Another Reason to Brush

There have been so many studies on Alzheimer’s Disease.   Causes? Cure?  This disease causes brain changes that gradually get worse. It’s the most common cause of dementia. In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells degenerate and die, causing a decline in memory and mental function.  Some days I am sure this is why I can’t find my cell phone!  A recent study correlates daily brushing with dementia.  The article below was posted by teethcenter.com, and while the study doesn’t seem definitive, it points strongly towards the benefits of brushing.   Hoolulu Denist

Daily Brushing Associated with Lower Risk of Dementia

The Journal of American Geriatrics has released a study claiming that daily brushing is associated with a lower chance of developing dementia late in life. The study observed 5,468 people over a period of 18 years. All participants in the study resided at a retirement community in Southern California.Senior Center

Of the 5,468 studied, 1,145 developed some form of dementia and those who developed dementia were much less likely to brush daily and maintain good oral health habits. Richardson, a spokesperson for TeethCenter said, “This report leaves plenty of room for interpretation. I think it’s safe to say that the adults that exercised healthy oral health habits had a lower case of developing dementia, but, why is that the case?”

Researchers on the study warned that the study “did not prove a cause and effect between oral health and dementia”. It has been long suggested that oral health is directly related to overall health as people who care for their teeth tend to care for their bodies, but, the direct correlation and causation is still unclear.

Source: http://www.teethcenter.com/daily-brushing-associated-with-lower-risk-of-dementia/  Sept 14, 2012.  Reprinted by permission.

In my Honolulu dental practice, we really focus on preventative care.  Good oral home care is the cornerstone of good oral health and should be supplemented with regular exams and cleanings.   It makes sense that all of our bodies systems are connected, and oral health is connected to overall health.  As a dentist, I know this is a fact.   We are learning, more and more.  Someday we will have all the answers… but until then, I’ll just brush at least twice a day… unless I forget.

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Cambodia… Open Wide !!

cropped lizardGroup PicA Honolulu Dentist on a mission to Cambodia

A lot of things have happened since November… here in Hawaii we get caught up in the holiday season, if you can imagine coconut trees strung with Christmas lights. 

As if the holiday season was not busy enough, I spent all of February off island.  I worked again at the Molokai Community Health Center, and then spent several weeks in Cambodia where I was blessed to participate with the Cambodia Health Professional Association of America (CHPAA) and their medical mission to Cambodia.  Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest nations.  The civil war from 1970 to 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, and the Cambodia-Vietnam War from 1978 to 1979 virtually destroyed Cambodia’s economy.  Although progress is being made, as of 2007 the latest year UN Statistics are available, 30% of the population falls below the national poverty level. Poverty in Cambodia is overwhelmingly a rural phenomenon.  Over 93% of the country’s total number of poor live in rural areas, 6.2% live in urban areas, with a tiny percentage in urban Phnom Penh. CHPAA’s mission is to provide medical and dental care to those desperately in need. 

Patients came from miles around, lining up overnight with the hopes of being treated

Patients came from miles around, lining up overnight with the hopes of being treated

In Cambodia, one of the free clinics was set up at the Khmuonh Health Center in Khan Sen Sok, a municipality of Phnom Penh and one of the most underserved areas in the Cambodian Capital.  Seen on a first-come, first-served basis, patients came from the surrounding areas, other parts of Phnom Penh and distant provinces.  The need for care is great.  In addition to this clinic, radio and television announcements brought many patients to outlying clinics where part of the medical/dental team travelled to each day.  It was a busy week.  By midmorning of our first clinic day, there were thousands of people lined up.  They came from surrounding villages, overnight and got in line.. hoping for their chance. 

There were 11 dentists total participating in this 3 week clinic.  About half of us stayed at the Khmuon Health Center, and the rest of us, travelled daily to outlying communities.  The day started at 6am with an average of an hour bus ride and each day, we would visit a different location.   I was responsible for making sure that all the equipment and supplies needed for the day was available, and was theClinic set up only dentist who was assigned to the travelling clinic for the entire mission. 

Once there, our first task was to set up the clinic.    

Dental chairs ready to treat patientsAgain, patients lined up with the hopes of being treated were triaged, and the dental patients were sent our way.  Many of the people had never seen a dentist, and were experiencing dental pain.  Unfortunately, most teeth were not able to be saved, and needed to be extracted. 

working on a patientIt was a truly humbling experience.  Poverty rates are high among those whose household heads have little or no education, dental education is non-existent at its most basic level.  Many patients were unfamiliar with the use of a toothbrush and still had fears that an extraction of a tooth would result in blindness.  My heart went out to them and I look forward to returning again.

ItCambodia agriculture is dry season in Cambodia.  It is beautiful and exotic.  On the way to the outlying clinics, we saw some beautiful areas which were dedicated to agriculture. 

Tarantula Dinner

True to form, I love to eat and found the food delicious and different.  Most exotic?  fried tarantulas… quite tasty actually.

             

Dental Gastronomy: Strenghtening your tooth enamel with Collards

I love being a dentist in Honolulu.  I enjoyed living on the mainland while I was in college, and then again as I pursued my Doctorate in Dentistry, but I sure missed local style foods.  Lucky for me, healthy eating is important for good oral health!  Have you been to the new gastropub in Moilili?  Gastronomy is the art or science of food eating… so why not dental gastronomy?  Eating food that is good for your oral health!

Weak tooth enamel leaves your teeth vulnerable to tooth problems like cavities, chipping and sensitivity as the enamel thins and breaks.  Ok, not so good, but not like anyone wants to think about tooth enamel all the time.  I do like to think about food though!  One of the strategies to stop the weakening of the enamel is to watch what we eat.  Sugary, starchy and acidic foods feed the Streptococcus mutans and lacto bacillus bacteria that cause tooth decay.  Even my beloved diet coke can be highly acidic. Yikes.

Lucky for me, I am one of those people who lives to eat.. as opposed to those who just eat to live!  I am happy to eat those yummy foods that just happen to strengthen my tooth enamel at the same time.  Vitamin K is known to strengthen tooth enamel when paired with Vitamin D.  Since vitamin D is easy to come by in sunny Hawaii, (and also included in my skim milk),  I am looking for vitamin K.  Abundant in collards, which by the way has more calcium than milk, and is grown locally in Hawaii.   I have been making a Hawaii style version of Brazilian collard greens Mineira.  Super fast.. and tasty.  It is nothing like the collards cooked to extinction that my dad remembers growing up in North Carolina. affordable honolulu dentist

Mineira Oahu

1 bunch collards, stems removed. (about 1 pound)
3 slices Spam (or bacon) thinly sliced into sticks
¼ round onion, minced
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 c extra firm tofu, quarter inch dice
Lemon juice, dash of shoyu and dash of pepper to taste.

  1. Directions:
    Wash collards and remove stems, Stack the leaves one on another, and roll from stem ends to tips into a cigar shape.  Cut cross wise into 1/8 inch strips, much as you would to chiffonade herbs)
  2. In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, cook spam, onion, garlic until onion is translucent, and spam has browned.  Stir in tofu and sauté briefly.  Add collards to pan and cook, stirring until just wilted and bright green (this will take 3 minutes or so) Honolulu Dentist helathy eating

 I could eat this all myself, but it makes a great side vegetable dish for 4.

As a Honolulu Dentist, I have an interest in anything that impacts oral health.  This dish is tasty, and great for your health!!  Now that is a strategy I can sink my teeth into!!