Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Healthier, Whiter Teeth

One of my goals is to die with all 32 teeth in my head. So far, I've met the all-32-teeth part. Up until around age 35, I'd had only one cavity. It was so small that the dentist, with my permission, drilled without anesthetic. I brushed twice a day, and usually didn't floss. Being without insurance and low on funds during many of my younger days, I'd go years without seeing a dentist, and have only a tiny bit of tartar on the rare visit. And no, I didn't drink lots of milk. Yuck!

At 34, I started on a low-fat, high-carb diet plan that I followed for six years. (At around 180 grams per day, it was high-carb compared to what I'd been eating.) In those six years, I got eight cavities. I had lots of plaque. I got an electric toothbrush, brushed for two and a half minutes morning and night and flossed every day. The cavities and the plaque kept forming--and my teeth were becoming dingy-colored. Around Christmas last year, I found myself in the worst pain of my life: one of my teeth was infected. A root canal followed.

I was eating what many consider a healthy diet: lots of fruit, yogurt, and complex carbohydrates. But what are those full of? Sugar! Starch! And when my blood sugar came crashing down an hour later, what did I eat? More sugar and starch!

I got off the sugar train in February and started a low-carb diet. (As you probably know, a low-carb diet is, by definition, low in sugar and starch--in my case, less than 50 grams a day.) Results: I have very little plaque on my teeth. When I floss, there's little or no gunk to clean out. My teeth are whiter. And on my last visit to the dentist a few weeks ago, I didn't have any cavities. It was one of the few experiences from my younger days I was happy to repeat.

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