Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prevent Cavities and Cancer: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamin

Oral health (the condition of the teeth and gums) is strongly associated with serious health problems. Cancer is among these problems. People with cancer have a higher average number of cavities than people without cancer. Counting dental cavities is a good way to assess the risk of cancer. Cancer and cavities are strongly associated because they are both caused by failure of some of the same basic metabolic pathways inside our cells. Cavities should be taken very seriously. Every effort should be made to prevent them.

Like the risk of cancer, the risk of cavities increases with age. The older you are, the more important it is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Due to aging, it is more difficult to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is also more difficult to keep your body free of cancer. Cancer is difficult to detect. Cavities are obvious. Gum health is obvious. Everyone should be aware that protecting teeth and gums from cavities and periodontal disease also protects them from cancer.

Cavities are caused by poor nutrition. This is a well-documented fact from the 19th and 20th centuries. During this period, dozens of isolated, indigenous populations joined the modern economy. Time and again, when indigenous populations switched to a modern diet, the prevalence of cavities increased dramatically. Subsequent research has proven that the most important “anti-cavity” factors in the indigenous diet/lifestyle are vitamins. Read more here. The recommended daily allowances of vitamins are insufficient to maximize cavity prevention. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Cavities can also be a sign of chronic, difficult to detect infections with bacterium, parasites, or other micro-organisms. I was surprised to learn that there are scientists publishing papers suggesting that chronic, low-grade infections with micro-organisms contribute to almost every chronic disease. It is surprisingly uncommon to try anti-biotics and other anti-microbials to combat chronic diseases. I suspect that's because these drugs, on their own, aren't effective. It's almost unknown to try vitamins and drugs together - despite the obvious logic. The drugs attack the microbes directly, while the vitamins accelerate wound healing and improve immune function. Vitamins and drugs work better together than they do separately. If you are suffering from a chronic health problem, why not try vitamins and antibiotics together? Proven bacterium-caused chronic health problems such as ulcers are often treated with a 3-month course of tetracycline or equivalent antibiotic.

Counting cavities is a good way to establish at an early age what individuals in the population need extra vitamins. In old age, the high prevalence of cavities and lost teeth suggests that the recommended daily allowances of vitamins are inadequate for the majority. A higher incidence of cavities and lost teeth are part of the aging process. Optimizing vitamin intake will not stop aging. But it will help you to age gracefully. There is no reason for your teeth to age faster than the rest of your body. Our healthcare system provides excellent services for keeping your teeth healthy. By using orthodontia to keep your teeth in the right place, and then by brushing, flossing, fluoriding, and cleaning every three months, properly nourished teeth will last more than 100 years.

The importance of dental health puts the women (there aren’t many men in these jobs yet) who clean our teeth at the forefront of the healthcare system. Twice a year they have a roughly 45-minute opportunity to compare the health of our teeth to our neighbor’s teeth, and then to teach us about best practices for keeping teeth healthy. Vitamin supplements and sunshine have become part of that conversation. The best dental offices are helping their patients adjust vitamin intake.

Most people don’t like talking about the vitamin supplements they are taking. It’s embarrassing. Healthy people shouldn’t need pills. And vitamin supplements – even 1 RDA multivitamins – cause side effects. Admitting to side effects is also embarrassing. The dental chair is proving to be a good place to discuss vitamin supplement strategies to maximize benefits and minimize side effects.

If you are a senior citizen, and you are not taking vitamin supplements, and you’re not going out into the sun to get extra vitamin D, then the odds are that your teeth are deteriorating. If your teeth are deteriorating, then you are at high risk for cancer. Find a dental office that will help you put together a supplement program. Stop cavities and prevent cancer at the same time by implementing the program. Measure the results by tracking the health of your teeth.


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