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The Kid's Doctor

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Good dental hygiene should begin early

Many patients ask me when their child should begin seeing a dentist. The answer is not always clear. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child see the dentist by 1 year of age, while the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests waiting until a child's birthday (unless they have risk factors for having problems with their teeth).

In my practice, I start talking about dental hygiene from infancy when I discuss fluoride and encourage parents to use tap water when making formula (most cities have fluoride added to their water, but you should check) or to dilute juice (if they give their baby any juice at all).

When the baby's first teeth come in, parents can wipe them off with a soft washcloth. Never leave a bottle in a baby's crib or nurse a child throughout the night, as this may lead to early cavities in the first teeth.

I recommend getting a child a toothbrush at 12-15 months and letting the toddler begin brushing his/her own teeth by mimicking the parents or siblings. Dab on a smidgen of toothpaste with fluoride, but don't let your child just "eat" big globs of toothpaste because they like it. Too much fluoride can also be a problem. (You can buy fluoride-free toothpaste if you are concerned.)

Pediatric dentists encourage parents to floss their children's teeth in the early years.

Many dentists will do what's called a "lap visit" for the first few appointments, during which they let the mother or father hold a 1- or 2-year-old and the dentist gets the child comfortable by opening his/her mouth or having the child look at the dental instruments. For most kids, their first cleaning is done at their 3-year-old visit. Dental checkups are then scheduled every 6 months.

Due to good dental hygiene, many of my patients are cavity free even as they enter their teen years! I wish I could have said the same thing for myself.

( Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.)

Mayo Clinic

Smokers' brains change in response to high levels of nicotine

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is it true that smoking changes your brain somehow, making it harder to stop smoking? If so, how does that happen? Is there anything that can be done to change it back?

ANSWER: Yes, that's true. When you smoke, your brain changes in response to the very high levels of nicotine delivered by cigarettes. Those brain changes cause you to become addicted to nicotine, and that addiction can make stopping smoking very difficult.

Nicoti ne is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine that gets into your body through cigarettes activates structures normally present in your brain called receptors. When these receptors are activated, they release a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. This pleasure response to dopamine is a big part of the nicotine addiction process.

Over time, as you continue to smoke, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain increases. Addicted smokers have billions more of these receptors than nonsmokers do. But not all smokers have such a high level of receptors. That's why some regular smokers can stop smoking without much difficulty.

When you try to stop smoking, the receptors in your brain do not receive nicotine, so the pleasure response is cut off. In addition, low levels of nicotine lead to symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as strong cravings for a cigarette, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger and difficulty sleeping. The fastest way to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms is to smoke a cigarette, which releases dopamine and activates the pleasure response.

To make stopping smoking even more difficult, the brain receptors can be conditioned to expect nicotine in certain situations long after you've stopped smoking. For example, if you regularly smoke when you drink alcohol, or when you're in a stressful situation, or after a meal, the nicotine receptors in your brain anticipate the dopamine rush from nicotine at that time. These "trigger" situations can cause intense cravings for a cigarette, even if you've stopped smoking for several months.

The good news is that once you stop smoking entirely, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain will eventually return to normal. As that happens, the craving response will occur less often, won't last as long or be as intense and, in time, will fade away completely.

Because of its effects on your brain, nicotine can be powerfully addictive. For many people, overcoming nicotine addiction and successfully dealing with its withdrawal symptoms requires medical treatment. Medications are available that can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, while support and guidance from a tobacco dependence treatment program can help you learn how to change your behavior in ways that increase your chances of staying smoke-free.

Although stopping smoking can be hard, it's well worth the effort. Your health will benefit almost immediately. Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate slows. Twelve hours later, levels of carbon monoxide - a toxic gas - in your blood return to normal. Your lung function improves and your circulation starts to get better within three months. After a year, your risk of having a heart attack drops by half. And after five to 15 years, your stroke risk will be the same as that of a nonsmoker.

I f you smoke, talk to your doctor about stopping smoking. Your doctor can provide medications and support and can also refer you to treatment programs in your area that can are available to help you. Stopping smoking is a process, so take it one step at a time. - Richard D. Hurt, M.D., Nicotine Dependence Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

( Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn't replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or write: Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.)

The Wine Guy: Resveratrol - Wonder of the natural world

Best of The Wine Guy

The Wine Guy
with Anthony Scarano

In China and Japan they use the healing herb known as kojokan to treat arteriosclerosis, inflammatory illnesses and fungal infections of the feet.

Kojo-kan, also known as Japanese knotweed, contains resveratrol, a chemical that is anticancer, antiviral, neuroprotective, antiaging, anti-inflammatory and lifeprolonging. Resveratrol is found in peanuts, the skin of red grapes, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, bilberries and the berries of some pines including Scots pine and eastern white pine.

For many years the medicinal properties of resveratrol were known in Asia, but more recent research in the United States and Europe has made it known to the Western world. Resveratrol can protect against cardiovascular disease because it is an antioxidant that lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol, and counteracts the production of substances along arterial and veinal walls. It also has the ability to weaken the coagulative properties of the blood, effectively acting as a healthy, natural blood thinner that inhibits blood clots.

Much more research is needed on red wine to uncover its valuable secrets. When drunk in moderation red wine, because it contains resveratrol, is an excellent preventative of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke, and improves circulation. It is a guardian of health and a truly miraculous drink. Red wine is such a powerful antibacterial agent that when added to water that contains cholera bacteria, the cholera can be killed off and the water may be rendered safe to drink. During the 18th century cholera outbreaks in Paris, persons who drank wine were spared from this horrible illness, which can cause the sickened person to lose up to 20 liters of bodily fluids through diarrhea in less than one day - if dehydration doesn't kill the victim first.

Red wine is also effective in preventing "traveler's diarrhea," which is caused by polluted water and foods in regions with unsanitary conditions. The locals in these places are immune to the bacteria present in their water because their bodies have dealt with it their entire lives, but travelers are susceptible and can suffer serious bouts of intestinal infection. Travelers to places such as Mexico and Central America should carry wine with them to keep from getting sick. It is not the alcohol in wine, so tequila or other alcoholic beverages will not work.

Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.

Health Scan

Orland Twp. Wellness Program

Residents in need of medical services may purchase a discount Wellness Program voucher at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., during office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. Proof of residency is required.

The Wellness Program offers services at a discount of up to 50 percent. The services include adult and children's physicals ($40 and $35), podiatry screenings ($30 and $25-senior), dental screenings ($15), dental examinations and cleanings ($50), dental examinations, cleanings and xrays ($100), nutrition consultations ($40), vision examinations ($45) and chiropractic examinations ($45).

Residents may choose a participating doctor from the Wellness Program doctors list, which can be found at www.orlandtwp. org and once the voucher is purchased, an appointment can be scheduled directly with the doctor's office. (403-4222)

Dee Woods: It's hard to get away from fluoride

MIXING IT UP FOR GOOD HEALTH
By Dee Woods

It's about time to share those health tidbits that many people are unaware of. I do this every once and awhile after I've collected them for review and updating.

Here's an interesting piece of information from Dr. Robert Rowen's newsletter on fluoride. The U.S. government (via Health and Human Services) has finally admitted 1 part per million (which is the recommended level in drinking water) inhibits the DNA repair enzyme by 50 percent. Another admission by the government is that since fluoride is chemically similar to iodine, it can disrupt iodine absorption of actual iodine needed by the thyroid. It's good these dangers were acknowledged, but wait - they recommend even lower amounts for the water supply.

While that certainly is helpful the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now permitting fluoride up to 900 parts per million to be sprayed on dried eggs. They also allow a fluoride-containing antifungal to be used on crops and processed foods.

"The EPA permits leaving a fluoride residue of 7 p.m. on several foods, including citrus fruits, berries, vegetables and even wines," Rowen wrote.

Fluoride levels in drinking water have been decreased by 30 percent while other foods contain up to 7 parts per million - a level way more than we can handle safely! We can't win unless we use only genuine organic foods. Don't think the government is really here to help you. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

In the same issue (October 2012), Rowen points to a 14- year French study of 4,500 people that found those taking multivitamins containing vitamin C and E, selenium, zinc and betacarotene have far better memory than the placebo group.

Rowen also says senior citizens must take resveratrol. Not only does it protects the heart, but it was recently discovered to help with mobility, he said. Researchers suggest resveratrol modulates damage done to neurons from high levels of dopamine. He suggests it be used by Parkinson's patients as well. While Parkinson's patients take drugs to increase dopamine levels, resveratrol can mitigate the damage caused by such high levels of dopamine.

In yet another study, researchers checked the vitamin D levels of 45 asthmatic children and found that only 11 percent had normal vitamin D levels.

Dr. Julian Whittaker had a few tidbits of his own in his October newsletter. He pointed out that a study of 1,200 middle school students found significant links between cardio-respiratory fitness and scores on math and reading tests, whatever that means.

Research suggests that reducing the time you sit to less than three hours per day could increase life expectancy by two years.

For people who exercise regularly, drinking two-thirds of a cup of tomato juice per day protects against exercise-induced freeradical damage.

In a study of 4,800 women 65 years and older, 78 percent were seriously deficient in vitamin D.

Whitaker writes: "The journal Diabetes Care recently published a study of 240 adults with prediabetes- abnormally high blood sugar levels-who were randomly assigned to take either curcumin capsules (1,500 milligrams daily in divided doses) or a placebo. After nine months, 16 percent of the 116 patients taking the placebo had developed type 2 diabetes, while none of the 110 patients taking curcumin did."

The conclusion of the study was that curcumin extract may be used for intervention therapy for pre-diabetes. Of course, it should go without saying, curcumin (with Meriva) should be taken regularly just because of its anti-inflammatory effects and help preventing so many other diseases. I always find these bits of information useful and will be expanding research on a few.

Dee Woods is available to give presentations about alternative health treatments and healthy living. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .