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Four Cornerstones of Oral Health

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2008

Four out of five Americans have some form of gum disease, and with research linking oral disease to serious systemic illnesses, early detection is key.

1. Eliminate Use of Harmful Products and Substances
Most toothpaste is prepared with the same "detergent" we wash our dishes and clothes with. These toothpastes, along with alcohol-based mouthwashes can irritate the gums and upset the homeostasis of the mouth, resulting in gum disease, infection, and systemic illness. Also, Americans are obsessed with teeth-whitening products, but many contain harmful hydrogen peroxide and carbonyl peroxide -- cancer-causing free radicals.

2. AAA Nutrition
Eat alkalizing foods (whole grains and green, leafy veggies; avoid refined flours and sugars) to help ensure proper digestion and prevent against acid-reflux disease, which has been proved to have a negative effect on the mouth and body. Try an anti-inflammatory diet; eliminate inflammatory triggers including dairy, gluten, and corn. Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods. Most people with gum disease are deficient in high-antioxidant foods, which contain, for example, B vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin C. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and support healthy function of the gum tissue.

3. Stress Management
Stress has a debilitating effect on the mouth. It causes a lack of saliva flow (saliva protects teeth) and dry mouth, which puts you at risk for decay. Stress also can cause wearing of teeth. Try a relaxing technique like yoga; it has a positive effect on the mouth.

4. Exercise
Runners generally have a negligible amount of gum disease. When you exercise, you release endorphins, which help build your immune system and regulate you body's metabolism, giving you the ability to be more resilient under stress.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Dr. Gerald Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry in New York City, for sharing the four cornerstones of oral health.

Comments (7)

  • DrGrace 23 Feb, 2008

    Fact is that Dr. Curatola was correct in his statements that most toothpaste was developed as a detergent and the leading edge of research is in the direction of EXACTLY what he is saying. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a known irritant and does NOT belong in the mouth (regardless of whether it comes from natural or artificial sources).

  • smilingrdh 22 Feb, 2008

    Oh and by the way... Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent naturally derived from coconut and/or palm kernel oil. SLS has a long history of safe use in a variety of consumer personal care products. But if you prefer not to have SLS in your toothpaste there are products available over the counter for consumers. Tom's of Maine makes and SLS free toothpaste.

  • smilingrdh 22 Feb, 2008

    Martha, I hate to tell you but the tool that the Dr. used to "remove" those barnacles (calculus) was not a proper hygiene instrument (tool). That was a spoon excavator and it was generally used to remove soft decay from teeth years ago. It is NOT used for dental cleanings. I've been a Registered Dental Hygienist for 15 yrs now and I have never used such an instrument when treating my patients.

  • ElComer 20 Feb, 2008

    I really wish you had given the bead lady half of the Dentists time. :)

  • knucks 20 Feb, 2008

    Yes, there are products we can switch to that don't harm us. Melaleuca has wonderful products that leave out chemicals. They have a great oral line that even my little one doesn't mind.

  • milichka 20 Feb, 2008

    there was no guidance offered on where viewers can find oral care products that are healthier for the mouth. Are organic toothpastes the answer, or is there something else we can easily buy? What defines a "harmless" oral care product?

  • acraig 20 Feb, 2008

    You need to follow health and dental care practices that are "evidence based" . The procedures presented were not. Please get an opinion from an evidenced based dental hygienist and dentist.