of your mouth falls below 5.5 the minerals flow out of your teeth, and that makes your tooth weak and chalky. That’s the beginning of a “cavity”. In my office, the protocol is to use Carifree treatment kits, assess and change high risk decay producing behavior, reduce snacking and raise the pH with xylitol, rinses, gels, and baking soda water swishes. Then we put minerals back in the teeth with Basic Bites, MI Paste, and fluoride. All good and useful procedures. However, sometimes I’d go to check the pH of someone’s saliva, and it would still be below 5.5. Hmmm… No plaque, great homecare and doing everything prescribed yet still a new cavity! Then I read a book (love reading and problem solving!) called The Chronic Cough Enigma by Dr. Jamie Koufman
. This book discusses silent acid reflux and its effect on the throat, esophagus, and the mouth. Bingo! A source of the low pH and further tooth decay. I did not realize how powerful and destructive that stomach acid really is, wrecking havoc on other body parts.
Those “divets” are called acid wear facets and are from acid reflux
It was an “ah ha” moment when I saw the connection between chronic throat clearing, coughing, mouth-breathing, post nasal drip, tooth decay, and silent reflux. Yikes- I see those symptoms as well as acid-wear facets on the tops of my patients’ teeth all the time- even in younger folks. They actually are a red flag signalling trouble ahead.
What to do to raise your pH and make your mouth healthy again? Besides visiting Dr. Koufman and reading her books and website- (all worthwhile things), you can follow her diet advice, raise the head of your bed slightly, and definitely don’t eat within three hours of bedtime. She’s a trailblazing medical professional and I encourage you to read her book!
We all know someone with really bad breath. They go to the dentist, have their teeth cleaned regularly, use a tongue scraper daily, with no decay- yet, WHOAH, is their breath unpleasant. Another ah ha moment- it’s acid reflux caused as well! Yes, it really is from the stomach. That acid reflux is indeed a real stinker!
How to fix that? She had some recommendations in her book, and since I’m not an laryngologist I’ll just direct you there. Email me if you need further info!
Burning Tongue and Throat:
This occurs most often in women and gets blamed on hormones, vitamin deficiency, and stress, and had no real cure– that dental professionals knew about! Ask anyone with burning mouth or tongue. They’ve been chasing cures for years.
Please let them know it may well be caused by (drum roll…) a virus that damages the vagus nerves!
Dr. Koufman really enlightened me here too. Acid reflux and a virus can damage the nerves- she has termed this “post-viral vagal neuropathy (PVVN)” Page 17 of her book goes into greater detail. She also has medicine she prescribes that’ll heal and reverse this! If you have burning tongue I am sure you find it most unpleasant, and to finally find a cure is a EUREKA moment for both of us! Chapter three of her book goes into those details. I’m not a doctor, so do read what she has to say, and bring it to your MD or, go see Dr. Koufman.
I get no kick backs from her. I just really like that finally someone has some good information I can use and share with you on fixing tooth decay, bad breath and burning throat/tongue. And they are not dentists! None of my dental journals (and I read a lot) ever discussed acid reflux as the cause/culprit in these illnesses. Dr. Koufman saw a problem, and found solutions for her patients. She’s a one of a kind in her field, truly a trailblazer.
A trailblazing innovator I had the pleasure to meet is a lady named Judy Carroll. Judy’s an incredible dental hygienist that got tired of unhealthy dental patients and found a better way to help them heal. She developed her own unique business, Perio Peak, within dentistry that uses a small camera under the gumline to actually see the tartar that’s causing gum infections. If she can see it, she can remove it, and believe me she sees it all! She then puts special medicine in there and takes that infected pus-filled, periodontally-involved pocket and almost like magic, heals it. (There is a lot more to it.) No surgery, no cutting, just allowing the body to do what it wants to do- make you healthy. She takes “total body dentistry” to the next level. She teams with DDS’s, MD’s, ND’s, and nutritionists to put together a plan to have you be your healthiest best self.
Judy has worked very hard to learn and develop her winning system – Everything she does is within the scope of the Dental Hygiene Practice Act, all legal and very well researched and documented. Folks fly in from all around the world to see her (really!) and have her save their teeth. The patient in her chair upon my arrival was from New York. Judy is located in a little town on the Washington State peninsula. It takes extra effort to save teeth but her patients appreciate her expertise and success rates. They speak for themselves! I was in awe and so excited to see what’s really possible. No more bleeding gums, no bone loss, and healing- an Ah Ha moment to be sure.
One of these enlightening moments during my visit with Judy was discovering how she looks at the flow of the entire body – she does blood work testing, pathogen testing
, and obtains a genetic profile
. The blood tells a story of what’s happening within the body, pathogens tell what bugs are invading the mouth, and the genes are the crystal ball for future disease. Judy is the detective that pulls it all together.
Total Body Dentistry
You have to have the entire story to have a truly healthy mouth. It can no longer be just drill and fill, or scrape, buff and go. You, as the patient, must be your own patient advocate and find out “why” problems occur and then along with your doctor and/or dental team, find solutions. These are diseases that require what’s called precision medicine
– target risk factors and customize care to each individual person. Look beyond the usual and dig deeper to find the cause(s). Whether it’s flying in to see Dr. Koufman or Judy Carroll, or reading and searching on your own, finding that “why” is vital to your long term health.
Trailblazers- these ladies are essentially going it alone- bucking their establishments, healing their patients and forging ahead. They are an inspiration and a blessing to their fields. They are worth the trip. Think about it- what would you spend to save your teeth and your health?
A trip to either practitioner may cost you in time and money, but if taking care of your gum disease prevents a heart attack or breast cancer -click on the link and check out the new research!, or getting rid of your reflux prevents throat cancer, isn’t it worth every penny?
Next month we’ll talk more about gum disease- why it’s important to consider gum therapy.
Cheers to a healthy 2016.