Dental Health: Eating as we were designed to!
As I age and notice changes taking place in my body as well as my teeth, I reflect on the health practices I’ve utilized over the past 54 years that have me in the physical condition I’m currently in. I consider myself to be in excellent health in all areas, but I still wonder had I started out my life right from birth with the knowledge we have currently about longevity and eating as we were designed to eat - how different would I be today? I thought I should start at the top of my body for today’s blog and focus on dental health. I would have to say, that my teeth and bones are the areas on my body that I wish I had been better informed on as I grew into adulthood. I’ve always been a fanatic about my health…thanks to my father who instilled in me as a little girl, the importance of exercise and caring for our temples and keeping them in optimal condition. We had a small fitness center in our basement and, being his little girl, I followed my dad wherever he went. He was my hero!! Each night, I’d sit in the basement while he exercised and he would talk to me about life, why he did each exercise, and eventually he purchased my first set of weights for my 12th birthday. When it came to my teeth, I so wanted to have healthy, pearly white teeth. I watched my parents having one root canal after another, gold crowns, and losing teeth. I didn't want that to happen to me! I knew they enjoyed soda and dessert and decided as a teen I would stay clear of those items to give my teeth a better chance of remaining in my mouth for as long as I live! (I plan on living until I'm at least 125!) I also brushed often and even used a hard bristled toothbrush given to me by my dentist at each six-month cleaning. Back in those days the use of soft gentle toothbrushes weren't promoted. That was the beginning of mechanical erosion on my teeth and gingival tissue. Couple that with braces on my lower teeth due to crowding and sucking my thumb as a youngster, my oral cavity was not turning out to be what I had hoped for. Fortunately, my teeth themselves were strong and healthy, only a few small cavities. I've had no cavities since my teen years!
As I approached my early 20’s and was modeling and going through various pageants, I began my journey into investigating how to halt or reverse the mechanical erosion. It wasn’t until I realized, like the bones in the rest of our body, our facial bones were no different. Just as our legs, arms, and spine must have stress applied to them from walking, running, less sitting and daily on-going movement to keep them strong and lessen the chance of osteoporosis as we age, we need to apply force from aggressive chewing in order for our jaws to grow large enough for our teeth, or we end up with impacted teeth and the removal of our wisdom teeth, or overcrowding as I experienced in my mouth. We can reduce bone loss in our mouth by doing aggressive chewing at each meal. I ended up having to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed when I was 27 years old. Sadly, they were in perfect condition, no decay, just so crowded that my teeth were moving and causing more gingival problems and misalignment. The nice straight teeth I had from the braces I wore as a teenager were no longer straight. With further investigation and thinking about how we were designed by God, I questioned, what was placed on this earth for us to eat and live out long healthy lives in all areas of our bodies? God doesn’t make mistakes. Even scientists have determined that our bodies should last up to 150 years!
After reading a plethora of research about best practices for living out a long healthy life and learning about those people who reside in the Blue Zones, parts of the world where people live the longest, healthiest, happiest lives, I was convinced that we all can make changes and improve our health destiny. We now know that what we eat and how we live has a major impact on how long we live. Author, researcher, and professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Daniel E. Lieberman, examined thousands of ancient skulls from all over the world and noticed that the skulls from the last few hundred years were a dentist's nightmare...filled with cavities and infections, teeth crowded into the jaw with many impacted teeth, and abscesses. Yet, most of the hunter-gatherers had nearly perfect dental health...why? Their food was mostly raw, whole, tough, no processed altered food, and warranted a great deal of chewing. Due to current innovations in food preparation techniques, our food has become so soft and processed that we no longer chew hard enough and often enough. The majority of people eat highly processed, pureed, ground, whipped, mashed, or chopped into tiny bite-sized pieces and then over cooked becoming soft, almost soggy. With the use of blenders, and other kitchen gadgets, people go for days without having to chew at all. Think about the last 24 hours and what you had to eat. How often did you need to chew? I mean aggressively chew what you were eating. Our teeth were designed to last more than 100 years by eating organically from the earth and eating nothing that has been ground, pureed, or softened, but rather large uncut fresh raw vegetables or roasted game, that would have been gristly and require a great deal of chewing. Think about it, as we run and apply incredible force to the bones in our legs, this increases our bone density and strengthens our muscles. The same holds true for the facial bones and muscles when we chew aggressively each day. There are 57 muscles in our face and neck. With daily aggressive chewing, we are able to not only increase bone density, but also jaw size. Like increasing muscle size in our biceps from exercise, we can also tighten the muscles in our face and decrease the lines and wrinkles, decrease sagging skin, improving skin tone with improved blood flow and circulation, less tension, firmer jaw line, and even fewer headaches!! Wow, what a payoff from eating the way were are supposed to eat! It's not just about dental health! For myself, I eat a vegan diet...chewing large pieces of food at every meal.(i.e. large carrots, raw beets, whole radishes, sprouted beans, nuts, etc.)
My Platter of large chunks of vegetables, sprouted beans, and nuts!
Nothing like ending each meal with a huge carrot to exercise my jaw, facial muscles, and clean my teeth!
How I pack my lunch for school each day!
Fits so perfectly in my special 8 hour cold lunch bag!
Easy to carry to school!
This aggressive chewing has strengthened my teeth, bones, gingival tissue, cleans my teeth, facial muscles are toned, giving my face more definition and contour and less sagging skin and wrinkles. Of course, NO sugar or processed food to cause decay! My teeth are cavity free each year! No root canals, gold crowns, or partials!! I believe that is due to eating organic whole foods, making sure food is in large uncut pieces causing me to chew aggressively at each meal. Also drinking fresh spring water with minerals from the ground, rather than drinking water from the sink that is laden with so many toxic chemicals. I also make sure I’m getting enough vitamin D3 each day and rinse aggressively for two to five minutes with room temperature spring water after each meal. This not only washes away any acid left on my teeth or food particles between the teeth, but while moving the water by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through my teeth for a few minutes after each meal, it also strengthens the facial muscles as an added benefit! This is like the ancient Ayurvedic Indian tradition that's been around for thousands of years called oil pulling that has become so popular. At first, may find your jaw and mouth get tired from the aggressive chewing and water swishing, but in no time, you'll build up strength and endurance! Just like exercising you body!!
I recycled a glass tomato paste jar for my spring water to rinse out my mouth after eating lunch at school!
Be sure to wait for at least 30 minutes after rinsing to floss and brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush and natural toothpaste. Yes, you read that correctly! We’ve been taught to brush after each meal, however research shows that brushing too soon after meals, especially when we consume acidic food; this can do more harm than good. Acid attacks the teeth, eroding enamel and the layer below it, called the dentin. Brushing immediately after eating can actually accelerate this process. Brushing could push the acid deeper into the enamel and the dentin. So, it’s best to rinse your mouth out with water or use an acid-neutralizing mixture of one part baking soda to eight parts water immediately after eating to prevent erosion and further damage to our oral cavity. I also use a tongue scraper before I brush my teeth in the morning and at night. Studies have shown that the simple practice of scraping the tongue before brushing the teeth reduces undesirable bacteria in the mouth that can compromise gingival tissue, teeth, and oral health. Tongue scraping also reduces volatile sulfur compounds that are by-products of mouth bacteria linked to bad breath.
This is my tongue scraper!
How to scrape your tongue
With a relaxed tongue, using your U-shaped tongue scraper, gently reach to the back of the tongue and scrape the tongue from back to front. Repeat this 5-10 times, reaching as far back as comfortable, rinsing the scraper after each pass. Follow tongue scraping with brushing (using a natural toothpaste), flossing, and rinsing with purified or spring water.
When we look at hunter-gatherers of the past and dozen the few hunter-gatherer groups left on earth today, they have similar diets and lifestyles. Starting from birth, babies are nursed for three to four years. The benefits that breastfeeding has are vital, not only to nourishing the infant, but in building a strong immune system. I am a huge advocate for nursing our children. As I believe God designed us to live in nature, using our bodies as He intended for us to live. I found it very important to nurse both of my daughters until they were almost three years old. Because there are SO many benefits to the mother and baby from breastfeeding, I will be writing another blog about pregnancy and raising children as God intended for us to in the near future. I felt it was important to discuss breastfeeding for this Blog because of the amazing benefits to the development of the entire oral cavity. Nursing supports the natural development of a baby’s jaw, teeth, facial structure, and speech. The action needed to breastfeed a baby helps to exercise the facial muscles and promotes the development of a strong jaw and facial structure. Breastfeeding also promotes normal speech development and speech clarity. The longer a baby is allowed to breastfeed, there is a decrease in the risk of needing braces or other orthodontic treatment later on. Bottle-feeding requires a different tongue action than breastfeeding. Over time, this may affect the growth and development of the oral cavity and facial muscles. Sucking on bottle nipples, pacifiers, thumbs and fingers may affect the shape of a baby’s jaw, palate, teeth, and facial structure. All of this is the beginning of how a child’s teeth will grow and impact their lives. As soon as my daughters and granddaughter started teething, I introduced them to chewing on a cucumber. How they loved that! So cool to their sore mouth, delicious, nutritious, and was so natural to chew on rather than some frozen plastic teething ring!! Once my girls reached about one years old with enough teeth to bit into harder food, I would introduce other raw vegetables and nuts!