To Louisville and Back

Barbara Tritz
· July 29, 2019 ·

9 minutes

What a summer! I so enjoyed my fabulous trip to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the American Dental Hygiene Association’s annual conference. I was honored to be awarded the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician award. I attended many interesting and educational continuing education courses and had lots of fun after hours meeting interesting dental hygienists. As I take these classes, I am always thinking about how I can immediately implement what I hear and learn as well as share with you! Here are the highlights of the newest information and health tidbits.

Goal Setting

What better place to begin than with setting goals!? The bottom line is: write them down! Be accountable to yourself. Think about your passions and what you want to achieve. For me, I am looking at how I can make a positive difference in the world of dental hygiene. After I finish this blog post, I plan to write up a proposal to do not one but two presentations at next year’s dental hygiene conference. That would be a big stretch for me but after seeing and hearing many courses, I know I have much to share with my fellow hygienists.

Body Care

Next course was on ergonomics and body health. Bottom line: It’s time to get up and move-it, move-it, move-it!

Sitting IS THE NEW SMOKING! We are literally sitting ourselves to death. Not exercising increases your risk of depression by 99%. No wonder I get squirrely after a day of work. I need to move and walk. Sitting reduces circulation AND increases your risk level for both osteoporosis and cancer. It increases your blood sugar, makes muscles weak and tight, and decreases circulation. Lack of movement can be the cause of sensory-motor dysfunction and chronic pain. So, get up and move your body!

Dental Hygienists: if you don’t already- get yourself some loups and a light. They are a critical component for a healthy neck, back, and shoulders. That’s the best way to take care of your body and ensure a long career. I spoke with some educators and they commented that they are teaching because their bodies are “broken” from years of dental hygiene practice. Good posture and proper form are critical. Loups and a head light make a big difference. Take care of your body. Bad habits have a way of catching up with you. Good posture is so very important, in all careers.

De Gut Strikes Again!

I love learning new stuff and this course was a biggie for me! While I know lots about teeth, gums, and airway, all this gut dysbiosis stuff is still new to me. AND! just so ya know, it’s all about the gut. I keep coming back to gut health as the crux of almost all health problems. What we put in our stomach and how well we chew what we put in out stomach all matters.

Your gut is full of bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Not all of them are bad bugs, most are helping you. They all affect your genes. As I mentioned in a previous post, genes can be altered, for good or bad. You have control over your genes. Here’s the key point: Five to 10% of your genes determine disease. The rest of your genes are influenced by your lifestyle. We can switch genes on and off. This is called epigenetics. We control our destiny by what we eat! Garbage in=garbage out.

The cool thing I learned was that we can make changes very quickly. Every time we eat, it changes the microbiome. The gut lining is one cell thick, it’s rather like cheesecloth. If food or bacteria pass through this cheesecloth lining, the body can’t recognize it and these foreign bodies cause inflammation. This is called “gut dysbiosis” or leaky gut. I have written about this before (click here).

What I did not know was this inflammation affects the Vagus nerve. That’s important because the Vagus nerve then tells your proton pump to release stomach acid. The problem starts because we don’t chew our food well enough. The stomach can’t break it down. Chew your food thoroughly- 25 times! It MUST be soupy before you swallow it. Your stomach is good at breaking food down but not that good. Most folks seem to chew their food about six times, then swallow. THat’s called chunking your food. Help out your gut and your health a lot by chewing correctly and thoroughly. CHEW IT!

Your Leaking Gut

Seventy percent of the immune system is in the gut. Every single chronic disease is attached to the gut!

If you have gut dysbiosis/leaky gut then you will also have a leaky brain. Let me repeat that: If you have leaky gut you have leaky brain. Leaky brain is part of cognitive dysfunction (dementia) as well as depression and psychiatric disorders. Then there’s the gut’s connection to multiple sclerosis (the most common disabling neurological condition in the world. It is estimated that 2.5 million people are affected each year). Leaky gut creates chronic inflammation throughout the body, and results in autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Diabetes, Spondylosis, Psoriasis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome , and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS is also a gut-permeability problem. One in three people will develop an autoimmune disease.

Obesity is also a gut dysfunction! Research is saying there may be a fungal overgrowth. Cravings for certain food may well be driven by bad bacteria. This changes the gut creating leaky gut, changing the microbiome and starts putting on weight. Like I said, it all starts in the gut. It rules everything!

Eating the SAD Way

The standard American diet- aptly called the SAD diet – is to blame. It is an inflammatory diet. Pizza, cakes, breads, cereals, instant noodles, bottled dressings, and of course soft drinks and sauces all have ingredients that our guts cannot digest.

Then there’s something called “skinny fat“. Forty percent of people are of normal weight and look fine on the outside but inside their body, it’s another story. They, too, suffer from leaky gut and down the road could have an autoimmune disease.

Got “tummy problems”? The culprit may be gluten. Gluten is indigestible and impacts those even with no diagnosed sensitivity. It causes inflammation in the intestine, and a vitamin B deficiency. This then results in malabsorption.

The bacteria, and pathogens, as well as partially digested food particles that get into the bloodstream due to the gut permeability became toxic and take over, creating this chronic inflammation. It’s now hard for me to look at a cookie or dessert and think yum when I know it’s actually a poison in the body. But, who wants to celebrate with carrot and celery sticks? Gotta work this one out!

To Health

In order to have a healthy gut, you must make lifestyle changes for at least three to six months. It is vital to reduce your toxic load. Sugar feeds cancer cells and fuels candida. Eliminate gluten. Yes, I know how hard that one is. I LOVE good bread. Also, consider eliminating grain products, pasteurized milk products, over-processed vegetable and seed oils, partially hydrogenated fats and hydrogenated fats, processed foods containing preservatives, emulsifiers, chemicals and unhealthy fats.

So, what’s left to eat? Omega/3 fatty acids (healthy fish), Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and vitamin D foods such as pasteurized eggs, shitakie mushrooms, fiber from fruits and vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds and (thank goodness) dark chocolate. I just purchased an anti inflammatory cookbook for more guidance.

It may be helpful to keep a food journal (there are so many apps!). Write down your reaction to foods, and be aware of your mood, and how you feel with certain foods. Monitor your blood sugar. It should be in the 80 range.

Diet changes won’t be easy- the course recommended we remove caffeine, soy, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. The more ingredients, the more processed the food. If you can’t read it, don’t eat it. Sugar is evil, so sorry to say. There are 56 different names for it. Disguising it doesn’t make it healthier.

The thing that’s rockin’ my world as a dental hygienist/oral wellness coach/periodontal therapist is that leaky gut is also the root cause of gum disease and tooth decay. Dentistry is not paying attention to the gut-oral axis but Dr. Al Danenberg sure is! He’s a periodontist so knows all about gum disease. He’s a hero and mentor of mine. He wrote the book Crazy Good Living which I highly recommend. Dr. Al has an entire protocol to restore the gut to health – including the above recommendations and plus other supplements. It’s a more involved process than I can get into here. We’ll be incorporating it into Green City Dental’s gum therapy and tooth decay prevention programs. Treating only the teeth or gums will NOT fix the root cause of the problem. The dental world needs to look beyond the mouth, work with other health providers to really and truly conquer dental diseases. The mouth constantly reseeds the gut. So, a healthy mouth is vital to overall systemic health. Back to garbage in, garbage out.

Do I Have Leaky Gut?


Test for leaky gut. There is a company called Viome that has a leaky gut test and I plan on exploring that more. It’s encouraging to have so many new products to help and guide us both as clinicians and as patients. Problem is at the grocery store – so many choices, and old habits to overcome. We need healthier food, and better eating habits. It’s certainly easier to grab a snack and munch on processed foods. The words “mindful eating” mean more now than ever.

I had thought leaky gut was not an issue for me but I was wrong. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some arthritis in my knee. Just a little research convinced me it’s related to my diet, which was contributing greatly to my stiffness and pain. It truly is time to eat an anti inflammatory diet if I want to stay healthy, which, of course, I do! So:

My Personal Plan

It can be overwhelming to think about changing completely to another way of eating and living.

My plan is to invest more time in farmers markets and learn how to cook and eat in a more healthful way. I also will change some habits, such as include a fruit and or more veggies with every meal. I will limit my carbohydrates to once a day, and eliminate sugar from my world. Yes, no more sugar, Period, cold Turkey! (and yes, I know carbs turn into simple sugars. I want to include complex carbs, not simple carbs.) I plan on taking that leaky gut test, and then adding Dr. Al’s gut restoring protocols to regimen. Not easy tasks but it’s a start. I will let you know how it goes. I’ll report back in three months. (So, I have set a goal, written it down and will now be accountable. I have to say, that felt good!)

It’ll take a foodie revolution to really address our health and change us from a country of chronic illness to one of health. It does start in the gut!

Play Time

It was certainly not all nose to the grindstone though! I had so much fun! I won a Bourbon cookbook (everything in moderation…) and met the author, found a huge photo of myself with my award information, met new friends, saw old friends, danced, laughed, and chatted, did lots of walking around beautiful Louisville, had a blast at the President’s Dinner and enjoyed the award ceremony with other award recipients. What an honor to be part of such a wonderful group of ladies and gentlemen. Being on stage at incredibly beautiful Louisville Palace receiving my award for Master Clinician was beyond my wildest dreams. Sharing my love of dental hygiene with my fellow hygienists – priceless!

My passion for oral health and wellness has led me down a delightfully fun path to so many adventures and wonderful people with all the same passions and goals. Know your dental health professionals are dedicated to helping you be healthy. They are a hard working, dedicated group of professionals. I’m so proud to be a part of these fine ladies and gentlemen.

Fellow hygienists, come join me in New Orleans for the 2020 ADHA conference. Together, we can make dental hygiene the true start of a health revolution!

Til next time,

Keep smiling!


Master Clinician and Happiest Hygienist (and new foodie!)

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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