Achieving and maintaining optimal health is important in the Tamarkoz® method of meditation. Health encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Physical health involves eating and sleeping well, being physically active, practicing good hygiene, taking care of oral, vision, and hearing health. In this article, we will focus on oral health, because poor oral health limits one’s ability to eat, and speak, and is associated with poor health outcomes, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung infection. Protecting oral health can stop cavities, gum disease, bad breath (halitosis), tooth infections, and the loss of teeth. Such conditions may affect the rest of the body. For example, some research has shown gum disease is associated with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory infections, and dementia. Check out the diagram demonstrating the interconnection of gum disease with other health complications.
We’ve interviewed Dr. Golzar Shaari, a dentist in Sacramento, California to tell us more about taking good care of our gums, teeth, and mouth.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Is it true that mouth infections can affect major organs such as the heart?
GS: Yes, this is true. Having periodontal disease can put you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream and contribute to the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in your arteries. Periodontal disease also leads to the systemic leakage of inflammatory cytokines, which also influence the development of atherosclerosis.
MTO Tamarkoz App: How does diet and nutrition affect gum and teeth health?
GS: Bacteria feed on carbohydrates. If your diet is high in sugars, it can increase the bacterial load in your mouth. Food and drinks that are acidic can also be harmful for your oral health. An acidic environment in your mouth can dissolve the enamel (the outer layer) of your teeth. That’s why it is important to limit your intake of sugary or acidic food and drink. Indulging in your favorite snacks in moderation is fine, but prolonged exposure to sugar and acid will weaken your enamel and eventually lead to cavities.
MTO Tamarkoz App: What if we brush our teeth immediately after we eat or drink something sugary or acidic? Would that help protect the enamel and remove bacteria?
GS: It is better to wait 30-60 minutes after eating or drinking something acidic before brushing your teeth. The acidic environment in your mouth will weaken the enamel on your teeth and make them more prone to damage from the abrasive forces of brushing. It is better to give your saliva time to naturally neutralize the acids in your mouth and remineralize the enamel before brushing. Rinsing with drinking water will also help.
MTO Tamarkoz App: How often shall we brush our teeth and floss our teeth?
GS: Floss at least once a day, preferably before going to bed. Brush twice a day, once before bed and once in the morning before you eat breakfast. And don’t forget to brush your tongue.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Okay, so then what’s the right toothbrush to use? A soft bristle brush or hard? Electric toothbrush or manual? Can we use the same toothbrush for brushing our tongue?
GS: Always use soft bristle toothbrushes. Medium or hard bristle brushes are too abrasive on your teeth and gums and can actually lead to the loss of tooth structure over time. I always prefer that my patient’s use an electric toothbrush because they are more efficient at removing plaque and they usually come with timers to make sure that you are brushing for the full two minutes. However, with the right brushing technique, a manual brush works just fine too. And yes, we can use the same toothbrush for scraping the tongue. Some people use tongue scrapers, but really it is up to you and what you prefer.
MTO Tamarkoz App: As we want to always keep sustainability in mind, what would be the best toothbrush?
GS: There are many eco-friendly toothbrush brands to choose from and I predict that our choices will only increase as people become more aware of their carbon footprint. Both manual and electric options are available. I don’t believe that one particular brand is superior to another. I think the best brand is whichever one you are comfortable using. I personally use the Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush; I am pleased with its longevity and the company’s commitment to carbon neutrality. If you prefer manual toothbrushes, Cocobrush makes an excellent toothbrush which is made of 98% recycled plastics and can be recycled again when it is time to replace your toothbrush.
MTO Tamarkoz App: What type of toothpaste is best to use?
GS: Most toothpastes on the market work well. It depends on the particular needs of a patient. For example, for small children who are still learning to brush, I recommend non-fluoride toothpastes until they are old enough to learn how to properly rinse and spit after brushing. Some patients have very sensitive teeth, so I recommend toothpastes that are specially formulated to treat sensitivity. Other patients are very prone to getting cavities, so I recommend prescription strength toothpastes with extra fluoride. Generally, I recommend that my patients use whichever toothpaste they prefer as long as they are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time.
MTO Tamarkoz App: What does fluoridated water, as mandated in many US cities, do for the teeth? Any pros and cons to share?
GS: The safety and benefits of fluoride are well documented by several scientific and public health organizations. However, fluoride has gotten a bad reputation in some circles due to the spread of misinformation. I can understand why the lay person might be hesitant to drink water with an unfamiliar sounding additive added by their government. The truth is that community water fluoridation helps prevent early childhood caries. It provides frequent and consistent contact with low levels of fluoride, which helps strengthen enamel and prevent the development of tooth decay. This has led to a dramatic decline in tooth decay over the past 70 years. For this reason, the CDC has named community water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
Patients often ask me if fluoride is poisonous or if they should be worried about the fluoride in their city’s drinking water: Fluoride can be poisonous if too much is ingested by accident. For example, if a child eats an entire tube of fluoride toothpaste, then they need to go to the emergency room.
Too much fluoride can sometimes lead to fluorosis - opaque, white stains on the teeth. This might occur if you are taking oral supplemental fluoride tablets as well as drinking your city’s fluoridated tap water. Generally, if your city has fluoridated water, you don’t need to be taking extra fluoride supplements. When in doubt, ask your dentist.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Should mouthwash be part of routine dental care? And does mouthwash with alcohol clear out good bacteria?
GS: Mouthwash can be a good supplement to your dental care, but it does not replace brushing and flossing. Most over the counter mouthwashes do not do much besides temporarily controlling bad breath. However, there are many different kinds of mouthwash to fit the needs of different people. For example, if you get cavities often, it can be helpful to use a mouthwash with fluoride in it. Furthermore, certain prescription mouthwashes can help treat periodontal disease, when used in conjunction with daily brushing and flossing. Just ask your dentist if a prescription rinse might be helpful for you.
Finally, if you do use mouthwash, look for alcohol-free brands. Alcohol can disrupt the balance of oral flora as well as dry out your mouth, which can put you at higher risk for getting cavities.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Coffee and tea, do they really stain our teeth?
GS: Yes: the tannins and chromogens in coffee and tea, combined with the porosity of enamel, result in the staining that coffee/tea drinkers notice over time. Regular cleanings at your dental office will help remove these stains.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Do we really need to see the dentist twice a year?
GS: Yes, I recommend seeing your dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.
MTO Tamarkoz App: What are some questions patients need to ask their dentists to be engaged and involved with their dental care?
GS: If you are unsure or do not understand something about a treatment that your dentist has recommended for you, never hesitate to ask questions about it. Your dentist and their supporting staff want you to feel comfortable with your treatment before you start. You can also ask your dentist or hygienist what you can be doing at home to improve your oral hygiene technique. They will often have specific recommendations for you based on the condition of your gums and teeth.
MTO Tamarkoz App: What’s the best way to find a good dentist?
GS: There are a number of ways to find a good dentist: online research, asking for recommendations from your friends or family, contacting your local dental society, or contacting your insurance company to see which dentists are in your network. It’s perfectly acceptable to shop around too. Ideally, you should be able to establish a good rapport with your dentist and their supporting staff. If a dental office does not feel right, then look for another one. You should feel comfortable in your dental home.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Any take-aways you’d like our readers to have?
GS: Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body. Maintaining optimal oral health is a requirement for maintaining optimal systemic and mental health. So next time you want to skip flossing, just remember that Streptococcus Mutans bacteria are lurking under your gums, just waiting to set up camp in one of your coronary arteries.
MTO Tamarkoz App: Thank you so much, Dr Shaari for your time and thoughtful responses! It’s been very helpful and informative. We’re ready to brush and flash our pearly whites for this New Year!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Achievements in public health, 1900–1999: fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental caries. MMWR. 1999;48(41):933–940.
- Hajishengallis G. (2022). Interconnection of periodontal disease and comorbidities: Evidence, mechanisms, and implications. Periodontology 2000, 89(1), 9-18. https://doi.org/10.1111/prd.12430.