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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.

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