Tag Archives: stress

Hearing What the Body Is Saying

A couple Septembers ago, I wrote about how,

if we begin to listen to the body, we begin to get a deeper appreciation for its intricate workings and an understanding of how our actions affect it – what makes it feel better and work more effectively; what strains and stresses it. We are then in a position to be much more pro-active about our health. We gain more control of it…and our physical destiny.

Yet many people aren’t and don’t, often acting as though health and illness are always and only matters of chance, not choice. Maybe the familiar and sad statistic isn’t all that surprising, then: 70% of all deaths each year are due to chronic disease. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one, and 75% of all health care dollars spent each year goes to treating them. (And we wonder why “health care” costs are so high?!) Most all of them are totally preventable – not through drugs, surgery or other conventional treatment but the lifestyle choices we make.

Two of the most common blocks to good health – dental/oral and systemic – are poor diet and chronic stress. Both keep the body from getting and assimilating all the nutrients it needs to function well. Stress – mental and physical – keeps the body constantly on “high alert,” which interferes with normal metabolic activity and weakens the immune system, making us more vulnerable to disease. It can also aggravate poor food choices, even as poor nutrition can increase stress. (Talk about a vicious cycle!)

Dentally, under these conditions, we may see more gum disease and tooth decay. Where stress-induced clenching and grinding are issues, we see TMJ and other pain problems, as well as damaged teeth and recessed gums, accompanied by tooth sensitivity. (And despite what some ads say, toothpaste for sensitive teeth does not “cure” the problem, which is exposed root or dentin. It just lets you brush sensitive teeth more comfortably.)

Thus, providing comprehensive holistic dental care often means dealing with these related matters of nutrition and stress. We regularly provide testing and consultation to patients – both those undergoing intensive treatment to remove oral blocks to optimal health (e.g., mercury fillings, root canals, cavitations) and those simply wanting to do all they can to support their health and well-being. Previously, I told you about ART for nutritional testing. This week, I’d like to tell you about a couple of other tools that help us provide a higher level of care to the patients we see.

The first is a device called Nano SRT. This bioelectric assessment and therapeutic tool first identifies physical stressors – chemical, biological and environmental – that may be a drag on health. It provides a report showing the substances and substance groups identified, severity levels and the likelihood of negative health effects stemming from the stressors. It can then be used to help correct the body’s response to them by recalibrating the body’s response via frequencies developed as a result of the biofeedback test. Unique to each individual, they’re transmitted by LED light to various meridian points on the body. Nutritional support and supplementation are also used to help restore balance.

The process is safe, non-invasive, fast and painless. Typically, treatment takes from 6 to 8 visits – one for the initial evaluation and then several follow-up visits to monitor changes and make adjustments as needed.

You can learn more about the device here.

The other new scanning tool we use is ZYTO, which gives us a glimpse of the body’s internal communications. Focusing on this gives us another way work with you to develop a proper protocol of nutrition, supplementation and other lifestyle adjustments to improve physical function and overall health and wellness. As the manufacturer explains,

By interacting energetically with your body the ZYTO software will essentially ‘ask your body questions’ and record your body’s responses or ‘answers’. Information gathered in this way can help you be more proactive about your health and help you and your healthcare provider make better decisions regarding your healthcare.

The ZYTO scan is safe, easy and, most importantly, accurate. One pilot study (PDF) showed an 87% “congruity in the disease assessment” between scan results and those from conventional diagnostic workups. The study’s authors include Dr. William Tiller, esteemed researcher and author of Science and Human Transformation, an exploration of the effects of subtle energies on human consciousness.

You can learn more about ZYTO here.

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Diet & Nutrition

Natural Ways to Deal with Stress-Induced Teeth Grinding

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Ever since the economic meltdown, the news has been peppered with stories about dentists seeing more patients who clench their teeth, grind and brux. According to a Chicago Dental Society poll, “Nearly 75 percent of dentists surveyed said their patients reported increased stress in their lives. And 65 percent of dentists said they have seen an increase in jaw clenching and teeth grinding amongst their patients.” As recovery from the recession appears to be slow-going, it’s no great leap to presume that these habits may become chronic.

There are several reasons for concern, not the least of which is the pain that can result – headaches and pain throughout the jaw, face and neck, even into the shoulders and upper back. Chronic clenching and grinding also damage the teeth over time, wearing down the biting surfaces or even chipping the teeth. Occulsion – how the teeth come together in a bite – also may be thrown out of alignment, which can further contribute to pain.

Moreover, the psychological stress itself may contribute to other dental problems. Research published last year in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene demonstrated that elevated stress increases the levels of inflammatory markers in the gingival crevicular fluid and of cortisol in saliva. Study subjects also had inflamed gums and more dental biofilm (plaque) on their teeth – conditions that pave the way for increased caries (cavities) and gum disease. Compounding these problems are the fact that, as research published in the Journal of Periodontology has shown, more than half of us neglect regular brushing and flossing when stressed.

Times like now, when national and global problems can contribute so much to our stress load – problems that we can’t do much about individually – it becomes more important than ever to do what we can to manage our stress and not let it get the best of us.

Some ways of managing stress can also help you reduce grinding and the damage it can do:

  • Eat well.
    Eating a nutritionally dense diet based on whole foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, can minimize inflammation while giving your body the nutrients it needs for good health. Avoid processed foods that are high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, which just adds to muscle tension when you’re under stress.
  • Get a massage.
    Therapeutic massage or other body work can help by both soothing the pain and loosening the muscles, working the tension out of the body. You can even massage your neck and jaw yourself to do this. If you choose to use a therapist, consider finding one who’s qualified to provide craniosacral manipulation, as it can be particularly helpful for releasing tension and easing pain in the face, neck and upper body.
  • Get some acupuncture done.
    Acupuncture can be used for general relaxation or for dealing with pain. In fact, more and more studies are showing the real benefits of acupuncture for reducing pain, including that associated with clenching and grinding, as well as TM joint disorders (TMD). Though many of us flinch at the thought of needles, when performed by a well-trained and qualified acupuncturist, the procedure is not at all painful or uncomfortable.
  • Take supplements before sleep.
    Most people who grind do so at night, so taking supplements to help relax both body and mind can help reduce the amount of nighttime grinding. Magnesium and calcium supplements taken together are wonderful for relaxing the muscles. Valerian root and chamomile are excellent calming herbs. Most bedtime teas include one or the other in addition to other calming herbs such as passionflower, lemon balm, mugwort, St. John’s wort and lavender.
  • Exercise.
    Exercise is well-known to reduce stress and anxiety, thanks in part to the release of endorphins: opiate-like neurochemicals that reduce pain and give the sense commonly known as a “runner’s high.” Also, moderate exercise keeps your body – including your immune system – strong and healthy, more resilient to stress. Activities such as yoga and tai chi may be especially helpful in that they combine both mental and physical processes, releasing stress.
  • Meditate.
    Taking a mental and physical time-out to slow down, breathe deep and focus beyond immediate problems and stressors can also provide for greater calmness and mindfulness – states that make us better able to deal with stress and problems in our daily lives. Some people choose prayer, while others choose zen-style meditation, and yet others may do guided visualization or any other sort of meditative activity. The key is to find the meditative style that works best for you.

Your dentist, of course, can also help. Typically, the first step is to provide you with a molded plastic mouthguard fitted to your teeth to help cushion and absorb the pressure from grinding. Using such a “night guard” – so called because it’s worn during sleep, when most grinding tends to occur – can often reduce the strength and frequency of headaches and other pain resulting from these behaviors.

To learn more about this topic and other treatment options, see “Why Your Jaw, Face, Head and Neck Might Hurt – and What We Can Do to Help” at drerwin.com.

 

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Filed under Dental Health