The Strawberry and Basil Martini

21 02 2013

strawberry and basil martini

I am having dinner at Ristorante Settepani in Harlem observing people sitting at the table nearby enjoying their food, laughing, discussing, talking and just having a good time.  To me, the mouth is one of the most important parts of the body that we so often take for granted until it has a problem.  So, instead of just keeping all of this information to myself, let me share some of the insights I have with over 20 years as a dentist.

While sipping a very delicious strawberry and basil martini, I felt the cool pieces of strawberries on my tongue and the small strawberry seeds that when you bite down you feel them between your teeth.  It is fascinating to me just how sensitive the nerve endings in the mouth can on the one hand allow you to bit into a large hard apple, yet still be able to detect the very miniscule small strawberry.  Not to mention that our mouth is critical to bite, chew, and grind food down into small particles to enable proper digestion.

I observe a very intense discussion with a group at a table, where a lot of loud talking and laughing ensue.  Suffice it to say that I cannot hear the details of the conversation, but, what I note is how the lips, teeth and tongue come together in distinct ways to create different sounds.   In order to create the sounds “th” , “s”, “m”, … every letter in the alphabet and all of words that we speak,  it is critical that we use our mouths.  Have you ever spoken to someone who has no teeth, or wears ill fitting dentures?  They cannot speak properly or enunciate their words.

Finally, the laughter!  We take so for granted a beautiful smile.  But each and every one of us first made the connection with our significant relationship from the first look, that smile.  Even if you date online, you must show upload a picture if you want to get any response.  It is quite tragic to see people who place their hand in front of their mouths, or keep their mouth almost shut, for fear and embarrassment when they have missing teeth, or teeth that are broken down.

I will admit, I love to eat!  My passion is Dental Health.  I see little children from the first tooth that comes into their mouth, to older patients, who are trying to hold onto their last teeth, and the whole spectrum in between.   I would like to prop up the status of the MOUTH and give it the respect it is due.  I know that there is strong correlation between oral health and general health.  As our community sees increases in diseases such as diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, etc. the mouth, and oral cavity play such an important part.  As a New Yorker and foodie, I am confessing my oral fixations and hope to provide some positive “food for thought” about the mouth, the oral cavity, healthy food choices and healthy habits and try to live a little bit healthier.

A “Food Network”  Recipe for the Strawberry and Basil Martini

Ingredients
7 basil leaves with stems
1-ounce strawberry puree
1 cup ice cubes
2 1/2 ounces soju (Korean vodka)
1/2-ounce lime juice
1/2-ounce sweet and sour mix
1/2-ounce strawberry syrup
Directions

In a 16-ounce cocktail shaker, add the basil leaves and the strawberry puree. Muddle until the basil leaves are broken into pieces. Add the ice cubes, then add the soju, lime juice, sweet and sour mix and strawberry syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain the drink into a 7-ounce chilled martini glass and serve cold.

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.





A Funny Thing Happened in the Subway

20 02 2013

false teeth

One of my patients had me laughing hysterically when she told me the story of a man she observed in the subway this week.  She said he seemed partially asleep as she was on the 2 train in the evening, however,  he woke up to sneeze.  As he was sneezing his denture projected out of his mouth and he caught it in midair in his hands.  He was so embarrassed, that he place his head down, held the denture in his hands for the next two stops, then when the subway doors closed again, he popped it back in his mouth, and proceeded to open a bag of potato chips and started eating them.  Well, envisioning the situation, it just seemed hilarious as she described the situation, however, it must have been very embarrassing for the poor gentleman.

We really take our teeth for granted, until we lose them.  I see patients everyday who come into my office, and, it’s been a very long time since their last dental visit.  When they come to see me, they are in pain.  It really sometimes takes some convincing to get them to save the teeth, instead of their normal reaction to extract them or have them removed.  Dental pain is some of the worst pain you can have, and patients are always ready do get rid of their teeth, to alleviate the pain forever.  I always let them know, that the interrelationship of the teeth together is so critical, and that once you start down the road to extractions, it really becomes a never ending spiral.  Because, at the other extreme, I have patients who I see in my office, usually middle aged who have lost many teeth.  At this point they ask the dentist to perform a miracle and try and save the few teeth they have remaining.  These are always the same patients who confess “I wish I had listened to my dentist when I was younger” at the time, because of pain, and sometimes finances, I just wanted them removed, and I did not want to listen to the dentist.

Each of your teeth are very valuable parts of the body.  You wouldn’t have pain on a finger or leg, and have the doctor remove the finger or leg?  There is a reason why our creator (whomever, that may be for you) decided that 32 teeth is what are necessary for proper chewing, speaking and digesting.  Once we start removing teeth, you are considered dentally crippled.  The sense of casualness that people have toward their teeth, and caring for their teeth worries me alot.  People are very casual about their teeth,  these vital parts of your body, until the day that you have none…you are in the subway…you sneeze…

Your teeth are some of the most important parts of your body.  It is so important that we always treat them as such!

 

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.





Mandatory Toothbrushing? (Here is a reprint of an article from the NY Times Magazine from last weekend)

19 02 2013

Who Made That Toothbrush?

Jens Mortensen for The New York Times
By PAGAN KENNEDY
“I don’t have any of those toothbrushes that went to the moon,” says Dr. Ben Swanson, former president of the American Academy of the History of Dentistry. He was speaking from his basement, where he stores his trove of 40,000 artifacts related to dental history. Swanson once dreamed of owning every kind of toothbrush in existence, but ended up stockpiling only a few hundred. “I had to give up because there were so many of them,” he says. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to collect every specimen; the toothbrush is one of the most reinvented of human objects, with thousands of patents on file.

The story starts in China during the Middle Ages, when people began grooming their teeth with animal bristles. Legend has it that centuries later, William Addis, generally recognized as the first to patent the toothbrush, served time in Newgate prison in London, where he whittled down a bone and stuck it full of bristles.

Even when toothbrushes migrated to the corner store, many people preferred to rub their teeth with a rag. As late as the 1920s, “many Americans did not brush their teeth,” Swanson says. One reason is that those early toothbrushes could tear up your mouth — the tip of a boar bristle, under a microscope, resembles a spear. By the 1940s, synthetics offered a solution. One ad trumpeted: “For years, only hog bristle made fine tooth brushes. Then Science made round-end Prolon” — its soft bristles were designed to preserve the gums.

The advent of plastics also meant that toothbrushes could take any shape imaginable. And so brushes jingled and hummed tunes. They arrived on the drugstore shelf enshrined in hermetic tubes. They boasted “anti-soggy” bristles.

Asked to pick a favorite toothbrush from his collection, Swanson says he’s fond of a model that cleans both sides of the teeth at once. “You remember the Reach toothbrush with the angled head?” he says. “One year they came out with a brush that had two heads.” But the design failed to catch on. In the world of toothbrushes, apparently, two heads are not always better than one.

BRUSH HEAD

Vermin Supreme, a performance artist, has run for president many times; he espouses “mandatory-toothbrushing laws.”

You often carry a giant toothbrush to scrub away the decay that clings to public monuments. I’ve scrubbed many, many landmarks. I scrubbed the Kremlin back in ’98. We had a mandatory-toothbrushing parade; we had the text of the mandatory-toothbrush law translated into Russian. And we had like 30 Russians; we had musicians; we had the giant toothbrushes. The police came and told us to stop, and we stopped. It was a beautiful thing.

So what would these mandatory-toothbrushing laws involve? Secret dental police. Government-issued toothpaste containing an addictive yet harmless substance. Computer-dental-chip implants to keep track of you and your children for your protection. For too long this nation has been suffering a great moral and oral decay.

Over the last 25 years, you’ve pushed lots of politicians to answer tough questions about oral hygiene. That’s right. When I asked Bob Dole if he supported mandatory-toothbrushing laws, his response was, “As long as it’s locally controlled.”

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.





EIGHT BENEFITS OF TOOTH BRUSHING-THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR TEETH

11 02 2013

brushing

We are all aware that brushing your teeth on a regular basis prevents cavities and keeps you smiling.  But there are many other surprising benefits, including these eight that don’t have to do with your teeth!

  1. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, participants who did not brush on a regular basis had a 65 percent greater chance of developing dementia compared to those who did brush.  So don’t forget to brush!
  2. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that regular brushing decreases the chance of stroke!  Wow – two very serious diseases can be curtailed with good oral hygiene.  And the list goes on…
  3. As any dentists, hygienist or physician can tell you, regular brushing (and flossing) helps to prevent gum disease.  But you may not know that along with causing stinky breath and unattractive smiles, gum disease is a major indicator of heart disease and the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.
  4. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology has shown that increased brushing decreases the risk of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and COPD.  Why, Bacteria which form on the teeth make their way into the lungs and respiratory tract, wreaking havoc along the way.
  5. Dental researcher Dr. Caitia Gazola has shown that having healthy teeth and gums increases the chances of having healthy babies, while dental disease can cause underweight pre-term babies.  And men- you aren’t off the hook!  WE strongly suspect that not brushing your teeth regularly can exclude you from the whole pregnancy process!
  6. Prevention Magazine has reported that regular brushing can help you maintain a healthy weight!  Why? Brushing your teeth indicates to your brain that mealtime is over.  Plus – food just doesn’t taste as good with squeaky clean teeth!
  7.  Okay guys – here’s your turn.  Several studies have shown that men with poor oral hygiene are at greater risk for erectile dysfunction.  Scared yet???
  8.  Have a heart – a healthy one that is!  The American Journal of Medicine has linked dental health with heart attack risk.

So if clean teeth, fresh breath, a beautiful smile and fewer cavities aren’t enough, here are eight reasons why brushing your teeth on a regular basis can save your life!  Plus let’s face it – going around with a big piece of lettuce stuck between your chompers is not the most attractive look in the world!

brush or die

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.





GO DADDY???!!!

7 02 2013

kiss with bar rafa

I know this Go Daddy ad sparked quite a lot of controversy after Sunday’s Super Bowl.  Many were uncomfortable about the “geek” kissing the beautiful woman.  Some were wondering about the appropriateness of that intimacy of affection during prime time.  Frankly, as a dentist, some other thoughts also ran through my mind.  So, with St. Valentine’s day coming up next week, now would be an appropriate time to share these thoughts with you.

Did you know that bacteria can be passed between two people by mouth to mouth contact?  The same goes with sharing your toothbrush.  What about sharing that appetizer? Maybe a little smooching on the couch? Bacteria can be passed between people not just through toothbrushes or other dental implements, but also from shared silverware or any other mouth-to-mouth contact.  Parents and children are not immune either, and bacteria can be passed between them. The family pet may even serve as the source of a bacterial infection.Did you know that the bacteria that causes juvenile periodontitis can be transferred from the infected site to an uninfected site within the same mouth? Even between a husband and wife, there can be bacterial transfer.

Recurring dental infections are commonly caused by infected toothbrushes. In addition to dental problems, a toothbrush may also result in the formation of a bacteremia (bacterial infection in the bloodstream) which, if left untreated, can lead to endocarditis (infection of the heart). A typical toothbrush may be infested with various viruses and bacteria, which can then be transmitted to a new user.

For example, if the toothbrush owner has the herpes simplex virus, 50% of the virus can remain on the toothbrush for up to a week. If you suffer from gum inflammation (gingivitis), you may be able to find relief by using a new toothbrush every two weeks. Wondering if it’s still okay to share a toothbrush with someone you trust?

We now understand that oral infections are not restricted to the mouth but can move through the body and be transmitted that way to other people. You don’t need to become obsessive about your toothbrush, and you can still share a sample at your favorite restaurant, but for your own well-being and that of your family, you should develop a good dental health program.

You can remove 100% of the bacteria on your toothbrush by soaking in an essential oils mouthrinse for 20 minutes. Another good way to clean your toothbrush is ultraviolet light. You may have seen a toothpaste that contains triclosan, a common disinfectant, that claims to clean your toothbrush; however, recent studies* show that this toothpaste is not very effective at removing bacteria.

What are the best ways to eliminate the bacteria that are on your toothbrush? Place them under ultraviolet light, soak them in a mouthrinse with essential oils, or, perhaps easiest of all, replace your old toothbrush with a fresh new one on a routine basis. There’s not much you can do about the kissing since most people won’t want to give that up…just keep an eye on the health of your mate’s mouth!

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
 

 

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.

 





Are my mercury fillings making me mad?

5 02 2013

mercury fillings

The amalgam or mercury fillings used commonly in dentistry contain up to 50 percent mercury.  Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that most scientists believe can be harmful to your health. The name “Mad Hatter” was inspired by the phrase “as mad as a hatter”.   Mercury was used in the process of curing felt used in some hats, making it impossible for hatters to avoid inhaling the mercury fumes given off during the hat making process; hatters and mill workers thus often suffered mad hatter disease, mercury poisoning causing neurological damage including confused speech and distorted vision  Mercury has been removed from the shelves in our pharmacies and drug stores, because we know the dangers of inhaling mercury.

You can no longer get mercurochrome antiseptic nor mercury thermometers at the pharmacy, because the FDA has deemed the mercury to be hazardous to your health.

The manufacturers of mercury fillings themselves place warning labels on the outside of their containers.  The labels state that mercury fillings are nephrotoxic, neurotoxic.  It states that they are skin sensitizers, that they should not be used in small children, or expectant mothers, the list of warnings goes on and on.

When you have a mercury, or amalgam filling placed, your dentist can no longer use a squeeze cloth to remove the excess mercury before placing a filling.  The amalgamators (what we use to mix the filling together) have to be sealed so that while the mixing process is taking place, the mercury vapors are not released.  An amalgam separator is a special apparatus required to be in place in all dental offices to ensure that as you are removing the mercury fillings, the mercury do not get into the water supply once it is out of your mouth.  In translation, before the mercury filling is placed in your mouth it is toxic, and after it is removed from your mouth, it is toxic.  Why does the ADA say that during the time the fillings are in your mouth, they are safe?

Because it is very challenging to diagnose when a symptom in your body is the result of mercury toxins from your teeth, the ADA still allows for the placement of these fillings in our mouths.  They are also more cost-effective than some of the other materials that we use to restore teeth.

But the bottom line is there are other options, the composite fillings, and porcelain restorations look most natural,and they are a safer option for you.  In future blogs, I will discuss safe protocols for mercury removal.  But suffice it to say, when you go to your dentist to have fillings placed, insist on other options.  They are out there!

 

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.





HAPPY, THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL!

28 01 2013

2011.11.07_13-59-29SG020013-Happy Birthday Cake-1Kg

Ok, this is the mantra that I tell my teenage son all the time.  He should be happy, thankful, and grateful.  That’s our mantra.  We should be happy for all of the many blessings that we have in our lives.  Thankful that although we may not have some material possessions that others may have, it does not matter.  Grateful we have people in our lives that love us, that we have our health, and that we are able to do things that may in some way help to make someone else feel better, or improve their lives in some way are the things that should give us so much joy.  Well, today I was inundated with cakes, cupcakes, flowers, gifts, food, and so many, many wonderful wishes.  Today is my birthday.  Not a reason to blog, no real information today, however, I did want to make sure I told everyone, my wonderful family, my wonderful friends, and my Morningside Dental Care family, our patients and my exceptional staff (woot, woot!!!), that I am so happy, thankful and grateful to have them in my lives, and I cannot express the pure joy that I have of knowing them.  Thank you for making my birthday so very, very special!!!!!!!!  Tomorrow, I will have time to write a blog.

Dr. Donna

ps.  I truly overdosed on sugar today.  Well, here is a dental healthcare tip.  First, drink copious amounts of water as soon as you are finished eating the sugary food.  Make sure you brush and floss to raise the ph of your mouth to decrease the exposure of acids.  Finally, it is much better to eat all of the junk food in one sitting, and then throw the rest of it out, instead of nibbling on it over a few days.  If you eat it at one time, the ph of your mouth only drops one time.  If you eat a little bit over time, the ph of your mouth goes up and down like a yo-yo.  Every time you decrease the ph  you increase the frequency of the acid buildup in your mouth and you are more prone to decay and cavities.  So if you must binge, do it all at once and then get rid of the rest.
 

 

Dr Donna Williams

Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.

 








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