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Steven Lin, DDS, is on a journey; a journey to help educate how whole body health begins with dental health and a dental health diet. It's an oral-systemic link that Lin says today is clearer than ever. And through a newly released book and a continuing education course, he's excited to help start this important conversation.
Why does tooth decay happens to people who do brush their teeth, and doesn’t happen to those who don’t brush?
Brushing and flossing are not as important as you think.
Sound strange? Perhaps, but it’s one of the many myths Steven Lin, DDS, is looking to clear up.
“Modern dental health is a disaster zone, and many of us are missing essential routines that could prevent further damage,” Lin says. “This harms your whole body.”
“This” is the connection between nutrition and dental health, and the recognition of the oral-systemic link: our mouths affect our body, and our bodies affect our mouths. It’s also the focus of Lin’s new book, The Dental Diet, released this month, that he hopes will jump start the conversation.
Lin trained in dentistry at the University of Sydney in Australia, but had a previous background in biomedical science. The latter helped form the foundation for his passion as a whole-health advocate. But the more immersed he became in dentistry, the further he moved from the idea that the body and nutrition are crucial to overall health and lifestyle.
Once he began practicing, however, he found that dentistry wasn’t addressing the root causes of certain conditions. He began looking for answers for why tooth decay happens to people who do brush their teeth, and doesn’t happen to those who don’t brush.
“These are things that pop up in oral surgery that really aren’t explained in dental school,” Lin says. “The dental industry has been telling people for some time to brush and floss and look after your teeth, but we haven’t taken the nutritional approach.”
Lin’s search brought him to the work of Weston A. Price, a Cleveland Dentist (1870-1948), who has been called the Isaac Newton of nutrition because of his theories on the relationship between nutrition, dental health and physical health. Initially, Lin was unimpressed.
“I felt like [Price] had something wrong, because I had my dental training, and I had my degrees, and none of this was talked about in my degree, so it can’t be right,” Lin recalls thinking. “So I went back to practicing, but it kept bugging me.”
Lin would return to Price’s work, and also delve deeply into material from medical practitioners about the link between nutrition and health. He began to recalibrate the way he approached his own nutritional intake, and eventually “stripped down” his own diet. He found he’d been consuming a lot of sugar every day but hadn’t noticed some of the related problems: getting sick several times a year; sports-related injuries not healing as quickly; low energy level; and poor sleeping habits.
“I changed all that, and it completely shifted my body,” Lin says. “It was difficult because I had to take myself off sugar. But I found that Price’s message of eating and understanding our body from a different angle and treating it the way it needs to be treated by trying to restrict calories and meal portions made a lot more sense to me.”
Today, Lin focuses on helping his patients prevent dental disease and thus avoid treatment — a preventative approach not unlike the growing philosophy within the medical community. He looks for the root cause of disease and is convinced that diet is the cause of many oral health problems, including crooked and rotten teeth, and inflamed gums.
“We have some big problems, and I think teeth hold a lot of the answers,” he says. “There is a real movement within the healthcare industry, and I think the dental industry needs to push this along.”
Lin, for one, is pushing. His new book, The Dental Diet, is described as a journey of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome, and epigenetics. It explains the foods for healthy teeth based on the Weston A. Price Diet that not only improve oral health but overall health as well.
The book includes a Forward by Mark Hyman, MD, a physician, scholar and New York Times best-selling author, that states, in part:
“Dr. Steven Lin’s book is instrumental in shifting our perspective to complete bodily health and getting to the root cause of disease. No longer will we see our teeth and oral health as merely comprising a warning system for issues with the rest of the body. Instead, we will recognize that our teeth and oral health are functional and essential contributors to our overall wellness.”
Lin also teaches a two-day Dental Nutrition course that is PACE accredited for continuing education that has run in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The goal, he says, is to help practitioners better understand how nutrition shapes the oral-systemic connection, and how to recalibrate the understanding of dental disease.
“We as dental practitioners need to be the leaders of this conversation,” Lin says. “Unfortunately, there’s so much bad information out there and patients are confused. The dental surgeon needs to be the hub of where they can get good information.”
ACTIVE AND INVOLVED
Lin leads an active lifestyle — swimming, running and working out at the gym, which he says helps him unwind at the end of a day.
He also loves to travel and meet health professionals from different fields. That, in part, is how he hopes to spread the word about the connection between nutrition and dental health.
“I’ve found that when people have long-standing oral disease, they do tend to reach a level of hopelessness,” Lin says. “When they understand, when they learn that their food and lifestyle can influence and have a large impact on their future and also on their children’s oral health, there is a sense of hope in their eyes.”
That’s why Lin hopes his book, The Dental Diet, finds its way into dental practice waiting rooms as part of patients’ choice of reading material. Filled with more than 300 scientific references, the book is applicable to both patients and oral health professionals.
“It’s very much designed for patients to digest and easily take this information, enjoy it, and integrate it into their treatment plan with a dentist.”
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