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Health Q&A

Posted September 05, 2012 in Advice Column, Urbandale

Q: Can nail-biting pose any dental problems?

A: Unfortunately, nail-biting is more than an unsightly habit. The habit can leave more than stunted fingernails. It can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joints, the joints in front of the ears where the jawbone meets, also known as the TMJs.

Any activity, like nail-biting, that involves holding the teeth in an unnatural position for extended periods increases the possibility of injury to the TMJ. Over a long period, the unnatural position of the jaws involved in nail-biting will stretch the muscles in the jaw, causing pain and throwing off balance of the TMJs. If a very young child begins the habit, it can contribute to a gap developing between the front two teeth. Also the type of person who is prone to nail and finger biting may also be prone to picking at their gums.

Some dentists and physicians recommend putting a non-toxic, unpleasant-tasting lotion in the fingers. Other believe putting a bandage on a finger could serve as a reminder and deterrent. If you have a nail-biter in your house or you are yourself a nail-biter, talk with your dentist about ways to break the habit.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q: What are some natural solutions for depression?

A: Depression is a major problem in the United States and can manifest itself in many different ways from feeling deep sadness to lack of motivation. But keep your chin up — there are natural measures to deal with depression that are both safe and effective. This month we will discuss diet and nutrition. Stay tuned next month for more natural options.

• First off: Drink water (take your body weight and divide it by two, and that’s your minimum amount) to help the liver detoxify the body. Eat whole foods high in complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, yams and lentils because they contain serotonin which affects mood.  Don’t forget fish, nuts, avocados and seeds (especially flax, sunflower and pumpkin) which contain essential fats as well as taking a concentrated omega 3 — this alone could cause depression.

• Foods high in chlorophyll such as spirulina, wheat grass and blue-green algae also contain essential fats. Drink a tablespoon of chlorophyll supplement in your water daily. Certain fresh fruits like blackberries, blueberries and raspberries help the flow of energy through the liver. Greens First supplement contains the antioxidant equivalent of 15 fruits and vegetables and can easily be put into daily smoothies.

• St. John’s Wort has been proven as an antidepressant.

• Avoid sugars, alcohol, smoking, caffeine and diet drinks (which contain chemical sweeteners that can trigger depression). Also, getting regular exercise may be the most powerful antidepressant available. Exercise increases the body’s feel good hormone called endorphins.

Important note: For more information on these supplements, visit our website at Stay tuned for next month’s natural ways to defeat depression.

Information provided by Dr. Jessa Kane, CACCP, Yost Family Chiropractic, 3993 100th St., Urbandale,

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