Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I am Vitamin D Deficient

My doctor recently tested me for Vitamin D among other things after I complained of minor gastrointestinal issues. A few months prior I had learned that my nummular eczema may be due to a Vitamin D deficiency. I had long wondered why the lesions were worse in the winter and all-but-disappeared in the summer. The Vitmain D test came back a bit below the "normal" range and my doctor recommended that I take a 1000 IU Vitamin D supplement.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a NYTimes article highlighting the scope of the Vitamin D problem. It seems to be quite widespread and serious; and not enough is being done to raise awareness and compensate for our lack of UVB exposure due to sunscreen and jobs and lifestyles which rarely take us outdoors during the peak exposure hours (10am-3pm).

I'm quite happy to have solved one more piece of the puzzle known as my body and I hope awareness continues to build. If you've never been tested for Vitamin D, consider asking your doctor to test you for it in your next visit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thyroid-stimulating hormone

I didn't even know I had a Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) until I got test results from my doctor indicating that it may be lower than normal. I visited him about a month ago with gastrointestinal discomfort and unexpected weight loss. He ran a battery of tests including for TSH. My level was low, indicating that I may be producing too much thyroid hormones (thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)). I was worried that this might have been a result of me not getting enough iodoine because my wife and I eat most of our meals at home using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which does not contain iodine unlike table salts. My doctor said he'd expect the reverse since iodine is required to produce the thyroid hormones. So, if I were low on iodine, he'd expect low levels of thyroid hormones which would cause the Hypothalamus to produce more TSH and result in a high TSH test result. He did blood work today to do a full battery of thyroid tests. I'll report back when I find out the results.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bye, Bye Biotene

Welp, I gave it a fair try. I've been using Biotene toothpaste and mouthwash for just under a month now. Since starting Biotene, I've had two canker sores on my lower-left lip. The first appeared after I ate hot, acidic food (pizza), so I gave Biotene a pass. The first has since gone away. But, when a second sore appeared, I wasn't willing to wait any longer. When using Trader Joe's peppermint toothpaste over the past 3-4 years (and eating a wide variety of foods), I've seen canker sores very rarely and never two in such close time proximity. I suspect that the problem is the detergent in the Biotene toothpaste (Isoceteth-20), but also wonder about the mouthwash, which contains propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a possible cause of contact dermatitis.

Update 7/14: My remaining canker sore is almost completely healed 2 days after I switched from Biotene back to Trader Joe's toothpaste.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Periodontist Visit

Today I went to see Dr. Jeffrey Freedman, a periodontist recommended to me by colleagues at work and Consumer's Checkbook. He was very nice and walked me through the current status of my gums and the possible actions which can be taken. He also gave me a little tour of my mouth and gums. My upper gums are in good shape. He noticed no bleeding, swelling or recession. My lower gums aren't bad. He identified two teeth with recession, the two first bicuspids. The recessions are 1 mm (left) and 2 mm (right). He told me about the different parts of the gum. The lower, soft tissue and the upper, firm tissue. Most of my front, lower teeth have lost their firm gum tissue, though my canines are still okay. My upper teeth still have a good amount of the firm gum tissue. He told me about three similar invasive approaches:

  1. transplant mouth roof surface skin on top of existing gum - he said this was the most traditional action and takes 10-12 days to fully recover
  2. transplant mouth roof underneath skin under existing gum - this increases bulk of the existing firm gum
  3. use cadaver skin under existing gum - same as #2 except using skin from a dead body
Dr. Freedman said that my current condition is mild and it would be perfectly reasonable to wait and observe. This is the option I chose. Slightly frustrating was the fact that he didn't think there was much I could do to prevent the problem from getting worse. He said to continue my usual brushing. He said to continue to use a very soft brush and to not press hard when brushing. He also suggested to not overthink teeth and gum care. I'm not sure I can do that :-)

I'm guessing I won't see tremendously different advice from another periodontist. I'm planning to see a different dentist for my next check-up. At least I'll get another opinion on whether I can do anything to help the situation. For now, I've eliminated sugary carbonated beverages (Coke), greatly reduced my acidic liquid consumption (black tea) and am trying a toothpaste and mouthwash that are supposedly good for dry mouth (my mouth dries out overnight). Dr. Freedman said I can't do anything to get the gum tissue to regrow, but I'd like to at least know what I can do to minimize gum loss.