Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
May 23, 2016
In my last article, I wrote how I believe dentistry is getting it wrong. I challenged my profession and dental colleagues to educate themselves about the biological causes of dental disease. I also challenged them to implement an education program for their patients about biological prevention. Here is my summary of how to implement a biological prevention program in the dental office. I call my program, Beat the Beast of Dental Disease.
Beat the Beast of Dental Disease
5 Steps for a Biological Prevention Program in the Dental Office
- Teach the important points of human evolution and its effect on dental health
Throughout human evolution, our species rarely experienced gum disease or tooth decay. We know this from our primal ancestors’ skeletal remains, which generally have demonstrated healthy teeth and healthy jawbones. Nutrient-dense foods (most of which have been anti-inflammatory) have been the mainstay of almost all diets of primitive societies. There are primal societies today who still consume these types of foods and who rarely have tooth decay or gum disease.
- Explain how the mouth fell out-of-balance
As civilized societies began eating processed grains and sugars, dental disease began to rise. After processed foods replaced farm-fresh foods, additional chemicals were added to these foods, which affected the health of the mouth as well as the rest of the body. These foods and chemicals frequently caused good bacteria in the gut to be overwhelmed by harmful bacteria. These bad bacteria harmed the gut lining and the immune system. These changes led to chronic inflammation travelling throughout the entire body. Ultimately, the healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth changed. As bad bacteria grew to unhealthy levels in the mouth, tooth decay and gum disease proliferated. A vicious cycle began between (1) inflammation and infection in the mouth and (2) inflammation and infection in the gut and throughout the body. Our body was out-of-balance.
- Describe what the mouth needs to stay in balance
The mouth requires the proper nutrients to stay healthy and in balance naturally. This includes eating various animal products that are pastured and wild caught as well as many varieties of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Ideally, foods should be raised and grown organically. All the natural macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) as well as vitamins and minerals that will maintain strong and healthy teeth are provided in these foods.
- Identify what is damaging the body’s ability to maintain a healthy mouth
Foods that disrupt the body’s ability to function as it was designed to function must be eliminated from the diet. All processed foods have various damaging effects on the cells of the body. Specific foods like processed grains, sugars, artificial sweeteners, man-made fats, and sodas of any type are specifically harmful. These foods also do not provide the critical nutrients necessary for cellular health. Chemicals and other toxic substances that are incorporated in processed foods further damage the body and disturb the delicate balance.
- Demonstrate to each patient the specific, efficient, effective, and simple methods to mechanically keep the mouth in balance
This includes brushing at the gum line, cleaning between the teeth, and scraping the top surface of the tongue. I have written about this in detail HERE.
My 5-step program could be promoted through social media and marketing efforts used by the dental office. All members of the dental team would need to be familiar with these concepts and must be on board with the science and benefits. Flyers and posters (featuring colorful and appealing graphics) could be placed in the reception room further educating patients about the program. Pamphlets summarizing the major points of the program could be produced and provided to interested patients. One-on-one demonstration of the methods to mechanically and appropriately clean the mouth should be part of every dental hygiene cleaning appointment. For patients who are motivated to make a change, a nutrition appointment customized for the patient could go into more detail of the good foods that need to be eaten and the harmful foods that need to be eliminated from his or her diet.