When I was younger, I had high fevers, and I was given an antibiotic that stained my teeth. I was made fun of, pointed at, laughed at, and asked if I owned a toothbrush. This experience shaped the direction of my life and why I am doing what I do today. Talk about affecting and my self-esteem. These events led me to look for answers.
Why do they treat the mouth as an isolated part of the body?
When I became a dental hygienist, I was taught it was all about brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist twice a year. If you didn’t, cavities were inevitable, and it must be something you are doing wrong at home!
It soon became clear to me your mouth can have devastating effects on not only your overall health but your emotional well-being. People judge you by how you look. How you look is all dependent on how your mouth develops, which is linked to how and what we are fed as an infant and toddler, how we breathe, and the habits we form as we grow.
Understanding the critical relationship between your mouth, body, teeth, nose, tongue, breathing, nutrition, sleep, pH, brain, microbiome, posture, and how you feel about yourself is key to a happy, healthy life.
I learned a lot about dental problems as a child, but not about what causes them or how to prevent them in the first place.
As a dental hygienist, I spent the first two decades teaching people how to prevent cavities with the taught information.
What I learned over this time is that people are not interested in prevention. According to them, when it comes to our mouths, if nothing hurts, there is not a problem. When I would tell people they had gingivitis, gum disease, or cavities, they would look at me like I punked them and say, “but nothing hurts.”
I still get that to this day. I shake my head and explain to a blank stare. I started teaching how the mouth is connected to the body and looking for patterns with patients.
I noticed if we could not get their cavities and bleeding gums under control, it had to be something else in the body. I would send people for blood tests, and everything would come back fine. I started to think maybe I was crazy. Until 5 years later, those same people I had sent for blood work years before were now being diagnosed with a systemic illness; diabetes, thyroid cancer, or leukemia.
I watched my Uncle lose one tooth after another for years from periodontal disease even though I saw him every three months for maintenance visits. He was one of those patients and was a recovering alcoholic and heavy smoker. I chalked it up to poor oral hygiene and habits. Five years later, he was diagnosed with diabetes. Once he got his sugar under control, his gum measurements got better. Not perfect, but much better. There were three other patients years later with the same thing. Their numbers got better. I still saw them every three months. Years later, their numbers got worse again. I asked if they had any recent blood work. All three ended up with different cancers. All three have now passed.
I was not confident in what I was seeing, and their blood work was normal, so I stood down. I wish I would have gone with my instincts and been more vocal about what I was seeing and felt.
We still treat our mouth separate from our body instead of focusing on the complex interactions of our brain, nose, mouth, and gut.
I know now more than ever our mouth is a gateway into our body and is key to better overall health.
Good health and the best possible fitness levels can be attained if we pay attention to the signs, know what to look for, and our mouth and teeth are healthy.
I was told by six different doctors I would not have children. I, however, knew I would no matter how many times I was told I could not. I kept going to different doctors until I found the one who said he could help. Three months later, I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter. What this experience taught me was not all doctors have the same training. They only know what they were taught. It is not their fault. There is someone out there that can help you. Sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Being determined to have a baby taught me that you need to follow your instincts, trust your gut, and believe in yourself. You know you better than anyone. My family is sensitive to foods, medications, and our environment. Most doctors we have seen do not believe what we say when telling them what we are experiencing. So health care has always been a challenge.
Because I was curious and have never stopped learning about the mouth-body connection, because of my experiences when my gums started bleeding and I could not get them to stop, I knew it meant something was wrong even though my bloodwork came back fine.
Lucky for me, I knew not to give up and how to be my own health care advocate and find the people that could help me. I never thought I would be diagnosed with breast cancer.
I am not saying that if you have bleeding gums, you will end up with cancer. What I am saying is your mouth gives you warning signs something is not right with your body.
For decades we were taught tooth decay and gum inflammation are types of diseases you get in your mouth. It has been proven that cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infertility, autoimmune disease, low birth weight, and some cancers often begin with the mouth or can be made worse by the mouth’s condition if it is not healthy.
We know mouth breathing and teeth that are diseased can trigger an immune response and that most chronic illnesses are not bad luck or bad genes. They are a result of silent chronic inflammation in the body, causing stress to our system. Doctors and dentists still consistently work independently of each other, even though we have the research that suggests a correlation.
We need to start looking at the big picture! Our medical system is a sick care system. Not a health care system. Our mouth is not seen as the central organ of our body and where we should be focusing first. If we change our perspective, we have the opportunity to understand the causes of many diseases and diagnose many illnesses earlier than we thought was possible.
The function is discussed last.
We are obsessed with straight white teeth. Why? Because it is not sexy and it is expensive to treat once we have let it go unnoticed until it is a problem or we are in pain. Our teeth and saliva do a lot of work to break down our foods into digestible pieces. We are missing the fact that our teeth are at the core of our health. Our teeth are connected to our blood vessels, lymph system, nervous system, immune system.
Each tooth in the human mouth is affiliated by a meridian to an organ in the body. When an organ or system becomes diseased or infected, the associated tooth most likely will express some symptoms as well. You can see the connections between your teeth and your organs by referring to this meridian tooth chart.
Many people are very diligent with oral hygiene yet end up feeling disappointed or ashamed of their teeth. Despite brushing, flossing, water flossing, interdental brushes, fluoride, mouthrinse, 95 % of people suffer from tooth decay, and 655 have some form of gum disease. These theories are under scrutiny. Cavities are still the #1 preventable disease in our children. So what are we overlooking?
We have learned to see our teeth as inanimate objects instead of living microorganisms and part of our body and overall health.
We may be living longer, but how healthy are we really? People have desperately been seeking answers to why we are getting sicker and sicker? Why do we see more cancer?
Research shows we may be living longer, but we are not living healthier lives. We work most of our lives only to retire and spend our savings on healthcare. What???
Why are we not questioning this?
Why are we not seeing the whole picture and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together?
Dr. Kevin Boyd has been studying ……..
His research is showing it all starts in the womb. My daughter’s cat had babies on mothers day. When they were a week old, the momma cat moved her babies to my closet. While I was not happy about this, I watched them every day. They did not open their eyes for two and a half weeks.
During a human’s first week of life, we are virtually blind, and we are not aware of our hands or feet till weeks later. The first thing we use, you know what I am going to say, “OUR MOUTH!”
Just like those kittens, the first thing we do is latch onto our MOMS. Our entire existence in the first months of our lives revolves around our oral cavity and nose. We cannot even breathe through our mouths until we are three months old.
We are essentially little eating and pooping machines. We experience the world around us with our mouths. When we discover our hands, we put things in our mouths to better understand the objects around us. Our teeth are the strongest substance in our body and connected to our brain via the strongest nerve in our body, the trigeminal nerve. Our tongue is the strongest muscle in our body. It shapes the roof of our mouth, the floor of our nasal cavities, the muscle of our face and jaw. Our entire futures are built around how our mouth develops in the first year of our life. Most parents do not even look in their infant’s mouth until they get teeth.
We need to talk about this topic more if we want our kiddos to survive and thrive.
Before the agricultural revolution, mothers nursed until 2-6 years old, and we started chewing. Now we nurse 6 months to a year and moms who go back to work at six weeks pump and bottle feed. You get nasty looks if you are nursing when your kids start walking. Yep! You know it. You have either seen it or been one of those people who frown on a mom who chooses to continue nursing past the age of two.
Nursing is a natural instinct, and cutting it short is changing the shape of our faces, creating malocclusions, and constructing our airways. We see more feeding issues, behavioral issues, bedwetting, sleep-disordered breathing. ADHD and less chewing because we have introduced softer, more processed foods.
When Charles Darwin postulated the evolution theory, he suggested that a trait would emerge if it contributed to the survival and increased the reproductive success of a species. Nonetheless, many animal species, including prehistoric humans, ingested fewer toxic substances and obtained benefits for their own survival.
Until agricultural expansion around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing.
Sugar consumption in the US has jumped steeply and steadily over the past two centuries. The increase in sugar consumption has corresponded with higher rates of obesity and diabetes – sugar consumption accelerated around 1980 when the obesity epidemic started, and the diabetes epidemic started a decade later, in the 1990s.
In the brain, sugar stimulates the “feel-good” chemical dopamine. This euphoric response makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since our hunter-gatherer ancestors predisposed to “get hooked” on sugar probably had a better chance of survival (some scientists argue that sugar is an addictive drug.
This leads to our present understanding of how the dopaminergic system is involved in reward and its functions, like eating highly palatable foods and drug addiction. We also review how other neurotransmitters, like acetylcholine, interact in the satiation processes to counteract the dopamine system. Lastly, we analyze the important question of whether access to relatively inexpensive and convenient “snack” foods has changed normal eating behavior, including less time spent preparing meals at home. Industrialization of the food supply has decreased the cost of energy-dense foods by adding refined sugars, grains, and/or fats to their products. Consumption of these processed foods has increased in children and toddlers.
While behavioral and lifestyle interventions remain the mainstream “treatment” approach for obesity, dietary adherence remains an obstacle. Recent research suggests that highly processed foods are addictive, and the pleasure-seeking pathways may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of obesity. Given the challenges that many people face controlling their appetites in today’s “food environment,” it appears that public policy changes will be required to modify the conditions in which food choices are made. During the beginning of the pandemic, you could see what the food choices were by what was missing on the shelves at the grocery stores.
Our food choices further explain why as a population, we are so unhealthy.
A Healthy Mouth is a Healthy Body and A Healthy life