Monday, February 9, 2015

2x2: Two Minutes Twice per Day

Teeth are the only non-shedding surface in the body.  Bacterial levels in dental plaque can reach very high levels and can easily spread to the blood stream. Periodontal (gum) disease can facilitate the spread of the bacteria.

Dental disease can lead to loss of teeth and jaw damage. Periodontal disease has been associated with heart disease, possibly due to increased amount of bacteria introduced into the blood stream. The resulting chronic inflammation can start a chain of events that lead to artery blockage. Other conditions that may be related to chronic periodontitis are difficult to control diabetes and pneumonia.

Adult dental care is as important now as it is for kids. Everyone should brush teeth for two minutes twice per day as well as floss once per day. Use a soft toothbrush. Contrary to what toothpaste commercials show, the amount of paste or gel does not have to be a heaping amount. A pea-sized dab is plenty. Unless there is a reason otherwise, buy toothpaste with fluoride.

If brushing is impossible, rinse with warm salty water after eating.

Monday, February 2, 2015


E-cigarettes are a nicotine delivery system to the lungs that doesn’t involve the carcinogenic byproducts of burning tobacco leaves. Rather, a liquid nicotine solution is vaporized into steam that is inhaled. There has been no association to date of e-cigs with cancer, but that doesn’t mean that they are a good idea.

As a replacement for regular cigarettes, e-cigs might be a public health win by reducing lung cancer but the risk of cardiovascular disease would remain. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, increasing blood pressure and reducing delivery of oxygen-rich blood. Unlike conventional cigarettes, there is no learning to inhale or initial coughing bouts leading to concern that e-cigs might be the gateway to other tobacco use, especially for teens. E-cigs are so easy to use that one reviewer said that she could smoke them while on the treadmill.

E-cigs come in a variety of ‘flavors’ and different concentrations of nicotine. Nicotine is known to improve mood and many find it an effective appetite suppressant. There is a small amount of contested evidence that it might delay the start of Alzheimer’s disease – not a reason to start using nicotine in any form.

Another danger of e-cigs is that it might become socially acceptable to use them indoors, exposing others to the nicotine-laced steam. New York City, among other places, limits the use of e-cigs the same way as conventional cigarettes including the proscription against use in outdoor public places.

Both tobacco companies and pharmaceutical companies have financial interests in e-cigs, but the final say lies with both regulators and the users. If society thinks that smoking is a bad idea the type of nicotine delivery won’t matter.