Probiotics, Prebiotics, and the cancelling effects of antibiotics

smoothie-3697014_1920Since my last posting about probiotics I have been doing more research about gut health and healing the body.  In doing so I have learned that though antibiotics have decreased the death rate from bacterial infections, they have created a whole new line of low grade long-lasting diseases that are just as deadly, like cancer and diabetes.  Don’t get me wrong, if I were faced with death or taking an antibiotic, I would choose the antibiotic.pill-3355177_1920

But the frequency of taking an antibiotic for every little cold, every little fever, is not okay.  If doctors could give an antibiotic that was very specific for the bug making you sick things might be different, but usually that’s not the case.  And giving antibiotics to children age three or younger is especially concerning, because the antibiotics wipe out budding, growing bacterial microbiomes in the gut that may not ever recover and can effect a child’s health for decades.

boy-694763_1920No one likes being sick, but being “under the weather”  is our body’s immune system going to work.  We tend to get impatient with a fever that lingers, a sinus infection, or a sore throat,  but for the body to heal it takes time.  The bottom line is that we need to be patient….maybe that’s why a sick person is called a “patient”?

What is the answer to better health?

The more I research I do, the more I am finding that when we interfere with the body’s healing process, the more damage we will cause.  Let the body heal.  When you are sick, you need to rest.    There are life and death situations where medicine is needed, but avoid them as much as possible.

breakfast-1804457_1920I have also been finding that what we eat is a major factor in setting us up for good health or bad health.  Our bodies are supposed to be able to heal themselves if they have all the right building blocks available.

digestion-303364_1280Our digestive system has trillions of bacteria in it.  In fact, some say we are more of a bacterial host than we are human.  And our health is in many ways determined by the types of bacteria that are dominant in our gut, and the microbes that thrive are the ones that we feed.  This reminded me of the old Cherokee story about the two wolves

So if we feed the right bugs and not the wrong bugs in our gut, we will have better health?

In my studies I came across a Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, MD,  who is the host of BBC’s Doctor in the House, and wanted to share what I learned from him.  He talks about the foods we eat and how they affect our health.   He talks about prebiotics.  Prebiotics are different than probiotics.  Probiotics are live bacteria and we eat them in cultured foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi–or take them in a supplement.  Prebiotics are food for the bacteria.  Prebiotics are in foods like carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes.

tomatoes-1220774_1920Dr. Rangan Chatterjee suggests getting a rainbow of these “prebiotics” every day.  He suggests having a chart on your fridge to remind you what to eat and keep track of it.  The following is a checklist I found that demonstrates what he’s talking about…

One last thing about probiotics….

In math when you have a positive and a negative, what happens?  They cancel each other out, right?  Be very aware that probiotics and antibiotics work against each other.  You cannot take them at the same time.  Good rule of thumb is to give two hours after taking an antibiotic before taking a probiotic so that it is not destroyed by the antibiotic.  But if you DO have to take an antibiotic, make sure you also are getting a probiotic for sure.

bacteria-3658992_1920Antibiotics kill bacteria.  Did you know that foods that are processed have antibiotics in them?  Preservatives are antibiotics, they are extending the life of the food by killing off bacteria, and we eat them every day!  This blew me away.  So not only should we stay away from antibioitics when we’re sick unless they are absolutely necessary, but we should be very careful about what foods we put in our bodies that have preservatives because they have antibiotics in disguise.

If you want to read an interesting abstract about more health related benefits of probiotics, here’s a link to the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health’s July newsletter.

Enough said.  I wish you the happy and healthy lives by making good choices regarding what you put in your body.

Links to recommended probiotics:

https://urbanmonknutrition.com/product/gi-fusion-sale/

https://www.ascendedhealth.com/nutrigenomics/Probiotics.htm

 

Knock Down the Inflammation

argument-238529_1920Do you know what inflammation is?  Think red, think swollen, think heat.  Like when you roll your ankle and it swells up like a balloon.  Inflammation is the body trying to heal.

Inflammation is also a sign that something is wrong.    puffer-fish-882440_1920

These signs should not be ignored.

I recently received an update from AAOSH (American Academy of Oral Systemic Health) and am including part of their newsletter because they point out how the mouth and the body are connected and that treating periodontal disease, or gum disease, in the mouth can help the rest of the body:

aaosh

“The mouth is, was and forever will be is part of the body. The old model in traditional medicine of treating symptoms and body parts in isolation, is flawed. Pioneers in functional medicine like Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Mike Roisen, Dr. Axe, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Amy Doneen, Dr. Brad Bale, and a host of others are leading the charge in functional medicine. They do not ask questions like “what do we have,” but rather “why do we have it.” They understand that the body parts and organ systems are connected via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system, the gastrointestinal system, the nervous system, the immune system –separation of organ systems and body parts does not exist. They understand that what happens in one part of the body, affects the entire being. The mouth is just one example, albeit a very potent one.

In order to get to the basis of inflammation, which is a key driver of metabolic syndrome, one must address all sources of inflammation in the body. The most common site of inflammation, the most easily observed, and importantly -the easiest to treat, is periodontal inflammation. Periodontal disease is not a local disease, as it is often treated.  For instance, evidence suggests that “periodontal changes are the first clinical manifestation of diabetes,” And “evidence indicates that periodontitis is a significant risk factor for poor glycemic control” (these quotes are from Relationship Between Oral Health and Diabetes Mellitus, October 2008, Lamster Et al.). In clinical practice, we are guilty of overlooking a host of other oral signs of diabetes beyond gingival/periodontal changes, such is salivary dysfunction, candidiasis, taste interference, neurosensory disorders, and oral infections. Enamel changes are often the first clinical manifestation of silent reflux.

Periodontal pathogens and the subsequent inflammatory mediators go off site throughout the entire body as is referenced in a variety of scientific, peer-reviewed literature. The consequences of periodontal disease are widespread and often devastating. To ignore this premise and the emerging research is putting our patient’s health and possibly their lives at risk…”

You don’t know if you have gum disease?  Statistically speaking, 48% of adults over 30 and 73% of adults over 65 have some form of gum disease.  If you are an adult, and especially if you are having general health problems, I would suggest a thorough periodontal, or gum, evaluation by a qualified hygienist to see if you have any inflammation that can be “KNOCKED OUT!”

Dental Floss and Toxins

Toxins are a part of our world, it’s unavoidable.  But toxins that we voluntarily put in our body are avoidable.  This is an article posted in USA Today on January 10, 2019 which cautions against using floss that is treated with PFAS, a potentially toxic chemical used as a gliding agent.  I would suggest reading this article and looking at the links associated with it to make an informed decision regarding what you put in your mouth.

floss

Clink on this link for the article or look at the address listed below:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/09/oral-b-glide-floss-toxic-pfas-chemicals-study/2530661002/

Also, here is an explanation by the Environmental Protection Agency about what PFAS’s are and why they are a concern for our health:

https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas

The Good and Bad of Our Little Bugs

Bacteria seem to get a bad rap. Sure, bad bacteria can be responsible for many sicknesses, but the right bacteria can also prevent many sicknesses.  It’s the right balance of good and bad bacteria that keeps you in good health.

What? Bugs can be good for me?  You bet!

To demonstrate, let’s talk about washing your hands.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention published an article about the importance in washing your hands and preventing disease.  But what they didn’t mention is what to wash your hands with, except to use soap.

Since the 1990’s antibacterial soaps have become popular.  What does antibacterial mean?  It’s anything that destroys bacteria or suppresses their growth or their ability to reproduce (1).

What better way to make hand washing more effective than to add something that kills bacteria, right?  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  This article by Harvard University explains why the antibacterial soaps are not ideal, and why they are actually causing more disease.  The only bacteria that survive after washing your hands with antibacterial soap are mutant bacteria, and with all the other good bacteria killed off, they can grow and multiply without anything to stop them.  And let me give you a hint about mutant bacteria, they are not good for you.

Doesn’t that scare you a bit?  Me too!

So let’s talk about inside your body.

Your mouth and your gut are full of trillions of bacteria–some good, and some bad.  The friendly bacteria are important for good health and digestion. They destroy harmful bacteria and other microorganisms and produce vitamin K, folate and short-chain fatty acids (2). Antibiotics like penicillin became miracle cures for many diseases during World War II.  But since they 1950’s there has been a concern about antibiotics being overused and bacteria becoming resistant to them.  As with hand washing, antibiotics kill the good bacteria, giving the bad mutated bacteria free reign to grow without anything to stop them.While a balanced microbiome is related to health, an imbalanced microbiome or dysbiosis is related to many health problems both within the gastro-intestinal tract, such as diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease, and outside the gastro-intestinal tract such as obesity and allergy (7).

That’s where probiotics come in.  Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host (6).  They create a terrain favorable for the right bacteria to grow in the gut.  The good and the bad bacteria compete for the same food source and space so anything that favors the good bacteria means they have a better chance to dominate.  So if you are full of lots of bad bacteria, it’s going to take some work over the course of an extended period of time to make a difference.  Continuously supplying the body with probiotics can help make that difference.

Where can you get probiotics?  Well, you can get them from cultured foods…

probiotic foods 1probiotic foods 2

Another source is supplements.  A general guide for probiotic supplements is in the following document.  A general rule of thumb is high quality manufacturing, proper storage (many need to be refrigerated), multiple strains, and body site specific bacteria.  I will have more in depth information on this in the near future.

Probiotics are safe for use in otherwise healthy populations, but caution should be taken in specific patient groups.  Risk factors for adverse events include immunosuppression, prematurity, critical illness, presence of structural heart disease, hospitalization, presence of a central venous catheter and the potential for translocation of probiotics across the bowel wall. (3)  In other words, if your body’s immunity is low,  you may want to stay away from a lot of probiotics because they will just make you more sick.

The potential application of probiotics includes prevention and treatment of various health conditions and diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, allergies, urogenital infections, cystic fibrosis, various cancers, reduction of antibiotic side effects, in oral health such as prevention of dental caries, periodontal diseases and oral malodour. (4)  Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. (5) Did you hear that?  Treatment of periodontal disease?  That’s why I use probiotics in periodontal therapy and have seen very positive results.

There’s more to come on the use of probiotics, so stay tuned.  In the meantime here are some articles and studies about probiotics  that you can look through:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27208764

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28182644

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28029082

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28503492

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28000477

https://jpma.org.pk/article-details/4007?article_id=4007

https://adc.bmj.com/content/101/4/398.long

Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26965080

http://www.caister.com/cimb/v/v10/37.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27208136

  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10215
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-things-that-harm-gut-bacteria
  3. https://adc.bmj.com/content/101/4/398.long
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23894906#
  5. https://probiorahealth.com/oral-health-a-window-to-your-overall-health/
  6. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=97587
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25458874

Stuck at a Crossroad: Which Dental Insurance is Right For Me? Maybe…None

Quite frequently I am asked which dental insurance is the best.  My answer?  Well, unless you get complimentary dental insurance through an employer, you may want to consider an alternative.  I call dental insurance a benefit, it does help cover some dental costs, though none of them cover everything.  But do you really understand what the money is being used for and what the hidden costs are to you?

Did you know that you have options besides dental insurance?  I have so many people think they cannot have any dental treatment done because they don’t have insurance, they just can’t afford it.  The truth is, you may be paying more to HAVE dental insurance than not.

 

imageWe are given the option, through the federal government, to pay for health-related expenses through a health savings account, or an HSA.  What is a health savings account?  It is a savings account you can set up through a bank, a financial institution, or an insurance company that is used for qualified medical expenses.  Dentistry is one of those expenses.

Now, there are limitations to qualify for an HSA, and that is that you have to have a high deductible health plan.  That means you have a medical insurance plan where the deductable is between $1350 per person or $2700 per family per year and $6650 per individual or $13,500 per family per year.

So check on your medical insurance, and if you qualify, then please listen!

There are four main benefits to having an HSA account:

  1.  Money put into the account is 100% tax deductible, so no taxes are taken out on it.  That includes any interest the account accumulates.   That will lower the amount of taxes you pay every year.
  2. Money does NOT have to be used by a certain date.  It can be used even through retirement and can continue building for years.  In retirement it can even be used for some living expenses.
  3. The money is yours.  It is easily transferred from bank to bank, so if you move or change jobs, it’s no big deal to move money around.  Trying to move 401K or IRA accounts if you’ve switched jobs can be very difficult or not possible at all without losing money.
  4. There are dozens of eligible expenses the money can be used for, not just medical expenses, many of which you might not be aware of.

I have been using an HSA for several years for my own family’s health related costs.  I just went to a local bank, got an HSA account, and was issued a debit card.  If I don’t have the card on me when I make a purchase, I just pay myself back.  It would be wise to keep track of your purchases for tax purposes.

So in my experience, if I were at a crossroads whether to find a dental insurance plan or do an HSA, I would recommend the HSA.  You manage your own money for dental and health related expenses instead of paying into the insurance bureaucracy, you have tax advantages, and you save money.

Check out the links below for more information on HSA’s.

Health Savings Accounts Tax Information

Health Savings Accounts Eligible expenses

Government Information about Health Savings Account

Shop HSA Accounts

Breathe Deeply

Do you realize how important it is to breathe well, especially at night, and all the health problems that can be related to a lack of good oxygen intake?  I want you to take a minute to answer these questions, for yourself and for each of your family members….

1.Do you wake up tired even though you had an adequate amount of time sleeping?boy-828850_1920

2. Are you tired and falling asleep throughout your day?

3. Does your jaw hurt when you wake up in the morning?

4. Do you breathe through your mouth when you sleep?sleeping-1311784_1920

5. Do you snore?

6. Do you have high blood pressure?

7. Do you have anxiety?

8. Do you have depression?

9. Are your teeth sensitive?

10. Have you noticed your teeth getting shorter?lama-3582739_1920

11. Does it feel like your bite is shifting?

12. Are you sick a lot?

13. Do you frequently get headaches?

14. Do you have trouble concentrating, staying focused, or have been diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder?man-3323546_1920

15. Do you wet the bed?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, for yourself or for any of your family members, I want you to read the articles linked below to find out about airway obstruction disorders, or sleep apnea.  I want you to know why this is such a big deal, why you should be checked by your dentist, and why it’s important to get treatment.

CNN Health

PubMed

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome

The Chameleon Disease

Health Complications in Children

I highly encourage you to become more informed about sleep apnea.  Read these articles, ponder on you and your family’s sleeping and breathing habits.  Recognize that many health complications may be related to the quality and quantity of oxygen intake at night.  Have your dentist check your teeth, get a proper mouthguard, get a sleep test if needed, and make sure you are breathing deeply!

 

 

 

Why Everyone Should Consider having a 3-D X-Ray

Can anyone argue that seeing the whole picture is critical in knowing what you’re up against?

surfacing-crocodile-327212_1920

When it comes to your health, every year it is recommended having x-rays so the dentist and hygienist can look for any cavities and gum disease.

While the yearly 2-D x-rays are very helpful, they miss a lot of other problems that may be “lurking” below the surface.

As new research continues to link bacteria, viruses, and fungi from the mouth to diseases in the rest of the body, it would be very wise to have a 3-D x-ray done.  These pathogens reside in the bone where a tooth has been extracted, at the end of an abcessed tooth, at the end of a dead or root canaled tooth, and in the sinuses.  A three dimensional look of the head and neck and provides valuable information that can’t be seen any other way.

What is a 3-D x-ray?  The 3-D x-ray, or Dental cone beam computed tomography (CT), is a special type of x-ray equipment used  to produce three dimensional (3-D) images of your teeth, nerve pathways, and bone in a single scan.

So what is the 3-D x-ray doing?  It is taking pictures in one millimeter slices of hard tissue of the head and neck. The computer software then uses the data to create a three dimensional view that can be explored very closely.

What are the images of 3-D x-rays used for?  They can be used to look for pockets of infection around teeth, bone, and in the sinuses, look for fractures in teeth and bone, observe if there’s plaque in the carotid arteries, pinpoint problems in the jaw joint (tmj), investigate the airways of the nose and throat for blockages, and then they are also invaluable in the planning and placing of dental implants.

It’s pretty sobering to see the difference between 2-D x-rays and 3-D x-rays.

Here is a 2-D x-ray taken that shows a dark spot right at the end of the middle tooth, which typically is a pocket of infection or an abcess:

abcess

Here is the same area of the mouth viewed with the help of a 3-D xray:

abcess 2

The dark spot at the end of the root can now be seen as being very large and possibly involves three teeth instead of just one.

I know for myself that 3-D x-rays are better for detecting disease and infections in the teeth and bones, I see this every day in the dental office.  The 2-D x-rays are great for seeing bone levels and cavities between teeth.  Research shows this to be true.

Is the 3-D x-ray safe?  Will it expose me to a lot of radiation?

A typical CT scan that a medical doctor will use is looking at tissue and bone and is more penetrating than a dental cone beam or 3-D CT scan, therefore exposing you to more radiation, up to ten times more.  The dental 3-D x-ray is not as penetrating, it only penetrates hard tissues and bone–you don’t see tissue.  Here is information on CT x-ray exposure.

Of course, you will need to decide for yourself if it is wise to have a 3-D x-ray taken.  Generally in my office we recommend anyone over thirty years, especially those who have had any extracted teeth (like wisdom teeth), anyone who has had any root canals done or has been told they need a root canal or have a “dead” tooth, anyone considering investing in a new crown on a tooth, and anyone who is taking or will be taking any bone altering medications (bisphosphonates especially).

The 3-D x-ray is still considered elective and is not covered by most dental benefit programs, it will cost anywhere from $200-$500, but that is still much less than medical CT’s or MRI’s.

Hopefully you can see the value of getting a 3-D x-ray so that you can have the peace of mind that all is well in the unexplored reaches of your mouth!