In this podcast, Dr. Nammy Patel outline the benefits of regular dental care and cleanings. She talks about oral as well as whole body benefits.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. 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 & Healthy Living, and Total Wellness: Understanding the Link Between Your Teeth and Your Health.
Today, our topic is the benefits of regular dental checkups and cleanings. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi John. Thank you for having me. This is my favorite topic.
Most Important Benefits of Regular Checkups
John: That’s great. I should say, what are some of the most important benefits of regular dental checkups and cleanings? How can those preventative measures help patients to avoid the more serious oral health issues down the line?
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. John, this is a really, really, really, really great question, and I’ll start off by saying what it’s going to help us avoid because I feel like that’s our number one motivating factor majority of the time. So if we don’t go through regular dental checkups, what it’s going to do is going to give us pain. It’s going to cost us a lot more money.
We can lose our teeth and can have systemic concerns like cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, atopic pregnancy, and those are things that I actually don’t want for anyone. And that’s why regular dental checkups are super important. And I actually recommend that we do dental checkups and cleanings every three to four months, the majority of the time.
Why You Should Go in Every Three Months
John: So I’d say that a lot of dentists would say every six months. So why is it that every three to four months is better?
Dr. Nammy: The reason every three to four months is better is because we’re now discovering so much more about the oral microbiome and how it’s related to the rest of the body and how important it is in longevity and how important it is to prevent disease and dysfunction.
We are now finding that the majority of the patients are mouth breathing. It has to do with how we’ve evolved as human beings. Our sinus cavities have become smaller and we’re breathing through our mouth. If we’re breathing through our mouth, there’s a dry environment and it’s creating some more bacterial growth than we normally would have. And those specific bacteria are the ones that are causing the heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, and everything I just mentioned to you a couple of minutes ago.
And so when you come in every three months, we’re actually able to get them cleaned up and removed so that way you are living a healthy lifestyle.
So now it’s actually a really interesting thing because it was recommended, gosh, American Dental Association has been around for a long time. I think it’s like 50, 100 years or something like that. And that’s when the recommendation for going in twice a year is where it came up, and it really isn’t enough anymore concerning the type of food that we’re eating. The soil doesn’t really have the nutrients that it used to, so the quality of food isn’t where it used to be.
And also, we’re eating more processed foods. As we’re eating more processed foods, our mouth is filled with carbohydrates majority of the time, and then when it’s filled with carbohydrates, it’s just a brewing ground for bacteria.
Pretty much everything we eat, or 80% of the things that we have, their ingredients are hidden. We don’t really even know a hundred percent what it has. It usually comes out of a package or is a powder, even a protein shake? A natural protein shake is a perfect example. A granola bar is an example of processed food. So everything that exists has some sort of carbohydrates and also processed ingredients that are harder for the body to digest. Also makes the oral microbiome overgrow or imbalance, and that’s a reason I recommend every three months.
John: We are eating a lot more sugar now these days as well than we did say 50 years ago as well.
Dr. Nammy: And everything breaks down to sugar. So carbohydrate goes to sugar, high fructose corn syrup goes to sugar, grains go to sugar. Pretty much everything that we’re having in our mouth is going to sugar in one form or another.
Types of Exams in Regular Dental Checkups
John: If you’re going to the dentist every three months, what types of exams and procedures do you typically include in those visits?
Dr. Nammy: So the majority of my patients, we’re a highly specialized practice, and we now know that certain bacteria are resistant to cleanings, so our cleanings are involved. We use oxygenated water to be able to clean the gums to remove the biofilm. We also hand scale the area. We also use ozone to help remove certain bacteria that are resistant to cleanings as well as lasers.
Some bacteria will respond to lasers, some bacteria will respond to ozone. So we alternate on how we do that process. And when we do our checkups, I’m looking for the progression of gum disease. What I’m looking for is a progression of… For the majority of my patients, I’ve had them for over 10 years. So we look at what their gums looked like 10 years ago and what they look like now and where they are in their age group, what should we be looking for next?
So what are some things that I can recommend for them that are going to be very important, especially my patients when in their forties, late thirties, early forties, women have a lot of hormonal changes. So at that time, I’m having that conversation with like, Hey, how are your periods? How’s the bleeding? Because it actually has a direct impact on the mouth and how much it bleeds and how much bacteria is growing in there. So we make modifications based on that. And we are also able to do early detection.
We do oral cancer screening with a special light that allows us to see what’s going on in the mouth. We now know that oral cancer is on the rise by 40% per year, which is huge. And to have early detection, to have in on these things so early is making a huge impact on how long we live and how comfortable we can have a great life. And also it helps us to stay young and look young and feel good.
Oral Cancer Is Increasing
John: Where do you think that oral cancer increase is coming from? Because people are not smoking as much as they used to and that sort of thing, what are the other factors?
Dr. Nammy: I feel like it’s environmental, with the quality of air that we have. It’s actually interesting, a couple of months ago I was taking my continuing education class on heart attacks and gum disease. And so I was really shocked to find that pollution is now a risk factor for heart attacks. And just like that, we’re finding that because pollution, our soil, the foods that we’re eating, it’s in it, you’ve got acid rain coming.
If it’s in our air, it’s going to be in our clouds, it’s going to be in our water system, and it’s a whole ecosystem. So when it’s coming into our bodies, our bodies aren’t able to process it. And even our milk has hormones in it. So it’s disrupting our entire system because everything’s synthetic.
Customized Oral Health Plans
John: Right, absolutely. So how do holistic dentists like yourself customize your approach to preventative care based on each patient’s individual needs and risk factors? And how do you help a patient to develop a personalized oral health plan?
Dr. Nammy: Well, my easiest way to do that is I know my patients, I’m taking the time to get to know their medical history. I’m taking the time to know what’s going on with them. Before they come in, I’ve researched their charts, I’ve already looked at a couple of years worth of x-rays, and I know what I’m looking for because of my experience, and I know where they’re headed. For example, my patients with acid reflux, I can see their saliva is a little ropy. I can see their saliva is, I can smell it on them so I can see how they’re doing.
And I’ve already given them some probiotics to work with or some things that they’re using at home, maybe hot water with lemon before they go to bed to help with acidity levels or perhaps some prebiotics increasing in the nitrogen, which would be a lot of green smoothies and things like that. So I’m already giving them those recommendations. I’m seeing how they respond, and I can see it in their mouth, and I’m actually able to see their response in their mouth pretty instantaneously, which is pretty amazing because acid reflux can go away really quickly as soon as you alkalize the body.
Oral Warning Signs of Health Issues
John: Right. Now you mentioned that bleeding gums is a common thing to watch for that might indicate a larger problem. Are there some other types of warning signs that patients should be aware of that might indicate a potential issue coming down the road?
Dr. Nammy: I feel like pain is obviously one, anytime there’s sensitivity come on in and honestly, just be more routine. Because it used to be that there used to be a sequence, but because we’re dealing with air pollution, soil quality, things like that, it’s actually really interesting. Sometimes there’s no specific pattern to exactly what’s going on, but most things I will say is be routine, be consistent, be boring.
I like to say be boring. Boring is interesting because when you go in, when you’re systematic about things, you’ll see greater results, you’ll also see less surprises, which is exactly what you want with your health.
Contact Green Dentistry to Learn More
John: All right. That’s great advice. Dr. Nammy, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415 433 0119.