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To Your Health!

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If Our Oral Health
Could Talk

by Teri Halliwell

This is not an article about brushing and flossing.


It’s about a global health crisis affecting nearly half of the entire human population.


The health of the mouth is often overlooked. A 2018 Harvard study showed that maintaining five basic healthy habits can increase your life expectancy by 12 years:

  1. Eating healthy

  2. Exercising

  3. Maintaining healthy body weight

  4. Not smoking

  5. Drinking in moderation


So, what is wrong with that list?

Nothing! But did you know that…

  • Having a healthy mouth can increase your life expectancy for up to 10 years?

  • And that a healthy airway can add up extra 15 years? Which means that a healthy mouth can affect the longevity more than all of the healthy lifestyle choices we’ve known about combined!


Oral health is intimately connected to chronic disease like cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer's, and many others.

The healthy development of the structure of the mouth results in well-formed airways and the balance of microbes that live in your mouth. These microbes can either support your overall wellness or wreak havoc in your body.


Many οf the oral health challenges we face as adults begin in childhood. Many children do not get the care they need for the development of a healthy mouth, mind and body. According to the CDC, one out of five children have rampant decay on seven or more teeth. By third grade, more than 50% have had cavities and untreated decay.

And that’s not necessarily because their parents are neglectful.


The separation of dentistry and medicine is part of the health crisis in America. Medical insurance doesn’t cover dentistry which means additional cost for additional coverage. In addition, there is very little education about the mouth-body connection. Because of this separation, dentistry is often seen as secondary in overall health.


When your throat hurts, you go to the doctor to have your throat checked. How often you think your doctor looks past your mouth and into your throat? If the doctor does recognize a problem in your mouth, they might now tell you to follow up with appropriate dental care? Another question you might want to ask your doctor is if they routinely communicate with your dentist about the physical problems that may be connected to your oral problems.

In other words, there may not be any real coordination of care, even though many diseases in the rest of the body are caused by oral bacteria entering the bloodstream.


On the other side, how many systemic diseases do dentists miss? For example, bad breath can be linked to stomach ulcers or sores that can be a symptom of cancer. Many signs and symptoms often appear in mouth first, so it is important to ask your dentist to check your tongue and gums and do a complete exam of your mouth, including a dental cancer screening.


Adding to the problem is dental fear. Going to the dentist is second only to public speaking when it comes to people’s biggest fears.


Here is what I want you to remember:

Oral health IS medical care. It’s a basic need and should be a human right; not only because it can help prevent many deadly diseases and save lives but also because it can dramatically improve the quality of lives. From fertility to cardiovascular diseases, oral health is a common denominator.


Your mouth tells a story. It’s the story of your health, prosperity and longevity.


If your oral health could talk, it would say: “Care for me like your life depends on it it…because it does.”

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Teri Halliwell earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism from The American College of Greece, and her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco. Teri is an inventive storyteller with a passion for moving audiences to action through her writing. She is a member of the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors, 

Take Time to Laugh

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Exploring Vitamin Intake

by Liya Moges

Eating is considered one of the most essential things a human does to gain energy and strength to power on through the day. We know that different foods provide us with different strengths, and while this is true, the real strength we get from these food groups stem from organic substances called Vitamins. Every possible food group you can think of is packed with Vitamins that work hard to provide your body with essential nutrients it needs to survive, and without these proper nutrients your body would not be able to function properly. Lacking certain vitamins can lead to a vitamin deficiency and can manifest as minor symptoms you may not have thought to be related! If you’ve felt minor symptoms like growing fatigue, muscle weakness, eyesight problems, dizziness, or even brittle nails and hair, you might have a vitamin deficiency and your diet is key to solving some of these problems!

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are essentially organic materials, meaning materials made by plants or animals, that your body needs in order to survive. Now, as humans, our body does not naturally create vitamins meaning we need to ingest foods/drinks that have vitamins in them to fulfill our bodies’ dietary needs. There is a surplus of different types of vitamins that our body needs, each of them serving different purposes! In total, there are about 13 main vitamins that our body needs as essential nutrients, the most known vitamins being Vitamins A, C, D, and K.

Why are there different types of vitamins and what are their roles?

There are 2 types of Vitamins that our bodies need, Fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve and store fat in places like our livers or fatty tissue over long periods of time. Due to their ability to be stored in the body, it is important that you control your intake of these vitamins because it can be possible to develop a toxicity or health condition due to over-consumption. A few examples of Fat-soluble Vitamins you may have heard of are:

  • Vitamin A – Supports eye health and contributes to immune health and white blood cell production

  • Vitamin E – Protects your body from damage to your cells and inflammation

  • Vitamin D – Contributes to building and maintaining your bones, and reduce inflammation and infections

  • Vitamin K – Helps your blood clotting, and contributes to strengthening bones

Conversely, water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are transported to the body’s tissues for immediate use.  Because they are immediately used in our body’s tissues, this means that these vitamins are not stored, so consuming these vitamins every day whether it’s through supplements or food is very important for your health! Concerns for over-consumption of water-soluble vitamins are less problematic in comparison to fat-soluble vitamins, but there are still limits to the amount you may consume. A few examples of Water-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin B variants (B1, B2, B12, etc.) – Provides your body with sustainable energy, carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, and create healthy red blood cells

  • Vitamin C – Helps you fight off colds and infections

How do I know which Vitamin I am lacking?

It is a bit difficult to estimate or guess what vitamin you may be lacking from your diet based on what you eat regularly, however by observing some minor symptoms you’ve noted in your everyday life, you can get an idea of what you may be lacking. Here is a comprehensive list of a few different symptoms that correlate with varying vitamin deficiencies: **Note: Many vitamin deficiencies have similar symptoms because many of them are linked to similar health conditions.

Vitamin A Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Poor eyesight, skin irritation, infections, infertility

Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Bone pain, tiredness, muscle cramps, mood changes

Vitamin C Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Dry skin, weak immune system, tiredness, joint pain

Vitamin K Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Inability to clot blood, continuous bleeding, osteoporosis

Vitamin B1 Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Weight loss, muscle weakness, memory loss

Vitamin B2 Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Hair loss, itchy eyes, Anemia, sore throat, cracked lips

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, Headaches, Anemia, memory loss, seizures


I have some of these symptoms…what should I do?

If you’ve noticed that you share a few of the symptoms listed above, it means it's time to take notice of your diet and implement some different food groups into your meals! If you find yourself lacking the following vitamins here are some foods or food groups that you can implement into your diet to improve your health!

  • Vitamin A: Leafy greens, tomatoes, milk, eggs, fish, oranges, mangoes

  • Vitamin C: Oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, (white) potatoes

  • Vitamin D: Dairy (milk), salmon, tuna, egg yolks

  • Vitamin E: Almonds, peanuts, spinach, asparagus, avocado, mango

  • Vitamin K: Soybean oil (based foods), soybeans, cheese, eggs, leafy greens, canola oil (based foods)

  • Vitamin B1: Pork, fish, beans, yogurt, rice, peas, lentils

  • Vitamin B2: Yogurt, cheese, eggs, chicken (breast), salmon, almonds, spinach

  • Vitamin B12: Fish, liver, red meat, eggs, poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt


You can also purchase supplemental Vitamins, such as gummy vitamins or pill-based vitamins and consume those once or twice a day. Be sure to read the recommended dosage on the label of the container and follow as needed!

I’m not sure I have a deficiency is there a way I can find out for sure?

If you think you may have a vitamin deficiency speak with your healthcare provider and express your concerns and symptoms to them in an open and honest manner. If you can, ask to get your blood work done and see what the results may infer about your health. At the end of the day, it’s important that you are consuming the necessary nutrients your body needs in order to continue to function to the best of its ability, so don't’ be afraid to ask questions and take the leap to ensure that you’re providing your body with the vitamins it needs!

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Liya Moges is a passionate and dedicated junior studying Biomedical Science, Business, and Law at Georgia State University. She works at Emory University Hospital supporting nurses and physicians on a Complex Medicine floor and uses this opportunity to shadow different physicians in different specialties. In her goal to educate the public about health issues and equal access to care, Liya joined Today’s Patient to address topics such as health and wellness, public health, and diversity inclusion in medicine.

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