Let’s discuss tooth stains, gallstones and restless legs

July 17, 2019

Q.  What makes our teeth become yellow?

The most common reasons for yellow teeth are:

• Aging. As we age, we accumulate surface stains. Also, the insides of our teeth yellow and can be seen through the outer enamel as it gradually becomes thinner over time.
• Tobacco that is smoked or chewed.
• Beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine and dark-colored soda.
• Foods such as blueberries, tomato sauce, curry and soy sauce.

You can also have stains within a tooth. These can be caused by too much fluoride or certain antibiotics during tooth development. These stains are harder to treat than surface stains.

Whitening processes are effective for treating stained teeth. Based on clinical studies, 96 percent of patients with common stains experience some lightening effect. But, be forewarned that whitening has to be repeated periodically if you want to maintain a sparkling smile. Whiteness can start to fade in a month. 

Q.  Who is at risk for getting gallstones?

People over age 60 are more likely to develop gallstones than younger people. Women between 20 and 60 years of age are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men. Other factors include obesity, excess estrogen, cholesterol-lowering drugs, diabetes, rapid weight loss, and fasting.

Native Americans have an inclination for this malady; they have the highest rate of gallstones in the United States. 

The gallbladder is a blue-green organ about three inches long on the underside of the liver. The liver produces bile in a dilute form, which is then stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. The bile is then secreted from the gallbladder into the small intestine where it aids digestion. 

You can live without a gallbladder. After it is removed, bile flows out of the liver through ducts into the small intestine. However, because the bile isn't stored in the gallbladder, it flows into the small intestine more frequently.

Gallstones are usually treated by removing the gallbladder. This surgery is called a “cholecystectomy.” In traditional surgery, the gallbladder is removed through an abdominal incision up to eight inches long. However, the most common method today employs a laparoscope, a thin tube with a scope on the end of it.

Q. How common is it to have restless legs?

Restless Legs Syndrome affects about one in 10 adults in North America and Europe. RLS is found in both men and women but can begin in children. The percentage of people with RLS increases with age, and seniors experience symptoms longer and more frequently. 

Many researchers believe that RLS is under-reported. Victims of RLS are often diagnosed as suffering from insomnia, depression or a disorder of the nerves, muscles or skeleton.

RLS is a neurologic movement disorder. It produces uncomfortable sensations that cause an irresistible urge to move the legs. RLS symptoms can be relieved temporarily by movement. Symptoms occur during inactivity and strike most frequently during the evening. These attacks lead to sleep problems.

RLS may be inherited. About half of patients have a family history of RLS. Also, there is a lower incidence of RLS in Asia than there is in North America and Europe.

There are drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat RLS. 

It is possible to combat the symptoms in other ways. Walking, massage, stretching, hot or cold baths, vibration, acupressure, meditation and yoga can help.

Caffeine and alcohol can worsen RLS symptoms.

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