Living in Taiwan, I can honestly say that my worst fear has been going to the dentist. It's never a relaxing affair, as I'm sure everyone will agree, but it's even more scary when you have to deal with it in a language you're supposedly fluent in, but actually lack a lot of everyday terminology. (Chinese language based degrees seem to omit the basic of dealing with ordinary life, but you do learn to debate on a lot of current affairs etc!!) An American friend who lives near our language school told me he had to have a root canal treatment here and that, not only was the injection next to useless, but that they covered his face with a mask with an opening only for the mouth. He's sure it's so that the dentist and nurse can't see the patient's agony.... 'Barbaric' is a word that springs to mind in connection with Taiwanese dentistry.
Anyway, it got me thinking of some of the good dental tips I was given by a good friend back home and also my old dentist. In addition to the veganism I'm interested in, I've also always been interested in health in general and the raw food diet. One of the problems many raw foodists seem to encounter a lot is an increase in dental decay, so I though that this might be of use and interest to anyone who wants to eat all or mostly raw, but, sensibly enough, also wants to protect their teeth.
Some say that it's a lack of dental hygiene that causes decay and, whilst there's no doubt that this can be a major contributing factor for some, there are others who brush and floss religiously, but still end up spending stressful times in their dentist's chair. Why? There are two reasons that suggest themselves to me:
1) Acid erosion of teeth. My old dentist told me that, after consuming something acidic, say orange juice with breakfast, the acid remains on the teeth and, when the person then brushes their teeth more or less straight afterwards, this acid helps the process along a little too vigorously for most folk's purposes. The simple solution? Swill your mouth out with plain water before brushing. I remember reading a raw fooder saying that he swilled his mouth out after each thing he ate, which could also be helpful, especially if there's a lot of acid fruit in the equation.
2) Eating too often, also called 'grazing'. Most of us fall foul of this, but my friend (a senior dental nurse) tells me that teeth can cope with up to five attacks per day. Beyond that, they get 'overwhelmed' and will succumb to decay. So, not only is this good news for those who found they could never make their sweet treats last the whole afternoon (one binge is far better for the teeth than a constant barrage of smaller portions), but it also gives pause for thought. How often do we eat per day? Five times means three regular meals and two snacks. Sweets and cakes are best eaten straight after a meal (just one attack that way) and some may need to also take into account how often they have sweet drinks during the day. Having a cuppa seven times during the day may mean seven lots of milk and sugar for the teeth to deal with. Water or herb teas may be better beyond your 'five attacks a day'! And teeth have been known to dissolve in Coke (so I heard many years ago, but will probably need verifying).
When it comes to raw food diets, it's not uncommon for folk to be picking at fruit, nuts etc throughout the day or even sipping at juices much of the time. This is a sure way to the dentist's drill! So, even if you're someone who feels that one should eat only when hungry and that larger meals are too conventional, you may want to consider a more planned approach for the sake of your teeth.
And for those mums, grans, aunties and so on amongst us: Never tell the kids to 'make their sweets last'!=)
Finishing up some older projects
5 weeks ago