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The Health Secrets of Our AAOSH Champs

At the 2017 AAOSH Scientific Session in Salt Lake City, we held our Oral Systemic Health Champion contest once again. Our top finishers have agreed to talk more about their health secrets and other trends affecting the oral-systemic community. We might as well learn form the best, right?

Anthony Previte, RN

Anthony Previte, a registered nurse from Texas, was our winner this year with a total of 95 out of 100 points. Previte gives major credit to his wife, Rebecca, a registered nurse, and his mother-in-law Jennifer Scott, a dentist from De Soto, Texas, for his health acumen.

“Not only is my wife Rebecca a great cook, she is always trying to incorporate healthy and whole foods into our diet. I think having a ready supply of clean, home cooked foods helps keep me from unhealthy processed foods I know are bad for me,” said Previte.

On meal preparation and diet, Previte said: “We do not subscribe to one specific diet strictly; we follow the “Paleo” or “Whole30” guidelines most consistently. We both have busy workweeks with varying hours. Her meal prepping has helped tremendously.”

Intermittent fasting is another secret Previte uses to live a healthier lifestyle. “Fortunately, intermittent fasting has been easily applied to my life due to the nature of my job. I am an RN in the ICU and work nights. I naturally go for long periods of time without eating, only grabbing water during busy shifts, then come home and sleep. So, by default, I might go 12-18 hours without eating. It was not until later that I discovered that this could have great health benefits and I now practice the fasting regularly.” Previte recommends for first-time practitioners of intermittent fasting that they start slowly by skipping only one meal at first, drink plenty of water to fill up on, and most importantly, keep busy. AAOSH recommends seeking the advice of your physician before starting any new diet program.

It should be no surprise that Previte gets a great boost of oral health influence from his mother-in-law dentist, Dr. Jenny Scott. “I have always prided myself in brushing twice a day and flossing at least a few times a month. However, it wasn't until I met her, that we were able to take my oral hygiene to the next level,” said Previte. Previte said he had moderate to severe gum disease. It was meeting his mother-in-law through his wife that motivated him to get his gum disease under control. He now maintains an excellent oral health regimen, which includes use of the WaterPik. We call that walking the talk!

When asked about his observations of the health habits of his colleagues, Previte said that “As medical professionals we tend to focus on taking care of others’ health while neglecting our own. We have very stressful jobs with often with crazy hours. We usually have poor sleep patterns and diets as well. Therefore, it is important to keep our health in mind always. “

Dr. Lisa Elias

Dr. Lisa Elias of Ohio was a top-five finisher in our Oral-Systemic Health Champion contest, and we asked her to shed some light on what keeps her so healthy.

Elias said that she tries to be as natural as possible when it comes to her dieting. She explains, “My diet consists of no processed foods and as little sugar, honey, and fruit as possible. Just berries in the summer. Organic fowl and wild caught fish, organic vegetables, healthy fats like avocados, olives, olive oil. Xylitol if I really want to sweeten tea or coffee and have recently discovered A2 organic heavy cream to use occasionally in my coffee, as well. I have been experimenting with the ketogenic type diet. It’s not perfect, but I am constantly trying to improve and learn.

When asked about the health habits of her fellow dental professionals, Dr. Lisa Elias said felt that most hygienists have good oral health; however, she has concerns about their diet. “Unfortunately, most of them have the same poor diets as most Americans. The low fat/high carbohydrate mantra has been repeated so much over the years, it will be hard to undo it and, I feel, will take many years to reverse. Lunch breaks at my office are eye opening. The same people who should know better, and hear my discussions about diet with patients, keep on doing what they have been,” said Elias.

Dr. Lauren Roper

Dr. Lauren Roper of Grand Junction, Colorado, also finished in the top five.

When it comes to diet, Roper said she has removed all meat and most dairy from her diet. Dr. Roper said that she regularly encourages her dental team at her to be active and healthy.

“My team is very active. My hygienist and front desk coordinator are both competitive runners. My assistants are both exercise enthusiasts as well. I definitely try to encourage this with them. Recently, we have started running together on our lunch breaks. There are days when I do not go with them because I feel the urge to catch up on things in the office, but they will go out nonetheless. We have a sign that we place on the door that says, "22 minutes of exercise a day will help keep you healthy. We'll be right back," said Roper.

Another habit that has helped her stay healthy is her detailed oral health protocol. Roper’s is a hybrid blend of Ellie Phillips' protocol and a little bit of Jim Hyland's. “I rinse with Closys first, use a Dr. Tung's tongue scraper next, then use a Soft-Pick with Enamelon on it. I then brush with a Sonicare, and floss after that because I have spaces where I cannot get the Soft-Picks to fit. I have a shot glass that I put Listerine in to soak my tongue scraper and toothbrush head for a couple minutes before rinsing and setting inside a cabinet to dry. I have two toothbrush heads: one for the morning and one for night, so that they have time to dry thoroughly. I will also use Closys throughout the day if I think of it. I've also made an effort this past year to add anti-inflammatory spices and supplements to my diet and routine, especially turmeric and cinnamon,” said Roper.

Health Champions Weigh in on 2018’s Health Challenges

All the participants were asked about what the biggest challenge the oral systemic community will face in 2018.

Roper said: “Changing the way that patients view our profession. If we are going become ‘physicians of the mouth,’ we need to own it and all of the hard work that comes along with that level of respect we are asking from our patients.”

Elias said: “The oral systemic community will continue to battle with many self-inflicted diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, inactivity, and neglectful oral care in 2018 and beyond. It will be a challenge, but we are uniquely situated at the forefront to help educate our patients and our colleagues to spread the message and help initiate positive change”

Previte said: “Let’s keep our curiosity for knowledge and ignite our passion for making others healthy.”

Next month, we’ll wrap up our takeaways from the Oral Systemic Health Champion contest with an alarming trend we saw in the data. Stay tuned!