Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
May 6, 2019
Dentists help repair or remove broken, damaged, and diseased teeth. Dentists also help replace missing teeth, correct bite and airway problems, and create beautiful smiles. And dentists help treat the results of many acute and chronic infections in the mouth. Unfortunately, dentistry fails the public in several other critical areas.
Here is my take on 3 Failures in Dentistry:
- Not informing patients of potentially toxic elements that are used in dental treatment and their potential consequences in the body.
- Not educating patients adequately and in-depth about the obscure and underlying causes of dental diseases.
- Not emphasizing the causal relationships between the gut, the mouth, and the overall health of patients.
I know I will get quite a bit of blowback from my comments in this blog. My intention is to bring to the forefront the weaknesses of my profession so that dental professionals and dental educators can improve the delivery of oral healthcare, which ultimately affects overall health. Also, my intention is to help the public understand the failures I’ve stated and ask intelligent questions to their healthcare professionals.
If dentists were successfully treating and preventing dental diseases, then the prevalence of periodontal disease and tooth decay should be very low. However, dental diseases are at epidemic levels.
Prevalence of Periodontal Disease Today
In 2010, a published paper revealed that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their results in the Journal of Dental Research. The report was recently updated in 2015 in the Journal of Periodontology. It showed the prevalence of periodontitis was estimated to be 47.2% for American adults (approximately 64.7 million people). For adults 65 years old and older, the prevalence jumped to 70.1%. These findings were the result of the most comprehensive periodontal evaluation performed ever in the US.
Prevalence of Tooth Decay Today
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported from its most recent data approximately 91% of U.S. adults aged 20–64 had dental caries in permanent teeth. The prevalence increases to 93% for those above 65 years old.
The World Health Organization has stated that dental decay is one of the most infectious, non-communicable diseases globally.
Addressing the 3 Failures
1: Understand potential toxicities
Many dental materials, medicaments, and procedures are used routinely in the dental office. And many of them have been shown to be potentially toxic to human cells. Of course, toxicity usually depends on the dose and the frequency of exposure. But if a toxic element is in the mouth 24/7, then its presence could be potentially harmful.
As you may know, I am treating my aggressive form of multiple myeloma through various unconventional protocols. I believe my bone marrow cancer was directly related to my excessive exposure to various toxic elements in dentistry – especially my continued exposure to mercury and ionizing dental radiation while in dental school and during my early years in practice. Yet, there is no way I can prove this.
I’ve listed a few of the substances and procedures that are frequently used in the dental office that might be toxic for some patients and the dental team. I also have provided links to peer-reviewed articles that go into detail about their toxicities:
- Mercury amalgams
- BPA in some composite materials
- Fluoride products
- Nitrous oxide
- Antimicrobial mouthwashes
- Peroxide at-home bleaching
- Ionizing dental radiation
2: Learn about obscure causes of dental diseases
Three human studies clearly show that nutrition is the critical element to a healthy mouth – Baumgartner (2009), Woelber (2016), Woelber (2019). I have described these results many times. Each of these studies determined that removing dental plaque by brushing and flossing was not critical to improve oral health as long as diet was corrected. Specifically, the researchers demonstrated that changing from a diet abundant in high-processed-carbohydrate and inflammatory foods to a diet excluding high-processed-carbohydrate and inflammatory foods will decrease signs of gum disease.
In a paper published in the Journal of Dental Research in 2015, Aubrey Sheiham summarized many peer-reviewed research articles, which clearly showed that free-sugars were required to cause tooth decay. And the removal of free-sugars from the diet greatly reduced or eliminated tooth decay.
3: Study the causal relationships within the body
Detrimental lifestyle, toxic elements in the environment, toxic substances accumulating in the body, and inflammatory foods are major factors that can damage the gut and create unhealthy gut bacteria (gut dysbiosis). Leakage from a damaged gut into the bloodstream and into the lymph fluid can cause systemic chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system. Both systemic chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system can cause havoc in other body tissues including the mouth.
In the mouth, these may cause an overgrowth of pathological bacteria. Unhealthy food choices will continue to feed the pathological bacteria. As you know, unhealthy bacteria will cause periodontal disease and tooth decay. Dental diseases potentially could affect all other areas in the body causing a vicious back-and-forth cycle between the mouth, the gut, and other tissues of the body.
The 3 failures in dentistry should be addressed and corrected. Dentists need to (1) inform patients about potential toxicity from dental procedures and only use the most biocompatible materials, (2) learn about the obscure causes of dental diseases, and (3) become knowledgeable about causal relationships within the body.