Floss for better health was the message from serial inventor Stuart Saunders at the Pattaya City Expats meeting on Sunday, November 25. Stuart is also the PCEC’s Vice Chairman. Although an automotive engineer, one of his inventions is FlossFirst ‘Credit Card’ Dental Floss.
Stuart began by noting that since the Roman Empire, human life expectancy has gone from 24 years to around 80 years in the West. However, we now have many more cariogenic foods, such as candy, chocolate and ice cream, which tend to reduce the ‘life’ of one’s teeth. In the animal kingdom, and historically for humans, ‘end of teeth’ usually means ‘end of life’. In medieval times it was thought that poor teeth and gums indicated other disease, such as poor kidneys, pancreas, or other internal organs. It appears now that the actual situation is almost the complete opposite, as we find many serious systemic conditions can originate in the mouth, as oral bacteria infect the blood stream via gum disease.
Inventor & designer Stuart Saunders talks of the link between oral hygiene and many other diseases of the body. Pancreatic cancer (which Steve Jobs, with all his resources, could not defeat) is 100% higher with gum disease, while erectile dysfunction is 800% up (or should that be down?)
He spoke about the importance of good oral hygiene in regard to the effects of gum disease on whole body health. A study of 40,000 health professionals in the New England area reported a decade ago that gum disease (along with tooth decay, the world’s most common disease) coincided with a doubling of heart attacks and a 150% increase in strokes. Other studies since have reported e.g., an 800% increase in premature births, with many babies dangerously underweight, when the mother has gum disease. Many cancers including oral and lung cancer have increased risk when gum disease is present; likewise, diabetes, COPD, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, cholesterol, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction (up to 800%). Injecting certain oral bacteria into the circulatory systems of rabbits immediately triggers an infarct.
Sweden’s Karolinska Institute last year found that women who have lost teeth due to gum disease had an 11 times higher risk of breast cancer. A recent study found that presence in the blood of antibodies to oral bacteria indicates a doubling of risk of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive, with 1 and 5 year survival rates of only 25% and 6%. The website Realage.com predicts 6.4 years extra life with good oral hygiene. Stuart suspects it may be more; a study of ‘immaculate’ oral hygiene vs. ‘typical’, might establish this.
Stuart addressed common misinformation about flossing and oral hygiene. Firstly, it is common to hear in Asia that flossing makes teeth ‘gappy’. Totally untrue, Stuart said – he calculates that he has flossed approximately 37,146 times since he began in 1971. His teeth contacts are as tight today as when he started. The real risk is not flossing, as tooth decay can take out whole teeth.
Imagine that we just washed the paintwork & glass on this truck, & thought it was clean, said Stuart. Yet that is what we do if we only brush our teeth, without flossing. Or could we just splash some perfume around? Sure, Stuart says, use mouthwash if you must, but ‘ain’t flossing ain’t cleaning’.
Secondly, Stuart thinks we should thank dentists for advocating fluoridation, very much against their own pecuniary interest. To him it is simply amazing that while there are still people alive today whose 21st birthday ‘present’ was to have all their teeth knocked out (or the remains) so they could be fitted with a ‘proper set of teeth that will last forever’, i.e. dentures, there are now many who reach adulthood without a single cavity. This is due in large part to fluoridation. Most cases of fluorosis (main objection to fluoridation) come from regions where the natural fluoride levels are up to 20 times that recommended by the ADA. Bad tooth decay is a far worse condition than a bad case of fluorosis.
Halitosis (bad breath) is a potentially serious side effect of poor oral hygiene, as anaerobic (without oxygen) bacteria break down proteins in plaque wedged between the teeth. Volatile sulphur compounds, including rotten egg gas, are given off. Some of the consequences of halitosis are social rejection, limited career prospects and low self esteem; suicide is not unknown. Stuart mentioned the case of a young lady who came to his apartment one Saturday afternoon, in a very distressed condition. She said she had no friends; she could not get a boyfriend, she hated life, and talked of suicide. After listening to her, Stuart said “sit down, I have got something to tell you. You have extremely bad breath. Your breath is so bad I would not want to get in the same car as you. I can tell you this because I can cure it.” He gave her some floss and showed her how to use it, which she did. Then he gave her a new toothbrush and paste and she brushed. Following this, most halitosis was gone. Stuart then advised her to go to a dentist to have her teeth cleaned professionally, have any problems fixed, and to be sure to floss/brush after meals. A couple of years after that, she came to work for him without any halitosis.
Stuart finished on a historical bent, showing some items from his dental floss museum, including several still usable flosses over 100 years old, and a 1798 painting by Goya called ‘A caza des dientes’ – ‘Out hunting for teeth’. This shows a woman pulling the teeth of a corpse on the gallows to be sold to dentists for placing in other patient’s mouths, or for making dentures. Yes, dentistry has come a long way.
FlossFirst is manufactured in Chonburi by Thai staff Stuart first encountered when they were migrant workers in Taiwan. Their work was so good that when the time came to relocate due to rising labor costs, it was also time for the workers to return to Thailand. It was a no brainer; they brought the factory with them. FlossFirst Credit Card Dental Floss, awarded a Gold Medal for Best New Health Product at the International Invention Exhibition and Technomart, is available in Pattaya at Friendship Supermarket, and also at better pharmacies.
Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg then provided an update on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum.
Read more about the Club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.