Advice Given to Me

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
February 5, 2018 [printfriendly]




Advice can be found in the most unusual places.


I have been given advice by an astute dental scholar. He encouraged me to understand the science of evidence. There is only one problem. He based his science on the myopic view that the mouth is an island unto itself with little influence from anywhere else in the body. He is a throwback to the times when the Catholic Church ruled that the Earth was the center of the universe. Anyone who doubted that science could be put to death. As a matter of fact, in 1616, Galileo was accused of being a heretic, a person who opposed Church teachings. Fortunately, Galileo was acquitted of the charges.


So, what did this informed dentist have to say about evidence? He said that there is science that antimicrobial mouthwashes are safe and effective. Therefore, ‘nuff said! My concern is that there is better evidence that suggests that daily use of antimicrobial mouthwashes may damage the DNA of cells[1],[2]. In addition, daily use of these chemical mouthwashes might destroy some of the bacteria in the mouth that are critical for the conversion of salivary nitrates eventually into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is necessary for many bodily functions including blood pressure control, cardiovascular health, and even gum tissue health.[3]


To educate me further, this dental visionary stated that there was little evidence that diet had anything to do with caries and periodontal disease. The cause of dental diseases was improper brushing and flossing. Therefore, I guess I need to ignore these two human studies:


Study 1[4]

In this controlled experiment, ten individuals were not able to brush or floss for 30 days. For the duration of this experiment, their diet consisted of primal foods common to their area in Switzerland about 5,700 years ago. No processed foods were available. These participants had to gather and forage for the majority of their food. At the beginning and at the end of the study, pocket depths and bleeding-on-probing around the teeth were measured, and cultures of bacteria were taken from the plaque and from the tongue.

At the end of the study, there were a significant decrease in bleeding-on-probing and a significant decrease in pocket depths. Amounts of dental plaque increased greatly, but virulent bacteria did not increase in the plaque or on the tongue. Dental plaque and other oral microbes were in a state of homeostasis at the end of the four-week experiment.

Study 2[5]

In this recent study, fifteen people were selected. Only those who had signs of gum disease and were eating a diet heavily based on processed carbohydrates were selected. Ten individuals made up the experimental group, and five individuals made up the control group.

The experimental group had to change their diet. Their new diet consisted of foods low in processed carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant in vitamins C and D, antioxidants and fiber. The control group did not change their eating habits.

As far as oral hygiene was concerned, all fifteen participants were instructed not to clean between their teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. However, they did not have to change the way they brushed their teeth with a normal toothbrush.

The study began after each group had two weeks to acclimate to these changes I mentioned above. Then, the four-week study began. The signs of gum disease (bleeding-on-probing, pocket depths, degree of gingival inflammation) in all participants of this scientific project were recorded at the start of the four-week study and at the end.

At the conclusion of the trial, all disease parameters decreased significantly in the experimental group by approximately 50% from the starting point. In contrast, all inflammatory markers increased from the starting point in the control group.


Finally, this dental professional informed me that the dental profession is more than effective in treating dysbiosis, which is the cause of poor oral health. I totally agree that dysbiosis is the cause of poor oral health. But, dysbiosis begins in the gut and progresses to all parts of the body – including the mouth.[6],[7],[8],[9] Dysbiosis in the gut must be treated in conjunction with treatment of dysbiosis in the mouth. Just treating the mouth without addressing what is going on in the gut will not solve the overall problem. The mouth is not an island unto itself.


I always appreciate advice when given. Thanks for setting me straight!



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  1. Fascinating article! I have had persistent hypertension for several years, despite losing over 125 lbs on a low-carb (mostly paleo) diet. Lately, I have doubled down on the diet due to some recent health issues, in response to the discovery that I am severely insulin-resistant.

    I have noticed that my gum problems have lessened, but my BP remains high. Plus, my BP meds include a known obesogenic beta blocker, which is making my latest efforts at losing more weight difficult. Although I have lost over 125 lbs, I still have more than 50 lbs to go before I get to my desired weight.

    I have been avoiding fluoride by using a non-Fluoride toothpaste, and a non-fluoride mouthwash. I think I will omit using the mouthwash for the next several weeks to see if that makes a difference. Unfortunately, even if there is an observed hypertension reduction, it will require some additional testing to confirm that the mouthwash was a problem. I may also need to quit using the toothpaste (maybe baking soda?), and I may have to re-introduce them in order to get confirmation.

    Since I have a lot of bridgework (made necessary because of my decades of sugar-laden crap diet), I am reluctant to stop flossing, interdental brushing, and regular brushing, in order to keep the large gaps in my teeth clear of (rotting) food.

  2. It’s astonishing to me how high quality older science is ignored by new generations even as newer studies confirm and extend it, Dr. Al!

    The connectedness of the body and all its parts was thoroughly demonstrated by the Delta Rhythm Boys back in the 1940’s.

    Of course, due to the race difficulties of the time, they were forced to present their thesis in song form rather than submit a paper to JAMA. But I think it loses nothing in the translation. All parts of the body are a connected whole, not isolated parts.

    Dem Bones – The Delta Rhythm Boys

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