Sunday, 14 December 2014

Seven tips to a peaceful Christmas

Image source

Christmas Greetings

Christmas has descended upon us again at lightning speed.

If you are anything like me you don't feel that you are ready and that there is still too much to do before the day comes.

But make sure that you step back and give yourself perspective.  Regardless if you believe Christmas to have a religious meaning or not, it does give us a chance to come together with friends and family and look at the year.  To forgive each other for wrongs, shed grudges, and enjoy time with people who are important to us.

It is a time to think of others and how we are so blessed. Whilst spare some time to share with those less fortunate.

Also spare a thought for those who are going to find this a tough Christmas as they have lost love ones and are still dealing with the pain of that loss.

Some hints to prevent Christmas from consuming you...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Dental Health Week - Who is the sugar Bandit?

Dental Health Week
4-10 August 2014

Dental Health Week is an initiative of the Australian Dental Association to help raise awareness of the dental issues that Australians face. This year the campaign focuses on the oral health of babies and toddlers with a specific focus on the effects of sugar.

The facts about sugar 
  • Consumption of high levels of Sugary foods and drinks is believed to be the number 1 cause of tooth decay
  • Australians consume more than double the world’s average (17tsp per person per day) of sugar
  • 33% of Australian parents allow their children to consume soft drink, fruit juice and energy drinks 4 or more times per week
              • Fruit juice and soft drinks have a similar level of sugar!! So excessive consumption of fruit juice can also be implicated in diabetes, tooth decay and obesity!!

Credit: Australian Dental Association Inc via website

Are your kids being spoilt rotten?

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting our children. It is completely preventable with proper oral hygiene and limited consumption of sugar. Dental decay occurs when our teeth are exposed to acid for extended periods of time resulting in cavities developing. This acid is naturally produced when we eat and it has been found that sugar is the number one cause of decay as sugary foods tend to get stuck in their teeth resulting in numerous acid attacks.

Unfortunately, many foods that are advertised or believed to be ‘healthy’ snacks can actually be quite high in sugar content, for example fruit bars, canned fruit and children’s cereal. When choosing snacks for kids it is important to look at the nutritional label and check how much sugar is in it. It is ok for these foods to still be enjoyed but it is best if only eaten in moderation, for their dental health and overall health and. well-being1.

Sugar is not the whole equation as there are so many contributors, but Australians (as does most of the "western world") easily gets too much sugar, so reducing intake will help reduce many health risks, including teeth.

Oral Hygiene Guidelines for Little Ones

Taking care of your child's pearly whites from the moment they appear is the best way to help prevent dental decay which is seen in more than 48% of Australian kids aged five years old.

Bub’s first teeth
  • Use a toothbrush with a small head and rounded soft bristles to brush their teeth twice a day, using only plain water
  • After 18 months of age, continue to brush their teeth twice a day but use a tiny amount of low-fluoride toothpaste. Encourage your little one to spit out after brushing.

  • At the age of 4-5 your child will be able to brush their teeth on their own. It is important you continue to assist them as it is not until about 8 years old that their dexterity allows them to clean them well.

Brushing Technique
  • Position yourself and your child so that you can easily see in their mouth. For example, stand them in front of you with their head slightly tilted back
  • In small gentle circles clean the front surface of their teeth
  • For the back teeth use a back and forth motion for the biting and grinding surfaces
  • Pay special attention to the gum line
  • You should aim to brush their teeth for 2 minutes twice a day
  • Don’t forget to floss either

At first, your child may find this difficult to tolerate but be patient, with time they will adapt to it. You may find it useful to make the experience of cleaning their teeth fun, you could play a favourite song or sing a nursery rhyme, offer a reward (not the sweet kind!) such as a cuddle after a 2 minute teeth cleaning session and encourage them to practice good oral hygiene by setting an example. 2

My son loves being upside down, but hates cleaning his teeth. So we made a game and combined the two. Now he is much more tolerant of the toothbrush (he still complains, but we get the job done).

WARNING: The family dentist mentioned be careful not to brush soon after eating otherwise the toothpaste can coat the particles and lock the acids under the "protective coating" and speed up decay. Best to give it 20 minutes and rinse the mouth before brushing.

Checking for Decay
  • Lift up their top lip and roll down their lower lip
  • If you see white patches on the teeth near the gums this is an early indication of tooth decay
  • If you notice grey, brown or black spots any where on the teeth book in to have them checked with your dentist
  • Other signs include complaints of a sore tooth, waking regularly in the night or if they regularly have bad breath3

Water is one essential part of the healthy teeth. Water is important for the body to maintain the acid balance and eliminate excess acids.  Water also directly dilutes the acids in the mouth so it is good to drink and swish the mouth out before brushing.      

Beware replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners: They may have less impact on teeth but they are implicated in metabolic disorders, weight gain and other toxic side effects when consumed in high amounts.

Acupuncture for Dental Health

Acupuncture is the most long standing health care system in the world, dating back at least 2000 years. For more information about acupuncture and what it can be used to treat click here.

The World Health Organisation recognises that acupuncture may assist in managing the toothache, post extraction pain and gingivitis. It is not a replacement for the expert advice of dentists, but may help assist in the symptoms of pain.

Recent studies have also shown that some herbs used as a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine may help protect teeth and gums. One particular ingredient has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent tooth loss as a result of infection and inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth.5

Chinese Medicine doesn't deal so much with the surface of the surface of the teeth (that is your Dentist's domain), but is focused on ensuring your body nourishes, supplies and protects the teeth from the inside.  Things like balancing the function of the saliva and keeping the bodies natural acid control mechanisms working may help a lot. These are things that may be overlooked by other fields.

Osteopathy for Dental Health
Many people aren’t aware that manipulations of the jaw, neck and surrounding areas may help treat some dental ailments. For example, a toothache may actually stem from the upper part of the neck, causing the nerves in the face to be over-stimulated and irritated.

Healthy teeth and gums require the correct alignment of the jaw. Malocclusion (misaligned jaw bones) can be a result of many events, including the birthing process and direct trauma such as a knock to the chin. Even having work done by a dentist can result in this problem as our mouths are not designed to be forced open for extended periods of time.

Misaligned jaws can result in the following issues
  • Heavily worn teeth
  • Teeth that are not straight in the
  • Broken teeth or fillings
  • Credit: Giuliamar via pixabay
    Clenching or grinding the teeth particularly at night
  • Headaches and jaw aches

If left untreated, orthodontic or orthopedic work may be needed, this can be expensive and traumatic to the body. Your Osteopath may help reduce the likelihood of malocclusion, which may help ensure optimal dental health.6

To maintain dental health or treat existing dental issues book in to see our Acupuncturist or Osteopath by calling 8346-3495.

1. Australian Dental Association Inc. (2014). Get ready to catch the sugar bandit in your family

2. Gymbaroo (2014). Taking care of baby’s ‘pearly whites’. First Steps, issue 83

3. Australian Dental Association Inc (n.d.) Tooth Decay: Does your child have this disease?

4. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (2014). Acupuncture

5. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (2014). Traditional chinese herb protects teeth and gums

6. Dr Farid Shodjaee (2004). Osteopathy and Dentistry

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Do you know pain?

National Pain Week
21-27 July 2014

Image Credit: Tearsintherain via flikr under cc

‘Pain is Ageless’ is the theme for this years National Pain Week, an initiative of Chronic Pain Australia. It aims to bring awareness that chronic pain affects not only the individual but also their family and friends and it does not discriminate, it can affect people of any age and background.¹

What is pain?
Pain is something that all of us have experienced, to some degree, at some time in our life. Pain is a completely subjective experience, making it very difficult to define by a list of symptoms. 
It can't be detected or measured by any existing technology. 
X-rays, CT's and MRI's only show changes to the tissue, but not what pain it might cause. Often pain exists with no detectable change to the body tissues.

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as
“an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”.

It is really important to note from this definition is that pain may not be actual damage but a warning of threat of harm. This is often the case, particularly with more long lasting pain.

Pain can be simplified into categorised into four main types
  • Acute pain: Lasts for a short period of time. Often it occurs as a result of surgery, trauma or other condition. It acts as a warning that the body needs time to repair. At this stage health care professionals may have good advice and be able to help manage the pain.
  • Sub-acute pain: This is the phase when acute pain begins to progress to chronic pain. During this stage, treatment may help prevent this progression.
  • Recurrent pain: Occurs in a cycle. Examples include migraines and pelvic pain.
  • Chronic pain: Lasts over an extended period of time, usually longer than 3 months. It is associated with increased levels of pain and may also affect surrounding tissue and nerves not just the area of injury.

There are more complex categorisations of pain that are growing in their use as our understanding of pain science increases, but in order to avoid information overload they will not be discussed in this article.

Acute pain has the potential to progress to chronic pain when left untreated or under-treated. Ongoing pain has the ability to alter nerve pathways, which can result in an over active nervous system. The normal mechanisms that are responsible for blocking and reducing pain can be inhibited, resulting in routine activities causing pain.²

Chronic Pain
After an injury or surgery most people expect that the pain associated with these cases will gradually go away (acute pain). Unfortunately, for 1 in 5 Australians this is not the case and their pain persists over an extended period of time. Chronic pain impacts the individual physically, emotionally and socially, often interfering with their daily functions.³

Of those who suffer with chronic pain, approximately 13% have no medical explanation for their pain. This can be very frustrating for the individual and it can result in a feeling of isolation due to the stigma and lack of awareness in the community. Although the original injury causing the pain may have healed, it is still very real and has a significant impact.⁴

Chronic Pain Management
Image Credit: Wintersixfour via Morgue Files under cc
The primary objective of pain management is to reduce the impact and disability the pain may cause, helping to improve the quality of life.

The most common treatment for chronic pain is the use of prescription medication, however recently the American Society of Anesthesiologists have published recommendations that pharmacologic intervention should not be prescribed as a first treatment option, instead physical therapies should be the initial response to treatment of chronic pain.⁵

At Be Smart Get Supple we offer a variety of physical therapies that may be helpful for pain management, these include Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Massage therapy. Our practitioners utilise a variety of evidence based techniques and equipment, both traditional and modern, to assist in pain relief.

Acupuncture is generally considered helpful for pain relief in many circumstances. Researchers have found that it calms down areas in the brain that are responsible for processing pain by changing specific neural structures. To find out more click here.  Among other things Acupuncture encourages the release of endorphins (your happy hormones), which act as a natural pain killer as well as promoting your body’s own self healing properties.⁶

Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy are all focused on increasing blood flow, soothing tissue irritation, restoring function and encouraging the body’s self healing capacity to help resolve the pain. Our practitioners provide advice on pain management strategies and help you return to your normal activities safely. All treatments are tailored to your individual symptoms but may include massage, ultrasound, interferential therapy, Biomesotherapy (Brendon Supple only) and manual manipulations as well as prescribe exercises to assist your recovery.

Ultrasound uses sound waves which vibrate the body tissue to reduce inflammation, improve tissue strength, stimulate cells to reduce local irritants and help calm nerve cells.
Interferential Current Therapy (IFT): Aims to prompt a pain relieving response from the body through the application of a low frequency electrical current that is passed through the skin via electrodes. It is believed that this can help reduce pain by blocking the transmission of pain signals or by stimulating the release of endorphins.⁷
Biomesotherapy: Involves placing sterile saline solution (same composition as our natural body fluid) under the skin to help stimulate your body’s natural healing capabilities.⁸

Tips to Help Manage Pain
It is important to recognise that your thoughts, emotions and actions all affect the pain you experience, your role in managing your symptoms is essential.

Here a few tips for helping you manage your pain levels
  • Ask for help: Reach out for advice when you need it. Talk with your healthcare professional or call Chronic Pain Australia (02 9481 0189) for support and understanding
  • Use relaxation techniques: This is different to just relaxing, it aims to calm the mind which helps to calm the pain. During stress your muscles tighten which can increase pain levels, deep breathing and meditation are examples of techniques that can reduce stress and help you manage your pain. Find something that works for you.
  • Set realistic goals: Focus on your abilities and set goals that are achievable and discuss with your healthcare professional . Break down larger goals into smaller more manageable goals. Most importantly celebrate your success.
  • Get a good nights sleep: This can be difficult if you are experiencing pain but it is essential that you get the rest your body needs. Click here for more information about sleep and our top 10 tips for increasing the likelihood of getting a good nights sleep.⁹

  • Challenge negative thoughts: It is important for you to question every negative thought and belief you have about your pain. This will help manage your pain and help decrease the risk of depression.¹ยบ For more information about depression, its symptoms, and tips to help improve your mood click here
  • Remember NOT ALL pain is harm: especially in the case of chronic pain. The chronic nature of the pain means it often lasts beyond when the tissue has repaired. While at times there is still degenerated tissue (e.g. arthritis) the pain does not mean that you are doing harm. Pain is a signal of a PERCEIVED threat of harm - this can be physical or emotional. It is important to get professional advice to help know what pain to listen to and which can be pushed through. 
  • Seek education and understanding of the pain: Chronic pain can be managed much more better with the understanding of what is happening in the body and nervous system with chronic pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain, or it seems things are not recovering the way you should you may benefit from advice from a health professional. Similarity if you are looking for ways to improve the quality of life with chronic pain some advice may be of assistance. To learn more call us on 8346 3495 to book an appointment.

1. Chronic Pain Australia. (2014). Pain is ageless
2. Pain Australia. (n.d.) Fact sheet 1: The nature and science of pain
3. Australian Pain Management Association (2013) What is chronic pain?
4. Pfizer (2011). Health report: Chronic pain.
5. COCA (2014) On choosing wisely. COCA Newsletter vol.20, 1
6. State Government of Victoria (2014). Pain Management
7. Electrotherapy on the web. (n.d.). Interferential Therapy
8. Australasian Association of Homotoxicology. (n.d.) Biomesotherapy: Helping your body heal
9. Janssen-Cilag (2008). Coping with persistent pain
10. Anxiety Treatment Australia. (2014). Chronic pain management psychologist