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How Much Do You Know About Fiber? Part 1

Welcome back!  Last week, we finished an article series that discussed the health benefits of whole grains.  A large part of that topic revolved around fiber and, if you’re like me, you probably really don’t know much about dietary fiber and why it is so important for our overall general health.  Well, since inquiring minds simply must know, I did some research and what I learned I want to share with you.   This is what I found out about fiber.

Familiar terms we all know

Most people have heard the terms “soluble” and “insoluble” when fiber is mentioned.  The term “soluble” refers to fibers that bind with fatty acids and slow down the digestive process.  This helps to slow down the release of blood sugar into the blood stream and help to lower LDL levels, cholesterol and help to manage blood sugar levels  especially for people with diabetes.  The “insoluble” form helps to hydrate the intestines and aid in moving the waste products produced by the digestive process and other processes in the body through the intestines, preventing constipation to “keep you regular”.  Insoluble fiber also helps to control the pH levels in our intestines.

How to get the fiber

Most of us get both types of these fibers in two ways:  diet and added “functional” fiber.  The fiber found in our diets essentially comes naturally from fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains that we consume on a daily basis.  “Functional” fiber is created from fiber that has been isolated and extracted from plants or animal sources, enabling it to be added to drinks or foods in an attempt to increase their fiber content.  Functional fiber seems to a growing trend in the food industry at this time.

Which way is recommended?

I have read many articles and dietary food plans that stress eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but I wondered which way was the best for ensuring  the consumption of the appropriate amount of fiber.  Further research has revealed that most nutritionists stress getting the fiber from whole foods instead of adding the functional fiber to food and drinks.  They recommend this because by eating the whole food, we are able to absorb the many other healthy compounds in those whole foods which aren’t present in the functional form of fiber.  The statistics show that the average American typically gets about 15 grams of fiber daily when the recommended amounts are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men aged 50 years and younger!  The nutritionists agree that, if you can’t get the appropriate amount of fiber in your daily diet, then you can fill the gap with the functional type.

I found eight different types of soluble and insoluble fiber in my research.  Next time, we will conclude this topic with a brief discussion of those types of fiber and how they help.  In the meantime, keep up with those regular and routine dental checkups with your Long Island Periodontist.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease in any member of your family with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

 

How Many Health Benefits Can You List For Whole Grains? Part 6

Welcome back! Today we’re going to wrap up this topic and, while some are probably saying “FINALLY!”, I just hope that you have learned something from these posts about this important topic.  So let’s add to what we have already learned about the health benefits of whole grains.

Do you have loved ones who suffer from Asthma?

If you have loved ones or if you personally suffer from asthma, please pay close attention here.  As you are probably doing everything you can to control and reduce the asthmatic episodes, allow me to tell you something you may not already know.  It has been found that the consumption of whole grains early in life may help to ward off asthma and other allergic conditions.  For example, one study has shown that children who were started on oats as infants were less likely to have asthma or allergic rhinitis by the age of five years old.  Additionally, a Dutch study revealed findings that were surprisingly similar, studying children aged 8 years to 13 years.  Ultimately, the findings support an overall healthy diet that includes more whole grains, fruits and veggies, with less meat and refined foods to help reduce the occurrence of asthmatic wheezing.

Other benefits

I will briefly list some of the other health benefits that I found for increasing your consumption of whole grains:

  • Reduce inflammation markers: In addition to asthma as an inflammatory condition eased by the consumption of whole grains, add to that heart disease, type 2 diabetes, premature birth, preeclampsia and fertility problems.  This is accomplished by reduction of several inflammation markers in the gut.
  • May reduce risk of some cancers: There is on-going research into how consumption of whole grains interacts with certain cancers and it looks promising.  While the evidence is somewhat mixed, there remains a strong recommendation to increase whole grain consumption in an attempt to reduce colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancers.
  • Longer life:  One particular study of over 40,000 post menopausal women show that those women who consumed 4 to7 servings a week of whole grains had a 31% decreased risk of dying from causes other than cancer or heart disease as compared to women having few to no whole grains in their diets.  The risk was reduced in men, too, 17% less risk for those eating 1 or more servings of just whole grain cereals everyday.
  • Resistant starch:  The right kind of carb can be beneficial.  Resistant starch is one of those good carbs because it acts more like fiber.  It is not easily digested which allows it to move slowly through the digestive system, increasing the fat burn, stoking the hormones that help you feel satisfied and full. This helps to keep your insulin levels more even, keeping blood sugar and cholesterol levels lower.
  • Oral health protection:  On-going studies continue to reveal a 20+ percent reduction of risk of developing gum disease when a diet rich in whole grains is consumed.  This remained true even after taking smoking, age and body size into consideration.  When you consider that gum disease is liked to inflammation and conditions like heart disease, good oral health is a great deal more than having a healthy smile!

What a great way to conclude this article series!  As always, be sure to keep up with those oh so important dental checkups for every member of your family.  Call your Periodontist on Long Island, Dr. Scharf, at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Many Health Benefits Can You List For Whole Grains? Part 5

Welcome back! Over the past several weeks, we have been talking about whole grains and some of the health benefits we can gain from including them in our daily dietary regimen.  We have talked about the fact that whole grains contain a lot of fiber, how they help in the digestive process, how they help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar and even how they can help to control your weight.  Today, we are going to talk about more health benefits of whole grains, a topic that I hope you have not grown tired of just yet.

How they help control weight

We are all interested in controlling our weight for many reasons, not the least of which is to achieve and maintain good health as we age.  Including or increasing the amount of whole grains in your daily food plan is one of the tools you can utilize to reduce and control your weight.  Here are some ways that this happens:

  • Redistribution of fat:  decreases the amount of body fat you have and leads to a healthier distribution of body fat.  This reduces the “central adiposity” , the unsightly belly fat, to reduce your risk of diabetes and other serious health issues.
  • That “full” feeling:  since whole grains are more complex, the digestive system works harder and takes longer to digest them.  This keeps you feeling “full” longer so you don’t feel the urge to eat as often.  They also help with portion control.
  • Blood sugar regulation:  whole grains help keep your blood sugar more level to reduce those dangerous and uncomfortable spikes that are so consistent with type 2 diabetes.  Keeping your blood sugars more level and consistent will reduce the insulin production required by the pancreas — and, as we all know, insulin is a fat producing hormone!  Including or increasing your intake of whole grains is one of the tools you can use to help control your diabetes or prevent you from stepping over the line.

They deliver vitamins and minerals

While whole grains aren’t abundant sources of calcium, for example, there is one form called “teff” which is a common grain in Ethiopia that contains calcium.  It has  very similar calcium content of that which you get from cooked spinach, broccoli, milk, yogurt and cheese.  Here are a few other vitamins and essential minerals:

  • Vitamin C:  while whole grains isn’t a primary source for vitamin C, you do get some of it.  A whole grain known as Amaranth, which originates in Mexico and Peru, is one which will provide you with your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C as well as iron and a ton of protein.
  • The B vitamins:  here is where whole grains really shine!  They are so rich in thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, for example, which are all helpers in your metabolism.  Folate or Folic Acid is another B vitamin that whole grains can contribute to your daily food plan.  This helps form red blood cells and, for those of you who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it can help prevent some birth defects!
  • Other essential minerals:  Iron for moving oxygen through your body and preventing anemia, magnesium to help build your bones, and selenium to protect against oxidation are just a few of the essential minerals that are available to you by including or increasing the consumption of whole grains on a daily basis.

Next week, I will conclude this article series by discussing some actual health problems that can be positively affected by eating more whole grains.  Until then, don’t forget about those very important follow up checkups with your Periodontist on Long Island to keep your mouth as healthy as possible.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Many Health Benefits Can You List For Whole Grains? Part 4

Hello, again! Today, we are going to talk more about health benefits of whole grains.  In the last segment, we talked specifically about the two types of fiber and how they are beneficial, each in their own way, to our overall good general health.  In this segment, we are going step away from the fiber issue and address some other health benefits of whole grains.

A cholesterol-lowering benefit

Research has found that whole grains can not only help reduce the absorption of the “bad” cholesterol but they also point out that whole grains may play a role in lowering your triglyceride levels.  Since both of these players have roles in the heart disease scenario, and in view of the fact that whole grains can actually lower your risk of heart disease, you will likely agree that inclusion of more whole grains into your daily dietary regimen is in your very best interests.  If you are female, then you might be interested to learn that a study was done that showed females having two to three servings of whole grains in their diets every day were about thirty percent less likely to develop heart disease than those females who ate less than one serving a week!  The whole grains recommended are whole wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, corn, quinoa, rye, buckwheat and millet for the best heart benefits.  If you like oatmeal, they point out that the steel-cut variety is better for you than the instant variety.

Do you have high blood pressure?

Additionally, research has found that whole grains not only help to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, but that they can also lower blood pressure.  High blood pressure is one of the most important and significant risk factors for heart disease.  Hey guys, you get a boost here as well.  Studies have shown that the risk of heart disease decreased by about nineteen percent among those men who ate at  more than seven servings of whole grain breakfast cereal per week when compared to those who ate less than one serving per week.  They found a substantial decrease in cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and insulin levels when whole grains instead of refined grains were incorporated into dietary regimens.

How about that weight issue?

Some of the same research has revealed that men and women who consume whole grains instead of refined grains tend to keep their weight in check and are less likely to put on weight as they age.  In fact, one study showed that women who ate the most wheat germ, brown rice, dark bread, popcorn and other whole grains had a forty-nine percent less chance of having a significant weight increase over time when compared to women who tended to eat donuts and white bread.  Over a period of about 12 years, it was found that middle aged men and women having a higher fiber type of diet gained 3.5 pounds less than those who preferred refined grain products.

There are so many more benefits to talk about and, next time, we’ll talk about a few more.  While I don’t know if we’ll discuss all 18 of the benefits that I discovered, we will try to briefly touch on as many as possible because this is so important for good health especially as we age.  Until, then…keep up with those also very important dental checkups for every member of your family.  Remember that your Long Island Periodontist can detect and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and left him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Many Health Benefits Can You List For Whole Grains ? Part 3

Hi There!  Well here we are again for the next installment in this interesting and important topic.  As you may recall, we have been discussing the health benefits of including whole grains in your dietary regimen.   We have talked about fiber and how it can help in your digestive processes and aid in the lowering of your “bad” cholesterol.  We even talked a little about how the fiber in whole grains can reduce your risk of colon cancers.  Today, before we go on to other health benefits of whole grains, I would like to delve into the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  I think, if you understand these two types of fiber and how they work, the rest of the story will make more sense.  So come along with me while talk more about soluble and insoluble fiber.

First, a definition of each

Soluble and insoluble fibers are terms I am sure you have heard or read in the media.  There are many various types of fibers within each of these two categories.  Because this is such a vital portion of our dietary regimen, I will likely devote a future article or two on the various types of fibers for our overall edification.  Today, however, we will keep it fairly simple so we can move on with our other health benefits of whole grains topic.

Soluble Fiber

This type of fiber actually binds itself with fatty acids and this helps to slow down digestion so that blood sugars don’t “dump” into your blood stream in large amounts.  This large “dump” of blood sugar into your blood stream creates a reaction by the pancreas that results in an insulin push or rush.  This means that your pancreas secretes large amounts of the hormone insulin to deal with the excessive amount of blood sugar in your blood stream.  This is very, very important for those who are dealing with diabetes or pre-diabetes.  Insulin has been called the “fat hormone” because it generally converts that excess blood sugar into fat that deposits itself around the midsection of the body.

Insoluble Fiber

This type of fiber has an important function in the body as well.  It basically hydrates and helps to move the waste through the intestinal tract while at the same time regulating the pH levels of the intestinal tract.  These fibers help to reduce or prevent constipation and aid in keeping you “regular”.

What you need

Most nutritionists recommend getting fiber from consumption of whole foods so that we also get the healthful plant compounds contained in whole foods.  However, if you can’t get enough fiber through your diet, you can add “functional” fibers, like Psyllium, to help fill the gap.  They recommend 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 grams daily for men who are aged 50 years and below.  Daily fiber intake typically is only around 15 grams…so…we have a long way to go to meet our recommended nutritional needs.

Please come back next time for more health benefits of whole grains.  Until then, please be sure to keep up with those very important regular and routine dental checkups.  Call Dr. Scharf, your Long Island Periodontist, at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him educate you on how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

How Many Health Benefits Can You List For Whole Grains ? Part 2

Welcome back! As you may recall, last week we were discussing whole grains and some of the benefits we gain when we eat whole grains versus refined grains. We briefly explained the difference between whole grains and refined grains and the different components of the grain.  Today, we are going to delve into more of the health benefits of whole grains.  For those of you with celiac disease , this information may not be fully utilized in your diet but we ask that you consider family members and friends whom could benefit from the addition of whole grains into their diets.

More on fiber

As we discussed last week, fiber is one of the major reasons why nutritionists recommend including whole grains in your diet.  We mentioned last week that adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fiber in their daily diet and that can be attained as soluble and insoluble types of fiber.  Today, we are going to discuss more reasons to include fiber in your diet:

  • It digests more slowly than other food types and this helps you achieve that “full” feeling that is so satisfying.  This slower digestion will enable you to maintain that satisfying “full” feeling longer which will help you go longer between those “refueling” stops that the body requires.
  • Fiber helps to control blood sugar. This is so important for diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic.
  • Helps to lower the bad cholesterol in your body.  And, really, who wants bad cholesterol anyway?
  • Reduces risk of colon cancer.

We will talk a bit more about each of these things as we progress through this topic.

Not all whole grains are created equal

I know you must be thinking that any whole grain will achieve these fiber benefits.  However, they are not all created equal in the area of fiber content.  The recommended grains for good fiber content are oats, barley and bulgur.

Other digestive benefits of whole grain

Whole grains really do help the digestive process.  The above mentioned fiber content aid the digestive process by keeping bowel movements regular.  This will help reduce the laxatives many people find necessary to feel good.  This also helps to guard against diverticulitis which is a condition in which small pouches form in the walls of the colon.  These small pouches cause inflammation, constipation, diarrhea and pain.

While fiber is given most of the credit for this, another benefit of whole grain consumption is that is contains lactic acid to help promote “good bacteria” formation and proliferation in the large intestine.  For those of you who may wonder about this “good bacteria”, allow me to clarify that these bacterial organisms are good for digestion as they help to aid in improved nutrient absorption from the foods you eat and are thought to even help to strengthen the body’s immune system.

Oh…but there is more…

Yes, there is still more to come on this topic.  I hope you will come back next time when we talk more about the effects of whole grains on your cholesterol and even your blood pressure.  In the meantime, please keep up with your regular dental check ups.  Your Long Island Periodontist can help maintain healthy oral tissues of every member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Many Health Benefits Can You List for Whole Grains? Part 1

How many of you are abstaining from wheat and / or gluten to lose weight because of the diet publications that tout this abstinence?  While the myriad of diet plans and books that are out there may recommend cessation of the consumption of wheat and other products containing gluten, The USDA does not.  The USDA actually recommends daily consumption of grains and they further recommend that one should make at least half of those grains the whole grain variety.  So, unless you have celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or another legitimate health reason to cut back, you really need to consider the health benefits on which you may be missing out.  Come along with me while we talk about some health benefits of whole grains.

The anatomy of grain

Before we get into the health benefits of whole grains, let’s first “dissect” a whole grain and briefly identify the parts of it.  Whole grains still have all of the parts of the original kernel of the grain: bran, germ and endosperm.   In “whole grain”, these parts are still in the proportions present in the original grain.  The “refined grain” is grain that has had the bran and germ components stripped away.  When you consider the purchase, be sure to peruse the list of ingredients.  You should see the word “whole” associated with the list of grains in the ingredient list AND the “whole grain” should be listed as one of the first THREE ingredients.  The USDA has determined these requirements for a product to get the “whole grain” stamp from the Whole Grains Council.  The “whole grain” stamp qualifies the product as having at least a half a serving of whole grain inside.  And, all “brown” breads are not created equal — just because they are brown in color doesn’t necessarily mean they meet these healthy requirements.  Brown sugar and molasses are ingredients that are used to create the “brown” color that we associate with whole grain, healthy breads.

What you’re getting

When you consume whole grains, you’re getting fiber, a healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and a range of phytochemicals that will improve the health of the consumer.  Whole grains can carry a lot of fiber into your digestive system

Fiber

One of the major reasons whole grains are recommended is for the benefits of the fiber it contains.  It has been determined that adults require about 25 to 35 grams of fiber on a daily basis.  The fiber in whole grains is both soluble and insoluble and both are considered to be greatly beneficial for good health.  For example, you can get about 5 to 6 grams of fiber when you eat two slices of dark rye bread while white bread only provides about 2 grams in two slices.  Do you like rice?  Try brown rice  — 1/2 cup of uncooked brown rice will give you a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber versus 2 grams from the same amount of uncooked white rice .  White rice is not considered to be a whole grain.  And, instant rice only gives you less than 1 gram for the same serving size!

We have only scratched the surface of the health benefits of whole grains.  Come back next time and we’ll talk a little more about the benefits of fiber as well as some other health benefits that are associated with whole grains in your diet.  In the meantime, be sure to keep up with those oh so important visits to your Long Island Periodontist to keep those oral tissues as healthy as possible.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Did You Know That Romans Had Less Gum Disease Than Modern Day Britons? Part 2

Welcome back! Today we’re going to talk a bit more about some historical data that compares modern day Britons to their Roman counterparts from centuries past. This comparison involves gum disease and a few other health conditions that seem to be associated with development and exacerbation of gum disease.

First a little review

As you may recall from part one of this series, we explained that gum disease or periodontitis is the result of chronic inflammation of the oral tissues by dental plaque that causes deterioration of bone, teeth and soft oral tissues. This leads to tooth loss and bone loss and even the proliferation of other general health conditions.

We also talked about a study conducted by a King’s College London Periodontist.  This study involved studying skulls in England and the things they found, such as much lower percentage of skulls showed gum disease in 200 to 400 AD than now and the fact that many of the skulls examined showed signs of infections and abscess as well as extensive tooth wear.

Further findings

The Poundbury cemetery community was found to be genetically similar to many modern Europeans. They were basically countryside folks and some more urban Roman types as well. They were a non-smoking community and it is felt that they had very low levels of diabetes . If you know very much about gum disease, then you’re probably aware that smoking and diabetes are two well-known risk factors for significant increase in development and progression of gum disease. For those having survived beyond infancy at that time, it seems to most likely cause of death was infectious diseases.

A real surprise

One of the things that really surprised the study authors was the fact that, despite the lack of professional dental care and toothbrushes, severe gum disease was found to be much less common in the Roman British communities of that time than that found in modern day humans.  Gum disease was actually found in other examinations of our ancestors, which included the mummified remains of Egyptians.  This has also been implied in writings by Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians and Chinese.

Smoking as a role-player

For those of you who promote smoking cessation, this information should interest you.  The authors of this study have concluded that this major deterioration in general oral health from the Roman Britons of 200 to 400 AD to our modern day European population, could have been caused by smoking.  The likely role of smoking, especially as it applies to the susceptibility to progressive periodontitis in the populations of today, appears to be a real sign that periodontitis could be avoided.  The study authors believe that, as we watch smoking decline, we should also see a decline in the prevalence of periodontitis.

Your Take-away

Our take-away today is simply this…there is an increasing amount of study data that supports exacerbation of a number of serious health conditions via the progression and proliferation of gum disease.  There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family members from this process.  One of the best and front-line steps should be to see your Long Island Periodontist for regular and routine examinations and follow up.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-3311 and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease and periodontitis with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Did You Know That Romans Had Less Gum Disease Than Modern Day Britons? – Part 1

How is that for a grab your attention title?  Well, I’m sure that it is more likely to get your attention if you are British than if you are American but I am hoping you will read on for some interesting facts.  The information that I would like to pass along to you today certainly causes one to stop and consider some life style situations that are oh so prevalent in our societies today all over the globe.  As all of us having teeth and gums must suffer and deal with gum disease and all that it entails, I think you will find this article interesting if not thought provoking.  Let’s talk about some interesting evidence that is being presented that compares Romans (humans) in 200 to 400 A.D. to modern day British (humans) and the proclivity toward gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Before we go into the evidence referenced above, let’s briefly review what gum disease is and how it can affect our oral and general health.  Quite simply, gum disease, also referred to as periodontitis, is a product of a chronic inflammatory process that is a response to the buildup of dental plaque.  This gum disease begins quietly and can remain undetected for the many years for many people if appropriate dental checkups aren’t part of their lives.  This gum disease can, and generally does, progress to more advanced stages which can result in bone and tooth loss. Some general health diseases can stimulate mild gum disease to become a more serious condition of severe chronic periodontitis which will lead to more serious damage to the oral tissues of the mouth and the exacerbation of many serious general health situations.   Do you see the vicious cycle developing here?

A Study of Skulls

All of that being said to establish a basic understanding of the culprit called “gum disease”, let’s now look at the new information that I recently obtained.  A study that was conducted by the Natural History Museum that was led by a King’s College London periodontist provides some surprise findings that will be of interest to all of us.  These findings provide even more proof that modern day habits, smoking for example, can be damaging to oral health.  This study was published in the British Dental Journal and it reported having studied 303 skulls from a Romano-British burial ground in Poundbury, Dorset in an attempt to obtain data on the presence of dental disease.

What They Found

Here is what they found in their examinations:

  • Only 5 percent of the skulls revealed any signs of moderate to severe gum disease as compared to today’s population whose chronic progressive periodontitis statistics are 15 to 30 percent!
  • Many of the Roman skulls (which form a portion of the collections in the Palaeontology Department of the Natural History Museum) did reveal signs of infection and even abscesses with half of them showing tooth decay as well.
  • Extensive wearing of the surfaces of the teeth was also noted and this correlates to the Poundbury population having consumed a diet rich in coarse grains and cereals at that time.

Next week, we will finish this topic with more interesting findings and even some background into the customs and lifestyles of those living in those days.  In the meantime, be sure to keep up with those oh so very important dental checkups.  If you aren’t established with a dental professional, your Long Island Periodontist can help.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he treats gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Do You Suffer from Headaches and Jaw Pain? Part 3

Welcome back! Today’s article will address some things you can do to protect yourself from the damage caused by nocturnal bruxism or teeth grinding and / or clenching. As you may recall, over the past few weeks we have been talking about the damages and potential causes of nocturnal bruxism. I think we can all agree that cracking, splitting and general wearing down of our teeth is absolutely NOT in our best interests. What can you do about it? Well, follow along with me while we briefly discuss some things you can do to protect your oral tissues and help to prevent headaches and jaw pain.

What works and what doesn’t

According to Dr. Matthew Messina, a consumer advisor spokesperson for the American Dental Association, and Dr. Erik K. St. Louis, head of the section of sleep neurology at the Mayo Clinic, since the causes are so individual in nature, so will the fixes be as well. Some of the suggestions  listed below may work for you while others may not.

  • Cut out the caffeine and alcohol: while caffeine won’t cause bruxism, it can potentially worsen it. If you are trying to relax those muscles, caffeine serves to stir up our levels of awareness and alertness.  Alcohol can work similarly to exacerbate bruxism.
  • Application of a warm washcloth: if you suffer from bruxism as a result of something acute, like a blow to the jaw, then perhaps the application of a warm compress or warm washcloth to the side of the face that suffered the injury may be helpful. But, if it is chronic or long term, you may not get as much relief.
  • Meditation, yoga  and mindfulness could help reduce your stress levels. This will in turn help reduce your tension and muscle activity.
  • Do you chew gum? You may wish to consider stopping the habit. They recommend avoiding any type of oral stimulating activity that stimulates chewing movements. Instead, they recommend focusing on relaxing the jaw.
  • Specially made oral appliances: obtaining these appliances from your dentist will ensure they are designed for the problem you have.  The “store-bought” devices may not necessarily be designed for your individual need based on the “why” of the condition.
  • The same situation exists for the oral mouth guards worn by athletes.  Some of these are larger and more flexible and spongy than something designed by your dental professional and may not address the cause of nocturnal bruxism.  These could actually INCREASE your teeth grinding instead of reduce it.

Statistics show that approximately 70% of the people who use a dental appliance and are able to get their bite more balanced, are successful at stopping the grinding at least most of the time.  Unfortunately, if you aren’t in that 70% then you will probably continue to grind the dental appliance not-with-standing.   A visit to your Long Island Periodontist will certainly help to diagnose and treat this condition as well as many others.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.