WDAY.com |

North Dakota's #1 news website 10,650,498 page views — March 2014

Published May 23, 2012, 11:30 PM

Mathison: You’re never fully dressed without a smile

I’ve always enjoyed getting my teeth cleaned. My mom grew up in Pelican Rapids, Minn., and even though we lived in Fargo, we all went to Dr. Kenny Albright of Pelican Rapids – such a great name for a dentist!

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, Areavoices.com, INFORUM

I’ve always enjoyed getting my teeth cleaned. My mom grew up in Pelican Rapids, Minn., and even though we lived in Fargo, we all went to Dr. Kenny Albright of Pelican Rapids – such a great name for a dentist!

There were so many Mathison children that they blocked off the entire day for us. I had a couple of cavities over the years, but I never remember being scared or having any pain. I remember new toothbrushes and a renewed vow to floss more after each visit.

Three of my four younger brothers are now dentists, and of course I spend a fair amount of time looking in mouths and throats, as well as making lips more kissable with fillers.

Things come full circle. Dr. Albright passed away many years ago, but I get to see his kind and gentle dental assistant, now long retired, as a patient in my office. My 4-year-old son, Grant, had his first dental appointment with Uncle Chris, and delights in brushing his teeth and making his uncle proud.

Here’s a few fun facts about your mouth and teeth:

• Dr. Oz calls your mouth the body’s food processor. Our chewing mechanism is actually a pretty efficient way to start the extraction of energy from food.

• Many experts recommend chewing each bite of food 25-30 times. Doing this enhances nutrient absorption further down in the digestive tract. It also slows down the meal, allowing more time for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. So chewing more may make you thinner!

• In the event that you can brush your teeth right after a meal, chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help. Look for a brand with Xylitol, which has some natural anti-bacterial properties.

• All this chewing can be hard on your jaws. The temperomandibular joint (TMJ) actually has a sliding mechanism that dislocates and relocates with each chew. Grinding your teeth, unconscious clenching, and overuse can cause the joint to misalign and the surrounding muscles to tense up.

This can cause headaches, and pain in the jaw, neck, eyes and ears. Certainly other medical issues can cause similar symptoms and you should check with your doctor, but a trip to your dentist might be in order, too. They may recommend a bite guard, hot/cold packs and jaw relaxation techniques.

• A sore jaw, with or without chest pain, can be a heart attack indicator, especially in women.

• Gum disease (gingivitis) is linked to other health problems, especially cardiovascular disease. The thought is that the bacteria that invade your gums cause total body inflammation, and that inflammation can lead to hardening of the arteries. So taking good care of your teeth and gums is good for your heart, too.

• Your smile is likely the first facial feature to be noticed. People who smiled in their yearbook photos were more likely to have successful marriages and careers, studies show.

• In adults, smile enhancing procedures like braces and gum surgery outnumber facelifts 7 to 1, and eyelid surgery 5 to 1.

• Braces are not just for straight, pretty teeth. In both kids and adults, the orthodontist makes sure that braces enhance the patient’s bite to improve chewing ability, jaw function and facial symmetry.

• Men smile about eight times a day. Women smile 62 times per day.

• Psychologists have found that even if you’re in bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile. Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better and release stress, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com.

Tags: