Rx for Readers: Mind the gap

What can I do about the growing space between my teeth?

Madonna smiling 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Madonna smiling 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I am a 28-year-old woman. I have noticed in the last few years that the two upper teeth in the front of my mouth have developed a growing gap between them. I never had such a problem before. What causes this, and – at my age – do I have to go to the orthodontist, or can it be fixed more conservatively?
D.T., Jerusalem Associate Prof. Stella Chaushu, chairman of the orthodontics department of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, replies:
Gaps don’t open spontaneously between the front teeth unless there is some kind of pathology. A gap can be created after extractions of posterior teeth (teeth set at the back of the jaws) and migration of the front teeth. If no teeth were lost, a growing gap between may be caused by loss of bony support of the upper teeth associated with periodontal (gum) disease. These teeth become weaker and may migrate, due to the pressure caused during function by the tongue and the occlusion with the teeth from the opposite arch.
I definitely recommend that you consult with a specialist in orthodontics, preferably one with experience in treating adult patients. You should ask for a clinical and radiographic survey.
I always tell my 17-year-old son, who will go into the army next year, not to eat late at night, but he ignores me. I don’t have any scientific data to back it up, but it seems to me that when the body “goes to sleep,” it shouldn’t have to digest heavy food, and the body’s biological clock needs to rest. Is there any harm in eating heavy meals late, or does it not make any difference to the body?
C.K., Ramat Gan Dr. Olga Raz, director of the nutrition and dietetics department at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, answers:
It is true that people’s biological clocks are usually not suited for eating at night, unlike rats, which are active at night. But there is a lot of difference among people and their biological clocks. People who work night shifts are forced to change their biological clocks, often against their biological needs.
First of all, to give advice to a 17-year-old a million times does not help, and it will only fruitlessly annoy the two of you. So the first thing you have to do is to stop giving him your opinion – not only on this, but in general. Secondly, what is a heavy meal? It is not clear to me what he eats late at night.
Thirdly, in principle one may eat up to an hour before going to sleep, especially if he goes to bed late. A regular person can’t manage to go without food for many hours when awake. All this depends on what your son eats late at night. A 400-gram steak with French fries is “heavy.” A sandwich from two slices of bread and filling is not a “heavy meal.”
My daughter is going to have a baby in two months. A friend of hers advised that to help make delivery easier, during the last few weeks of her pregnancy she should make a “tea” out of raspberry leaves, which can be purchased in natural food stores, and drink it twice daily. I don’t know what could be found in such leaves to promote an easier delivery, but her friends who tried it insist it works. Is there any benefit from this tea?
K.V., Rehovot Dr. Opher Caspi, an internal medicine specialist and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, answers:
Tea made from the leaves of raspberry has been used for centuries as a folk medicine to treat wounds, diarrhea and colic pain, and as a uterine relaxant. It is recommended by some midwives in the belief that it shortens labor and makes labor “easier.” However, a recent analysis of 12 original medical publications with focus on safety or efficacy of raspberry leaves tea during pregnancy and labor found no convincing evidence for its folk use.
Dr. Menachem Oberbaum, director of the Center for Integrative Complementary Medicine at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, adds: Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is one of the plant medications often used in pregnancy.
In the conventional literature, only limited documentation exists regarding safety or efficacy during pregnancy, pharmacology and in vitro tests explaining mode of action or constituents. A part of it is 50 years old or older! The latest animal study (using rats) suggested the possibility of an increased risk for the unborn child, a fact which raises concerns about the safety of this herbal preparation for use during pregnancy. Due to the lack of evidence for safety and efficacy, recommendations to use raspberry leaves during pregnancy are questionable.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.