Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing But...

I have been cursed with bad teeth. I wish that weren't the case, but it seems to be a family thing; both Mom and Dad had dentures because their teeth were so bad when they were younger that they were advised to have them removed and replaced.

Both my sister Kimberly and I have had to deal with frequent fillings, crowns, root canals, etc., over the years. Thursday morning, I'm having to have an extraction and implant procedure done to a tooth that already had had three crowns and a root canal; by the time it's all over, this tooth will represent more than $10,000 worth of dental work and discomfort.

Recently, I've been putting a lot of attention into dental matters, hoping to find a way to reverse this trend; I'm already having my teeth cleaned and checked every four months and still can't get the problem under control. My research has led me to a couple of items: xylitol and glycyrrhizol A. Both of them target Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes dental caries and the subsequent cavities; I'm trying to take an aggressive approach to S. mutans hoping that I can prevent the cavities and save my teech.

In case you want to check any of it out, here's a distillation of the various things I"m using, along with links to some of the articles that led me to give this stuff a try.

As I said, I'm trying xylitol and Glycyrrhizol A lollipops, along with a twice a day baking soda rinse (4 ounces water, one teaspons baking soda) to reduce oral acidity, which is necessary for dental caries) and use of ACT flouride mouthwash and a remineralizing toothpaste. Time will tell if any of this works, but I'm certainly willing to invest a small amount of money and a few months of time to give it a try.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol extracted from birch bark that has anti-microbial qualities and seems to particularly work against streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities--

Here's a good source for low-calorie xylitol mints that offer 1/2 gram of xylitol per 1.2 calorie mint. (The recommended dose is 6 to 10 grams of xylitol per day.) I'm also trying xylitol in crystallized form (use it like sugar--only about 2/3 as sweet, but one or two cups of coffee a day sweetened with xylitol gives you the recommended dose of xylitol).

In addition, I'm using Dr. John's herbal lollipops, formulated by Dr. Wen-yuan Shi. This sugar-free lollipop uses stabilized Glycyrrhizol A, a licorice root extract that has been stablized to eliminate its ancillary tendency to slightly increase blood pressure.

Here's an article extract from a paper that Dr. Shi presented to the International Journal of Oral Science on the benefit of this formulation.

Here's another interesting article by Dr. Shi on oral health and cavity prevention.

This article discusses the benefits of xylitol, offering some pretty strong documentation in support of its positive effects on dental health.

And here's an article that's particularly intriguing and shows a great deal of promise for future developments, as it discusses his work on a targeted anti-microbial peptide (which I suspect is a part of the super mouthwash he is developing).

If you want to know more about that mouthwash, here's the news story that first alerted me to research and development efforts currently underway (and yes, they involve Dr. Shi).

If you want to check out Dr. Shi's credentials, here you go--it's obvious this isn't some herbal-health guru, but a trained professional who knows his stuff.

And finally here's a link to Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, a book that offers a lot of good info about all of this; it's available in print form or as an eBook.

Hope some of this does some good for anyone else out there who, like me, feels like dental health is a losing battle in spite of multiple daily brushings, flossings, mouthwash applications, etc.

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