Healthy Tips

Antioxidants: effect on the oral cavity

Research has revealed a link between the health of oral tissues and overall systemic health.

Maintaining a good balance of oxidants and antioxidants is important for oral health as well as systemic health. Factors such as pollutants, alcohol, nicotine, hydrogen peroxide, and dental compounds and procedures can disturb the balance of oxidants in oral tissues, causing oxidative stress. Antioxidants can help to offset the imbalance.

There are several thousand antioxidants, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and compounds. Some antioxidants are produced within the body; others, such as vitamins A and C, must be provided by external sources. A healthy, varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants may be supplied by other external means as well.

Here are some antioxidants and good food sources:

Vitamin C - Citrus fruits and their juices, berries, dark green vegetables (spinach, asparagus, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress, other greens), red and yellow peppers, tomatoes and tomato juice, pineapple, cantaloupe, mangos, papaya and guava.

Vitamin E - Vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, corn, cottonseed and safflower, nuts and nut butters, seeds, whole grains, wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas) and dark, leafy green vegetables.

Selenium - Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains and most vegetables.

Beta Carotene - Variety of dark orange, red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangos.

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Dental X-rays, Healthcare and Cost

In recent months we have had a few of our patients refuse x-rays. We realize that in this difficult economy this may seem like a good way to save money. Unfortunately, it certainly is not in the best interest of your general or dental health. We have experienced a number of our patients who refused to have preventive radiographs, the need for extensive and expensive procedures such as root canal therapy and implants when simpler and less costly procedures would have been possible.

The following information is provided for your overall healthcare guidance.

With regards,                                                                                                                                                           Dr. P. Gard Lorey & Dr. Sean P. Smith

Dental x-rays help dentists visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. In addition, x-rays help the dentist find and treat dental problems early in their development, which can potentially save you money, unnecessary discomfort, and maybe even your life.

What Problems Can Dental X-Rays Detect?

In adults, dental x-rays can be used to:

  • Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an oral exam, especially small areas of decay between teeth
  • Identify decay occurring beneath an existing filling
  • Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease
  • Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection
  • Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures
  • Reveal an abscess (an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth)
  • Reveal other developmental abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors

In children, dental x-rays are used to:

  • Watch for decay
  • Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth
  • Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly
  • Check for the development of wisdom teeth and identify if the teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums)

Dental check-ups and x-rays don’t just help your teeth; they can help prevent other health problems from developing, such as endocarditis, a rare heart condition that can be caused by bacteria from the mouth infecting the heart. Patients putting off treatment because of cost could be storing up trouble in the long-term.

It’s understandable that, at a time when there is widespread concern about household finances, some patients’ financial anxieties are leading them to defer dental appointments and treatment.

Achieving short-term money savings at the expense of longer-term health problems really isn’t wise though. Neglecting your oral health can increase both the complexity of the problems you face and the cost of the treatment you must eventually have.

How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?

Exposure to all sources of radiation -- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental x-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of dental X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have led to a number of measures that will minimize the risks associated with x-rays.


Implantable cardiac devices, such as pacemakers or implantable defibrillators, use electrical impulses to help the heart maintain its proper rhythm. Some of the ultrasonic tools your dentist uses, such as certain ultrasonic scalers or instrument cleaning systems, have the potential to interfere with these cardiac devices and could result in an irregular heartbeat.

It is important that you keep your dentist up to date about your general health, including medicines or treatments you are receiving. In this case, he or she may want to avoid using certain ultrasonic devices as part of your care.

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