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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable living’

Picture of toy teeth eating candy

Although I’m the son of a dentist, I can’t say that I practice the best dental hygiene all of the time. I love sweets, sometimes forget to brush on weekends, and don’t floss every day.

Oral health has been associated with overall health. Gingivitis (inflammation and swelling of gums), for example, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, poor diabetes control, and even memory function. Therefore, in addition to preventing cavities and bad breath, there are many other reasons for practicing good oral hygiene.

Have you ever had arguments with others about how often, when and how to brush, floss or visit the dentist? There are many myths about brushing that should be addressed….

  1. If you don’t eat candy, you won’t get cavities.  Cavities form when bacteria in plaque form acids that wear away your enamel. Harmful bacteria like simple sugars, but they also like other carbohydrates such as the starches found in potatoes, pasta and breads. So yes, it’s better if you can cut back on sweets, but don’t think that brushing and flossing still aren’t important. Generally, it’s better for your teeth if you consume sweets during meals and have less sweets and snacks throughout the day.
  2. Diet Sodas won’t hurt my teeth. Diet sodas are better than regular soda because they don’t have the sugar. However, like other carbonated beverages, juices, wine, and coffee, they are acidic, which is harmful to your enamel. In fact, dentists recommend brushing 1 hour after eating or drinking beverages such as coffee in order to avoid brushing away small pieces of enamel.
  3. I should brush and floss after every meal. Actually, experts recommend only brushing in the evening (before bed) and one other time during the day, for at least 2 minutes. The evenings are important because saliva production decreases during the night, leaving the teeth more at risk for decay. Rather than brushing after each meal, chewing gum throughout the day can increase saliva production which can be helpful, as long as the gum is sugar-free. If you do brush after a meal, wait an hour to do so, and remember to floss once a day.
  4. Natural tooth pastes are better for you and better for the environment. There are many products marketed as eco-friendly or natural. If you choose these products, make sure they contain fluoride; otherwise, they won’t be as effective at preventing cavities. There are toothpaste tablets with fluoride that you can also purchase, so that you don’t have to use the disposable plastic tubes. Biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes are also available. Speaking of fluoride, it’s better just to spit, rather than rinse, so the fluoride stays in your mouth longer.
  5. I don’t need to visit the dentist if I don’t have any problems. See your dentist regularly. Cavities don’t always cause toothaches, and dentists can remove plaque which will prevent cavities. Most adults need a check-up and cleaning twice a year. A dentist or hygienist can discuss and demonstrate the best ways to brush and floss.

Author: Dan Remley, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

WebMD. The Mouth-Body Connection: 6 Ways Oral Hygiene Helps Keep You Well. 2017. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gum-disease-health#2

WebMD. Myths and Facts about Cavities. 2016. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/cavities-myths#3

Oral Health Foundation. Diet and My Teeth. 2019. https://www.dentalhealth.org/diet-and-my-teeth

American Dental Association- Mouth Healthy. Your Top 9 Questions About Going to the Dentist—Answered! 2019. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist

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I couldn’t help but think watching the usual black Friday riots on TV- what all of our consumerism is doing to our environment, and the quality of life of future generations. What resources are we extracting from the earth so that we can satisfy our children with shiny new toys that lose their luster in a couple of days and wind up in basement? Fortunately, our consumer behaviors can become much more intentional and less wasteful. It is an opportunity to live more “sustainably.”

The concept of sustainable living was introduced to me at a workshop I attended at a national urban Extension conference by colleagues from the other OSU (Oregon State University). I went into the workshop thinking that I was going to be lectured by tree-hugging west coast academics about how damaging my Midwestern lifestyle and values were to the environment. I left the workshop feeling like I had more direction and purpose in life than ever before.

According to Oregon State University, Sustainable Living is defined as “living a life that is deeply satisfying, fulfilling, and appealing – and at the same time, environmentally responsible.” It is NOT living in the woods, eating only berries, guilt driven, not buying anything again, nor gloom and doom. It is deeply personal, intentional, practical, and puts our individual actions in a global context.

Extension offers a free on-line sustainability class at: http://www.extension.org/pages/62201/living-sustainably:-its-your-choice#.Uqdp2vRDspg. The class offers research-based suggestions on how you and your family can live more sustainably (recycling, starting a garden, eating local and organic, etc.). Following the instructions, you will need to create a password and username.

Sustainable living is more than just being aware of our own actions. It is ultimately about rethinking our consumer behaviors so that we can be happier and healthier. When consumerism runs amok we think that we need more stuff to be happy, so we have to work longer hours. As a result, we have less time to do things we really value and end up with junk that only clutters up our lives. During the workshop that I attended, we had to think about what we would save from our living room if our homes were on fire. Such activities really get you to think what is important in life.

Writer: Daniel Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness at OSU Extension
Editor: Lisa Barlage, OSU Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

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