Tooth Decay & Obesity: How are we still losing?
I have been practicing dentistry as a root canal specialist for over twenty years now. Wow, how time flies!!! When I first started my practice, I remember having lots of debt from my dental education and the start-up costs from beginning my own office from scratch. I worried about paying all of the loans back! I often thought that, if society were to cure dental disease, I would have nothing to “fix” with some big bills to pay. I thought that, with advances in patient dental education, mechanical toothbrushes, better toothpastes, better floss and water picks, I might soon be out of a job! I worked hard to pay off those loans to get out of debt as fast as possible. Well, fast forward twenty years, and now I find myself in a better position in some ways, but still fighting the same fight. TOOTH DECAY!!!
The overall decay rates of teeth might be down a bit from back when I started, and certainly better than back in the 70’s and 80’s, but I am still fighting decay issues today. More commonly though, my colleagues and I are battling the consequences of patients having had their decayed teeth filled or crowned from way back then. Recurrent decay around old fillings and crowns have become a huge part of what we deal with today. IT SEEMS LIKE A NEVER ENDING BATTLE!!! If we could just go back in time and start all over again with all of our patients from the time they were babies and focus more on...PREVENTION! We would have WAY fewer DENTAL problems today...not to mention OBESITY!
SO LET’S START NOW!!!
SUGAR CAUSES DECAY
Prevention of decay is KEY! This HAS to be one of the most important things we could INVEST in for our CHILDREN AND OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN. How do we do this?
Instill the following habits: -avoid SUGARY FOODS AND DRINKS -brush after meals (or at least twice a day) -floss before bedtime
-visit the dentist every 6 months!
These habits can help prevent most cavities from developing. THINK OF THE MONEY YOU COULD SAVE IN ELIMINATING DENTAL WORK FROM YOUR BUDGET! In fact, as far as “LONG TERM INVESTING” is concerned, I consider the proper use of a toothbrush and floss along with dental exams every 6 months to be about as good of a long term savings and investing strategy as I can imagine.
COST OF PREVENTION:
COST OF A TOOTHBRUSH AND FLOSS: $5-10.00 X 4 PER YEAR
COST OF A DENTAL CLEANING AND X-RAYS: $75-200 X 2 PER YEAR
TOTAL FOR ONE YEAR: $440/YEAR
COST OF FIXING A DECAYED TOOTH:
COST OF ONE FILLING: $200-300
COST OF ONE CROWN: $1,200-1,500
COST OF ONE ROOT CANAL: $1,100-1,500
COST OF AN IMPLANT + CROWN: $4,000-5,000
ADD THAT UP: $$THOUSANDS$$
When a patient gets referred to me for a root canal because the decay has gotten too deep, it takes about one to one and a half hours to do a good root canal. I then recommend a crown over the top of the tooth to try to prevent it from fracturing. Thus, in total, it will cost $3,000 just to save one tooth. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the effort and the cost to save a tooth is totally worth it...but WHAT IF WE COULD JUST PREVENT DECAY in the first place??? I have patients in my practice that struggle with their teeth constantly and go through this process of a root canal and crown year over year and can never seem to get ahead. We are talking thousands of dollars in dental care NOT TO MENTION the time spent away from work or doing something else fun with their time (and money)!
WE MUST STRESS PREVENTION!!!
I am now at the stage in my career where I feel the need to advocate strongly for the PREVENTION OF TOOTH DECAY in our youth. Prevention is the best way to curb this problem from becoming rampant in a child's mouth. I see it every day. I TRULY MEAN EVERY DAY IN MY PRACTICE. A patient comes in with a tooth that has had a filling or a crown that was done a few years prior. If the decay was deep, then the filling was deep. Sometimes the patient has not taken care to clean around the filling or the edges of the crown and NEW decay begins. The pulp tissue inside the tooth gets irritated or infected, and the tooth then needs a root canal.
PREVENTION PREVENTION PREVENTION!!!
We must do a better job stressing the importance of brushing and flossing teeth at a very early age! However, SOME PARENTS STILL don’t realize the harm and effects of not educating their children on proper oral hygiene techniques. PARENTS NEED TO BE MADE AWARE!!! Many times, PARENTS are making the PROBLEM EVEN WORSE by allowing their kids to drink too many sugary drinks and eat too many sugary treats. THEY JUST DON’T KNOW!
Here’s how it goes: -The child eats or drinks SUGAR -The SUGAR sticks to the teeth -The NATURAL BACTERIA in our MOUTHS feed on the SUGAR -The BACTERIA
release ACID -The ACID DESTROYS THE ENAMEL of the tooth -DECAY BEGINS!!!
WE MUST ELIMINATE SUGAR from the diet...or at least CLEAN IT OFF!!! PLEASE!!!
AND NOT ONLY DOES SUGAR CAUSE CAVITIES...
SUGAR CAUSES OBESITY
(WELL, I SHOULD SAY “TOO MUCH” SUGAR CAUSES OBESITY...MY MOTHER IN LAW MIGHT BE UPSET BY THAT STATEMENT!!! SHE MAKES SOME MEAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!!!)
SUGAR IS NOW THE FOOD INDUSTRIES SECRET WEAPON
Back in the 1980’s-1990’s, the trend was to LOWER THE FAT CONTENT of processed foods so that they could be advertised as “FAT FREE”. That sounds great of course, because doesn’t everybody want to be FREE OF FAT? But, food without fat in it doesn’t taste very good. So, the food industry decided that the next best thing to do to make it taste better was to ADD SUGAR to it. However, they became very deceptive about it in their nutrition labeling and ingredients list. There are over 50 different names for sugar that show up on some packages so that we do not notice the word sugar. Of the estimated 2 MILLION items that can be purchased in our grocery stores throughout the country, approximately 70 PERCENT have “added sugar” to make the food taste better. But most people don’t even notice!!!
OBESITY AND DIABETES NUMBERS CONTINUE TO INCREASE
OBESITY levels continue to increase year over year in our country. We’ve developed a culture that makes getting obese easy: -We have inexpensive, good tasting, super sized foods -We have a decline in physical activity in the workplace, daily life and in our schools
OBESITY causes a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, HYPERTENSION AND CANCER. Today, it is estimated that about 100 million people are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
ONE THING dictates DIABETES rates worldwide: THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR INTAKE
Table SUGAR is made of two molecules: GLUCOSE and FRUCTOSE. When ingested, they separate in the gut and the GLUCOSE circulates through the body to feed our muscles and brain. The FRUCTOSE (which is the more dangerous of the two) goes right to the Liver where all kinds of problems begin. When the Liver is forced to break down FRUCTOSE in excess, the Liver has no choice but to turn that energy into LIVER FAT leading to all kinds of metabolic diseases. Also, ingesting too much FRUCTOSE SHUTS DOWN THAT PART OF OUR BRAIN THAT TELLS US WE ARE FULL!!! SO THE MORE FRUCTOSE WE EAT...THE MORE WE WANT TO EAT!!!
The exact cause of DIABETES is unknown. But in all cases, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. This happens because the Pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Approximately 37.3 million people in the United States (about 11% of the population) have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is most common, representing 90-95% of all cases.
TYPE 1 DIABETES is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the cells in the Pancreas that make insulin. This can occur from either genetic or environmental factors. Certain types of viruses could trigger the disease.
TYPE 2 DIABETES is often linked to being overweight or inactive. Sugar doesn’t necessarily CAUSE diabetes, but you are more likely to get it if you gain weight by eating too many high calorie, sugar-filled foods.
Common symptoms of Diabetes are INCREASED thirst and hunger, INCREASED urination and feeling tired. NUMBNESS in the hands and feet, BLURRED vision and unexplained weight loss are other symptoms.
Long term effects of high blood glucose levels lead to DAMAGE of the NERVES and BLOOD VESSELS. Increased chances for HEART attack, stroke and coronary artery disease occur with diabetes. KIDNEY trouble requiring dialysis or transplant are also common problems. Sores on the feet sometimes leading to AMPUTATION can occur. Hearing loss and periodontal (gum tissue) disease is more likely as well.
SO WAKE UP and PREVENT!!!
We must WAKE UP and realize that WE have more control than we know! Don’t play the VICTIM any longer to DECAY and DISEASE!!! TAKE EXTREME MEASURES TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Let’s no longer rely so much on our DOCTORS and DENTISTS to fix us! WE MUST PRACTICE PREVENTION! A little bit of PREVENTION each day can save HUNDREDS OF HOURS of doctors appointments and THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS of often preventable treatment procedures!!!
A FEW TIPS ON CONTROLLING YOUR HEALTH: –AVOID SUGAR –EAT A GOOD DIET –FIND AN EXERCISE PROGRAM YOU ENJOY AND MAKE IT A HABIT –SLEEP 7 TO 8 HOURS A DAY –BRUSH AND FLOSS TWICE A DAY (ENFORCE THIS ON YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS!!!)
INVEST AN HOUR OR TWO A DAY IN YOURSELF AND YOUR HEALTH AND JUST WATCH THE MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL BENEFITS THAT COME ABOUT!!!
BREAK OUT of your MOLD and BECOME the BEST VERSION of YOU!
BE HAPPY AND HEALTHY!!!