In this podcast, Dr. Nammy explains that mouth breathing is often the number one cause of dental problems. Then, she talks about other causes of dental problems and gives listeners tips on how to improve their oral health.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental, health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling books, Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living, and Total Wellness: Understanding the Link Between your Teeth and your Health.
Today, our topic is common dental problems and how to prevent them. Welcome Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Thank you for having me, John.
Warning Signs of Common Dental Problems
John: Sure. So today, Dr. Nammy, we want to give some people some tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. What are some of the most common dental problems that patients face, and what are some of the warning signs that might indicate a potential issue?
Dr. Nammy: The interesting part about the most common dental problem that patients face and what the warning signs are, is actually related to sleep. It’s actually related to sleep apnea or mouth breathing. And the reason why that is a huge common dental problem is that mouth breathing or snoring or sleep apnea actually causes a lot of gum disease, and it also causes patients to clench and grind their teeth, which breaks them, also causes acid reflux, which cause cavities.
So it actually, the root, root cause of it is actually congested sinuses or a tongue falling back in the throat, and that actually leads to cavities and gum disease and teeth breakage. So that, I would say, is the most common dental problem that I see on a regular basis.
How to Prevent Common Dental Problems
John: And how can patients prevent common dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease and cavities? What are some strategies for promoting good oral hygiene?
Dr. Nammy: Actually, that’s a really good question, and I’m really glad I started with the most common dental problem is actually not just the teeth, we have to get to the root cause. And so if we look at the root cause of the problem, like I was saying earlier, mouth breathing, mouth breathing will make your mouth super dry. It’s going to make bacteria overgrow, and it will cause gum disease and cavities.
The same thing happens when you’re mouth breathing, your body becomes acidic, and if it becomes acidic, it will cause cavities. So as you can see, they’re both interlinked. And so the most important thing to do, and basic thing to do is good oral hygiene. We’ve got to do that, for sure. We’ve got to floss, brush our teeth. And with mouth breathing, I actually recommend putting coconut oil on your gums before you go to bed.
I actually recommend that you clean out your sinuses with a product called XClear. It’s X as an X-ray, and then clear, C-L-E-A-R. And what that does, it is a xylitol spray that you can clean out your sinuses with and that allows you to open up sinuses you can breathe really well through your nose, and it’ll allow you to close your mouth so that way you don’t create a dry environment for cavities and gum disease. So that would be something that I would recommend for you to try at home. Another thing you can add is the coconut oil on the gums that I recommended. Also, mouth taping.
Benefits of Coconut Oil on Your Gums
John: What does coconut oil on the gums do for you at night?
Dr. Nammy: If you’re a mouth breather, if you’re snoring, what’s going to happen with the coconut oil is that it’s actually going to keep your mouth hydrated. So coconut oil actually has an antiseptic property, so it kills bacteria and viruses. And what it’ll actually do is keep your mouth hydrated so bacteria can’t attach to your teeth or gums, which is really nice, and it controls how much of them regrow, which is really cool.
How to Minimize Risk Factors of Oral Health Problems
John: How do other lifestyle factors like diet, smoking and alcohol consumption affect your oral health, and what steps can patients take to minimize those risk factors?
Dr. Nammy: So a diet is going to be really important. How often you are snacking is going to drop the pH, which determines cavities as well as gum disease. Smoking creates a dry environment and also causes free radicals to overgrow, which causes oral cancer as well as dry mouth, which leads to, again, cavities and gum disease.
And then the alcohol consumption, it’s actually really interesting because alcohol is acidic in the mouth, which is just like having acid. Also, if you have alcohol over a period of time, you’ll get dry mouth. And that dry mouth, again, is the same conditions that are going to cause cavities and gum disease.
So what I actually recommend with all of these is if you want to minimize the risks for all of these things, find a… I would say, if you’re going to have alcohol, I understand. We’re social beings, sometimes we like to have a glass of wine. I personally love to have a glass of wine, so I do enjoy my glass of wine, but I make sure I hydrate. So making sure that I’m not dehydrated. I’m making sure that my salivary glands are hydrated enough where my mouth isn’t going to become super dry.
Smoking, I definitely recommend you stop and you look at other ways of coping with why is it that you’re smoking? Is it because of stress? Let’s deal with some stress strategies. Let’s look at, is it just a nervous tic? Let’s find something else that you can actually utilize to become more comfortable, and just finding ways to be able to mitigate and avoid things that are going to cause you disease.
John: Right. What about when a patient feels like they’re just doing everything that you ask, all of the right things, they’re brushing, they’re flossing, they’re doing all of these things, but despite all of their best efforts, they’re still having some dental problems? What are some treatment options that are available for common issues like tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion, and dry mouth when the patient feels like they’re doing everything that they can already?
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. And I absolutely understand that, John. So one of the things that we do for our patients is we actually do a genetic test to figure out what is their genetic type. So we now know that there are certain patients who are going to be more predisposed to inflammation and more predisposed to cavities and gum disease. So when we know those things, what we can do is make sure that we’re providing and be more proactive with these patients.
So there are a lot of different toothpastes that we can utilize for enamel erosion. We can use hydroxyapatite toothpaste that they can use at home. We have trays that we can help patients wear at home. It’s called Perio Protect to help with gum disease. And also for dry mouth, we have certain substitute salivas. So there is a gum you can chew. Stellalife is one of my favorite brands, and they’re really great at helping the mouth stay hydrated. There’s mouth washes you can utilize.
And so these are all really great things to be able to help with tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion and dry mouth. And the most important tools that I have are going to be in my practice. With patients with erosion. I can put something on their teeth, which is going to help give the enamel matrix… It’s going to allow it to build more enamel again, which is really nice because we have technologies advanced enough for us to give high grade powerful tools that we can do on our patients more often, and that’ll yield really great results for a very long time.
And also, you don’t feel like you’re burdened with the chore of having to do all these extra things where it’s like your dental routine is a 30-minute thing. What we can do is couple it with things in the office that we do and things you can do at home to make it super easy for you.
Contact Green Dentistry Today
John: All right. Well, that’s great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-433-0119.