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Posts for: May, 2012

Smokeless Tobacco Facts and Information

As the term suggests, smokeless tobacco describes a variety of tobacco products that are not smoked by the consumer. These products, which include snuff, dip and chewing tobacco, are less harmful than smoking, but are still extremely hazardous to your health.

1. Smokeless Tobacco Contains Harmful Chemicals

Smokeless tobacco is known to contain 28 carcinogens, including very high levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). TSNAs are known to be some of the most potent carcinogens present in chewing tobacco, snuff and tobacco smoke.

Other cancer-causing substances in smokeless tobacco include:

2. Smokeless Tobacco Products Cause Cancer

People who use dip or chewing tobacco increase their risk of oral cancer by 50% as compared to those who do not use these products; this includes cancer of the lip, tongue, cheek, roof and floor of the mouth, as well as cancer of the larynx.

Smokeless tobacco users also face an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

3. Smokeless Tobacco Is Addictive

Dip and chewing tobacco contain more nicotine that commercially manufactured cigarettes. A typical dose of nicotine in snuff is 3.6 milligrams (mg); in chewing tobacco, the amount of nicotine is closer to 4.5 mg. Compared to an average of 1 to 2 mg of nicotine in a commercially produced cigarette, the difference is significant. And, when used according to package directions, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco is easily absorbed through the lining of the mouth in quantities sufficient to cause addiction.

4. Smokeless Tobacco Causes Gum Disease, Bone Loss, Leukoplakia and Tooth Decay

Smokeless tobacco creates an unhealthy environment in the mouth that leads to a variety of nasty problems. In addition to brown-stained teeth and bad breath, users also face:

  • Permanent gum recession and bone loss where the tobacco rests
  • Leukoplakia, a condition characterized by benign or precancerous lesions on the tongue or inside of the cheeks
  • Tooth decay from the sugar used to enhance the flavor of smokeless tobacco

5. Smokeless Tobacco and Other Health Problems

While the results are inconclusive at this time, researchers are reviewing possible links between smokeless tobacco and heart disease, high blood pressure, the risk of stroke and diabetes.

Smokeless Tobacco and Harm Reduction

Smokeless tobacco is less deadly than cigarette smoking -- there is no disputing that. With over 4000 chemical compounds in cigarette smoke, hundreds of which are known to be poisonous, and dozens that are carcinogenic, smoking is by far the most hazardous form of tobacco use on the planet today.

That said, smokeless tobacco poses serious risks to the user that do not make this class of tobacco product a safe alternative to smoking.

Cigarette smoking is part addiction to nicotine and part habit, born out of many years of associating smoking with every activity we have in our daily lives. Smokers who switch to smokeless tobacco are still addicted to nicotine and still link tobacco to the activities in their lives. Because of this, the risk of a smoking relapse is substantial.

Using harm reduction as a fix for smoking can also be dis-empowering. While a person might think of the switch as a proactive move to improve one's health, they are also telling themselves -- usually on a subconscious level -- that they are not strong enough to quit using tobacco altogether. And to make matters worse, this justification can in turn become a pacifier, causing the user to put quitting tobacco on the back burner indefinitely.

As a smoker who successfully quit following 22 years of being entrenched in nicotine addiction, I can tell you that we all have what it takes to beat nicotine addiction successfully. With the right tools at hand to help us change our relationship with nicotine, freedom is within the grasp of every person who desires it.

Smokeless Tobacco As a Quit Aid

All tobacco products carry the risk of disease and addiction, and as such are not good choices as quit aids.

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), which contain nicotine but none of the other hazardous chemicals present in tobacco products, are a better choice for a nicotine-based quit aid. Even so, NRTs are not without risk. Because these products, which include the nicotine patch, gum, nasal spray, inhaler and nicotine lozenges, do contain nicotine, they all carry the danger of addiction themselves.

That doesn't mean one shouldn't use NRTs, but it does mean that package directions should be followed carefully, and the products weaned off of in the time recommended.

The Bottom Line

Some forms of tobacco are more hazardous than others, but all tobacco products carry risks to the user that include addiction and potentially deadly health issues.

We all deserve freedom from nicotine addiction. Imagine a life that is free of the need to use a drug multiple times a day, day in and day out. If you smoke or use any type of tobacco product, you can quit, and you do have what it takes to do it within you right now.

There are many available resources to help you tap into your own inner strength and resolve to quit smoking. The work it takes to carve out your freedom is small indeed when compared to the benefits you'll enjoy, from improved health to the boost of confidence you'll get from overcoming nicotine addiction.

Dig your feet in and go the distance...you won't regret it.

Yours for Better Dental Health,

Robert G. Berger D.D.S.


If you’re wondering if what you eat can affect your mood then please read this report from Dr. Stephen Chaney.

The standard American diet (S.A.D.) is high in processed foods, fat (especially saturated and trans fats), refined grains, simple sugars, salt and calories. As I've said before, almost anything would be better.

You probably already know that the S.A.D. leads to obesity and a whole host of diseases - including heart disease, cancer and diabetes - just to name a few.

But did you know that the S.A.D. could make you sad?

That statement is based on a study by Akbaralay et al (British Journal of Psychiatry, 195: 408-413, 2009)  in which they looked at the dietary patterns and mental health outcomes of 3486 participants in the Whitehall II Prospective Study.

In case you didn't know it, Whitehall is the central district in London where most of the British government offices are located.

So the 3486 participants in this study were bureaucrats. They were middle aged (average age 55.6 years old) office staff (74% men, 26% women) who spent most of their day sitting and really didn't like their jobs very much. (I made up the part about not liking their jobs, but you get the picture.)

At the beginning of the study the participants were given a 127 item food frequency quiz to fill out.  Interestingly enough, the food preferences of the participants in this study clustered neatly into two
groups.

The diets of the processed foods groups predominantly consisted of sweetened desserts, chocolates, fried foods, processed meats, refined grains and high fat dairy products.

In contrast, the diets of the whole foods group consisted mostly of vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains.

Five years later the study participants were analyzed for depression using a 20 item standardized depression scale.

The results were pretty eye-catching. The processed food group was 58% more likely to suffer from
depression than the whole food group! And this was after correction for age, gender, weight, marital
status, education, employment grade, physical activity, smoking and diseases (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke).

The reasons for this astounding correlation between diet and depression are not clear.

The authors speculated that the diets of the whole food group were likely higher in antioxidants, folic   acid and omega-3 fatty acids than the diets of the processed food group - and studies have suggested that each of these nutrients may protect against depression.

The authors also suggested that it might be an indirect effect. Diets that are high in saturated fats and
refined grains and low in omega-3 fatty acids increase inflammation, and studies have suggested that
inflammation can lead to depression.

The thing for you to remember is that, while we don't know the exact mechanism, it is pretty clear that a
processed food diet can lead to the blues down the road.

And, as the authors pointed out, the processed food diet in this study is pretty close to what most
Americans are eating. So it is safe to say that the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) can make you sad!

So keep your spirits up with a healthy diet.

To Your Health!
Robert G. Berger D.D.S.


 


The other day I read an article titled, “Health-care basics: Spend or save?”  Two of the eight items they mentioned were: dental floss and toothbrushes.  Therefore, it must be time to talk a little about the tools we use for preventative dentistry.  Ever since the mid 1960’s my father (at first) and I have been teaching our patients the proper means to keep their mouths healthy.  If you would like to maintain a healthy mouth please continue reading.

Once your mouth is healthy, all that is necessary to maintain it is the proper brush, floss, and technique.  There are many different toothpastes, mouthwashes, and dental aids available, but if the proper technique is used most of them are not necessary. 

I usually recommend flossing 1st with an unwaxed floss.  This disrupts the plaque, which will be removed later during brushing.  Unwaxed floss is thinner than waxed floss, which allows it go farther up the root surface of the tooth.  It also will unravel, allowing the fibers to pick up the plaque better than waxed floss.  I also inform my patients that if you are wrapping the floss properly you will hear it squeak when the teeth are clean.  This won’t occur if using waxed floss.   

Depending on the health of your gums a soft or extra soft toothbrush should be used.  A medium or hard brush can actually do damage to the tooth surface and gums. 

We have taught our patients for years that dry-brushing will allow you to brush longer and you can remove the plaque better.   Plaque is what causes decay and gum disease.  Removing plaque is the most important reason for brushing. 

Dry-brushing doesn’t mean using a dry toothbrush, but rather it is a method of brushing without toothpaste, not in the bathroom, by feel and not by time.  Next time you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist run your tongue over them and notice how smooth and clean they feel.  This same feeling can be repeated with each brushing.  You really can’t notice this by feel if you have brushed with toothpaste.  You will notice the mint flavor more than the feel! 

If you desire that fresh taste, you can rinse with mouthwash afterwards or place a little toothpaste on a different brush and use it for about 30 seconds. (Use a different brush so the flavor doesn’t stay with the brush that you use for actual cleaning.)

Lastly, if you have difficulty using a manual brush, an electric brush can be used.  We recommend the Rota-dent.  Feel free to call our office to find out why we feel it is best choice.

The method of brushing and flossing that we recommend was developed by a Dr. Charles Bass.  If  you desire more information about the proper way to clean your mouth continue reading to find out about the Bass Technique!”

 

During the Second World War, Dr. Charles C Bass (1875-1975), a medical doctor, developed nylon dental floss as a replacement for silk floss.

Dr. Bass also designed the "Right Kind" multi-tufted toothbrush with tufts that are spaced closely to provide a smooth, narrow, compact and flat brushing plane. Similar toothbrushis still offered today.

Around this time, a Mississippi physician named Charles Cassidy Bass began to suggest that people did not just lose their teeth because they were getting old. He pointed up that if one worked hard to keep the area of the tooth at and below the gum clean and free of germs or bacteria, even the elderly could keep their teeth.

Dr. Bass proposed placing your toothbrush partly on the tooth and partly on the gum with the toothbrush bristles angled toward the gums.  As you vibrated the toothbrush back and forth, the tips of the bristles slid below the gums to clean off plaque bacteria or germs below the gum or gingival margin.

Dr. Charles Bass is known as the "Father of Preventive Dentistry" because he made the first move in theory and practice of daily removal of the oral germs or bacteria through correct use of a toothbrush and dental floss.   The “Father of Dental Hygiene,” Dr. Charles C. Bass who said:

  • “You must clean your teeth right with the right kind of tooth brushand dental flossevery night before retiring.”
  • "A clean tooth does not decay. Periodontoclasia does not occur about a clean tooth."

 

The Bass Method: Purposes and Indications

·         For all patients for germs or bacterial plaque removal next to and directly below the gum or gingival margin.

 

The Bass Method: Technique

The Bass Method: Angle the Filaments at Gum-Tooth Margin

  • Place thesoft toothbrushor ultra-soft toothbrushwith flat brushing plane and rounded nylon filament tips directed straight into the gingival sulcus or gingival margin.
  • The filaments will be directed at approximately 45 degrees to the long axis of the tooth.

The Bass Method: Strokes

  • Press lightly without flexing and bending the filaments.
  • Nylon filament tips will enter the gingival sulci at gum-tooth border and cover the gum margin.
  • Vibrate the toothbrush back and forth with very short strokes without disengaging the nylon tips of the filaments from the gum margin. Count at least 10 vibrations.
  • Reposition the toothbrush and apply the brush to the next group of two or three teeth. Take care to overlap placement.
  • Repeat the entire stroke at each position around the maxillary (upper jaw) and mandibular (lower jaw) arches, both for facial and lingual surfaces.

 

Tips and Advice on your Toothbrush

Toothbrush should have as a part of Bass Method:

  • Long, wide handle  for a firm grasp
 

Toothbrushes should be changed:

  • every three to four months before the bristles become splayed and frayed
  • sick people - at the beginning of an illness and after they feel better

You should brush your teeth at least 2-3 minutes twice a day - the length of a song on the radio.  Brush outside and inside the teeth, and especially on chewing surfaces and between teeth. 

Tips and Advice on your Dental Floss

  Flossing is easy with the proper technique:

  • Wind an 18-inch piece of floss around your middle finger, leaving about 4-inches of floss between them
  • Grasp floss firmly between thumb and index finder of each hand. Gently slide floss between teeth, using a slow sawing motion to slip between tight teeth
  • Move floss up and down against tooth to clean both above and below the gum-line, curving around the tooth for best results
  • Repeat cleaning procedure for each tooth. Every few teeth, move to a clean piece of floss by unwinding floss from one finger and rewinding it onto the other finger

For most patients, flossingshould be used before toothbrushing.  Slide the floss to a new, unused portion for the next tooth surfaces.  Floss may be doubled to provide a wider rubbing surface.  Floss holdercan be helpful for a person with a disability or for a parent or caregiver.

surface.   Floss holdercan be helpful for a person with a disability or for a parent or caregiver.

 

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Robert G. Berger D.D.S.

[email protected]

614-866-3368




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