Healthy mouth, healthy body

11th June 2016 by

Fitness and health expert Shannon Cunningham – a patient at Bow Lane – teams up with dentist James Goolnik to offer some key fitness advice to keep you in tip top condition this summer

Stay hydrated

Shannon says: Did you know our bodies are up to 60% water and our brain consists of up to 78%? H2O is essential to good health and is one of the key pillars in my system for fitness. Drink 8-12 glasses of water a day. It maintains the balance of body fluids, energises muscles, helps our digestion and bowel function and our circulation, and gets rid of toxins. Lack of water can lead to migraines, weight gain and, remember, the water has to be good, quality water – and certainly not from alcohol or coffee. I suggest that you add only natural, organic and live foods to your water to enhance the zesty flavour and the nutritional value of the water. I totally love adding grated ginger or thinly sliced cucumber. This makes the water so easy to guzzle down. I also like adding a 1/3 of a cup of mint leaves to it. These little techniques really help the body to detoxify and cleanse itself of accumulated poisons and acids, which is always a bonus.

James says: Water cleans your mouth, washing away leftover food that attracts bacteria and diluting the acids produced by the bacteria. Sports or energy drinks contain very high amounts of caffeine and have been found to have serious adverse effects. Their high acidity levels can also lead to tooth erosion. So, even though sports drinks may help improve your performance, it’s important to weigh the risks you are taking to your oral health, too. Water is the best option for rehydration! At Bow Lane, we’ve invested in a CleanCert Reverse Osmosis 5 stage filtration system to remove 99.98% of impurities from the mains water, which is used for all our sterilisers and water for the treatment rooms so we can now guarantee consistently high quality water.

Eat healthily

Shannon says: It’s important to eat food that revitalises and energises us. Be conscious of factoring live, water-rich foods into your diet, such as broccoli, spinach, oranges, apples, lettuce and carrots, beetroot and watermelon. I like green and yellow vegetables as they contain all the life-giving elements that you need to be healthy, strong and vital. And say no to sugar. Sugar is acid forming and refined sugars are very bad for our blood sugar levels. When we eat foods that are acid forming, they cause our blood to become acidic, which means a reduction in the effective function of carrying nutrients to every part of our body. Eating sugar can also lead to yeast infections and feeds bad bacteria. Include protein in your diet and eat fruit and almonds and other foodstuff that optimise the function of the brain and body and complement any exercise routine. It helps to keep a food diary so you can assess what you are consuming and see where it needs adjusting if need be.

James says: We all need to refuel, but we are what we eat and our mouths are very often the first part of our bodies to take the brunt of poor diets. Diet is a major aetiological factor for dental decay (caries) and enamel erosion, and what you eat not only impacts on the development of your teeth but also your resistance to many oral conditions, including gum diseases and oral cancer. Frequent sugary attacks on your teeth cause rapid decay, which leads to cavities and increases the likeliness for fillings and other dental treatments. An excess of sugar puts strain on your liver increasing the fatty acids in your blood (which may be stored as fat) and it increases the chances of a number of metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes and heart disease). Not to mention its impact on your sleep, concentration and energy levels. The list could go on. And if you are eating healthily, make sure you eat your fruit, don’t drink it!


Shannon says: Any aerobic-based exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, running and cycling, are essential for mind and body. Stress is a modern-day factor that affects many of us – especially those of us working in the city. If you’re feeling the pressure, leave your desk and walk around the office for 10 minutes. Factor in regular screen breaks and stretches to your working day and turn stairwells into your fitness friend by choosing the steps instead of the lift – whether it’s two flights or 10 (lots of steps at Bow Lane). By parking farther from the store, office or gym, you are burning more calories. Little walks add up. But, just as important, don’t forget to relax and switch off. Stress hormones stimulate fat cells to grow and multiply.

James says: Modern life can be stressful so it’s always a good thing to reflect on what we put our bodies through and how we can minimise the impact of stress. Stress can manifest in the mouth as pain, bruxism, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and gum disease. With any stress-related dental problems, I always take a thorough history to identify the most obvious reasons for them and the extent it impinges on the patient’s life. Treatments could include a splint (for bruxism) anti-stress medication, Botox into the jaw muscles, orthodontics to move the teeth and lifestyle changes. Mouth ulcers can be triggered by stress. The most important thing is to keep your mouth very clean and not to touch ulcers with your fingers. Maintaining good oral hygiene and use of an antiseptic mouthwash or spray (e.g. chlorhexidine) can prevent secondary infection and, therefore, slow healing. If you have an ulcer that has not healed in three weeks you must see your dentist.

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