By: Dr. Dana Colson, D.D.S
Some books you read because you need to and other books you read because you want to. Your Mouth: The Gateway to a Healthier You is one of those books that you need to and should want to read. Dr. Dana Colson, D.D.S. has done a marvellous job of taking the subject of oral health and making it hip, interesting and relevant to our overall health and well-being.
The book is hip because what is more hip today than to shop at Lulu Lemon and go to yoga class? Dr. Colson successfully marries the holistic concepts of yoga to oral health. An excerpt from the chapter titled Yoga for the Mouth is a perfect example of this; “Yoga is also about the importance of small, conscious movements to strengthen our emotional and physical well-being. A minimally invasive approach to dentistry is the same. Using new technology, gentle orthodontic forces allow the bone to remodel itself slowly over time and regain better balance for teeth, muscle and soft tissue. Through these small movements and slow shifts, we are able to remodel our mouths at any age.”
The book is interesting because each chapter has important information that most of us would never have considered, about the link between oral health and our overall health. For example, she discusses Periodontal (gum) disease and its relationship and effect on diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy. She discusses snoring and sleep apnea- a condition that affects 2-9% of women, 4 -24 % of men and about 2% of children- and the dentist’s role in diagnosing and treating these conditions. Dr. Colson also discusses grinding and clenching of our teeth, something that often goes undetected until there is significant structure damage to our teeth, and explains the harmful effects this has in causing headaches. The common and often very disabling Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome is also described and orthodontic solutions as well as simple intra-oral and extra-oral exercises are given that will help manage this condition.
The book is relevant to each of us because in our society of rising health care costs, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is our responsibility to take ownership for our overall health. Dr. Colson illustrates very well that oral health can be our first step in this ownership process. She explains the power of the food we chew, its nutritional importance, the damaging effects of eating sugar and foods with a high glycemic index (process foods and sports drinks) and the importance of balancing oral acidity by ingesting alkalinic foods (dark chocolate, old cheddar and vegetables) to lower the ph factor in our mouths. Dr. Colson also dedicates a full chapter on the health benefits of being positive and the role that the mouth plays in smiling and laughing to convey a sense of well being. As she states in this chapter, “it’s almost impossible to smile on the outside without feeling better on the inside.”
Throughout the book there are tidbits of information that are of immediate practical use such as the six tips to get a good night’s sleep, 7 ways to determine if you are grinding and clenching your teeth and the quote, “ Our smile is our best natural vitamin.” However, probably the most valuable piece of advice Dr. Colson gives is about the importance of proper mouth, teeth and tongue position. She gives us a mantra to repeat so we always know if we are in proper oral alignment, “Lips together, teeth apart, tongue in place.” She explains that in the ideal oral position your lips rest lightly together, the teeth are a few millimetres apart and the tongue rest lightly at the junction of the upper teeth and gum tissue. If we follow the yoga analogy and repeat this mantra we will always know if we are in proper oral alignment which will facilitate improved body alignment and overall health.
In our society of instant gratification, processed fast foods, fad diets and high stress jobs, wellness is something that we have to work at and be dedicated to. Dr. Colson, in her book, has given us an easy-to-follow blue print to oral health and its connection to our overall health. She makes a compelling case that you cannot separate one from the other and if we follow the mantra “lips together, teeth apart, tongue in place” we will be well on our way to improved health.
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