Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
January 2, 2018
Here is an account that unfolds like the best science fiction tale ever written. It’s the relationship between bacteria and mitochondria, and eventually gum disease. This relationship forms a critical cycle.
A long, long time ago – about 4 billion years ago – life began on earth as a single-celled organism with no nucleus.  Fast forward 2 billion years.
About 2 billion years ago, bacteria were among the first living organisms. Some of these single-celled bacteria fed on organic compounds to create energy. These bacteria created carbon dioxide and hydrogen as waste products. Other single-celled organisms in existence at the same time fed only on carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Then, an extraordinary and life-changing event occurred.
A few of the bacteria producing energy from organic compounds successfully entered some of these single-celled organisms, which could not create their own energy from organic compounds. Eventually, these bacteria set up shop in their host cells. The invading bacterial cells created energy for their single-celled host organisms. Now the host cells, with a self-contained energy source from the resident bacteria, could evolve into multi-celled and more-complex entities. The gradual development of these structures eventually led to the makeup of our human cells, each with a self-contained energy-production machine. The origin of this energy-production machine was ancient bacteria. These organelles are called mitochondria.
Every cell in our body, with the exception of red blood cells, has mitochondria to create the energy to keep it alive. The mitochondria are embedded within the cytoplasm of our 10 trillion human cells. Some individual cells have only a few mitochondria; our most active cells (like heart muscle) may contain as many as 2,400 mitochondria per cell. If these bacteria-like structures in our body’s cells did not function properly, we would get sick – very sick – and eventually would die.
Functions of Mitochondria
The mitochondria primarily are the batteries of the cell. If the batteries fail, the cell ultimately dies. However, energy production is not the only purpose of our mitochondria.  Mitochondria also produce heat as necessary, assist in calcium signaling within the host cell and throughout the body, and will induce cell death (apoptosis) when its host cell is damaged beyond repair. In addition, mitochondria regulate insulin in the cell, synthesize cholesterol and other steroids, and participate in other functions required by specialized cells. Another critical function of mitochondria is to interact intimately with other organelles of the cell, especially peroxisomes, to create cellular homeostasis. 
As a waste product, mitochondria produce free radicals, which must be neutralized. If the mitochondria are damaged beyond repair, the cell would not be able to function as it was designed. For example, a liver cell would not be able to function as a healthy liver cell; a brain cell would not be able to function as a healthy brain cell; a gum tissue cell would not be able to function as a healthy gum tissue cell. In some situations, the cell might begin to replicate out-of-control and become cancerous.
Gum Disease & Mitochondria
When everything is working correctly, the mitochondria are healthy and functioning at the top of their game. Problems develop when our mitochondria are compromised. Gum disease is one result of dysfunction in the mitochondria within gum tissue cells. 
So, it appears that healthy mitochondria are critical for our oral health, for our cells’ health, and for our existence. Healthy mitochondria are supported by nutrient-dense foods, efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and reduction of stress. If mitochondria are not firing on all cylinders, disease will occur. In the past, I wrote about exercise and how it benefits healthy mitochondria. 
Also, the gut microbiome is important for the health of mitochondria. The beneficial bacteria in the gut will produce butyrate, other short chain fatty acids, and lactate from fiber as well as urolithin-A from tannins in food. These metabolites from beneficial bacteria feed healthy mitochondria, support the cells that line the colon, and actually increase diversity in healthy gut bacteria. Since ancient bacteria were the precursors of our modern-day mitochondria, the needs of the mitochondria in our cells are similar to the needs of healthy gut bacteria. There is actually “cross communication” between our gut microbiome and our mitochondria.
Another important nutrient in all of this is vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is produced by healthy gut bacteria. This vitamin is also available in some fermented foods, organ meats, egg yolks, and grass-fed dairy. Vitamin K2 appears to assist mitochondria by increasing their capacity to create energy.
So, what will cause mitochondria to malfunction? Mitochondria can become damaged and dysfunctional when necessary nutrients are not available from the gut, when the energy created by mitochondria is less than the free radicals they produce, and when mitochondria are unable to repair themselves or increase their numbers in their host cell. Also, specific environmental elements and medications can be toxic to mitochondria. These include xenoestrogens (estrogen imitators) in the environment, acetaminophen (Tylenol), statins (anti-cholesterol drugs), glyphosate (Roundup), and heavy metals like lead, mercury, and aluminum.
Kiran Krishnan, the microbiologist and Chief Science Officer of Microbiome Labs, created a webinar about the interplay between healthy gut bacteria, strong mitochondria, and vitamin K2. 
Based on the research I have uncovered and the information Kiran Krishnan provided and documented in his webinar, I want to assist my patients who have gum disease. Supporting healthy mitochondria must be considered with gum treatment. Current research suggests that supporting the mitochondria’s ability to maintain homeostasis in the cell might be lifesaving.  To that end, clinical treatment of active gum disease along with supplements, which support healthy mitochondria, could be an ideal protocol to treat periodontal disease.
I first treat active gum disease by removing local irritants from under the gum tissues and by teaching effective oral hygiene. When advanced gum disease has created jawbone damage, I use the LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) Protocol  to assist the body in regenerating new bone around damaged teeth. ,
In addition, I encourage my patients to eat nutrient-dense foods and remove the foods that damage the gut. I’ve written about nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods and a primal lifestyle to support overall health.  I even discussed this as it applied to my personal life’s challenges. 
Furthermore, I recommend three supplements to support healthy mitochondria – a probiotic called MegasporeBiotic , a vitamin K2 supplement called MegaQuinone K2-7 , and a mixture of prebiotic fibers to feed the healthy gut microbiome called PaleoFiber .
Probiotic, Vitamin K2, & Prebiotic*
MegasporeBiotic is a unique probiotic that can survive the stomach acidity and set up residence in the intestines. It will increase the population of healthy bacteria in the gut and increase the bacteria’s production of butyrate, urolithin-A, and lactate. This probiotic is supplied by Microbiome Labs.
MegaQuinone K2-7 is a blend of vitamin K2 and several nutrients required by vitamin K2 to enhance the efficiency of the mitochondria. This K2 supplement also is supplied by Microbiome Labs. (Patients taking certain blood thinners may not be able to take this product.)
PaleoFiber is a combination of fibers derived from fruits, vegetables, roots, seeds, and tree extracts to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This product is supplied by Designs for Health.
- Take two capsules of MegasporeBiotic once a day about 10-20 minutes after a meal so that it can begin providing benefits in the upper intestinal tract. However, it might be necessary to take a smaller dose of the probiotic for a few days and work up to the ideal dose as your body gets used to the probiotic.
- Take one capsule of MegaQuinone K2-7 with your first meal of the day that contains fat and then another capsule with your last meal of the day that contains fat.
- Take 2-3 teaspoons of PaleoFiber per day with water or any liquid. You could take it at any time, and you could take more if necessary.
My recommendation is to take these for at least 60 days. Then, determine the health of the gum tissues. It may or may not be necessary to continue to take these supplements in the future. Some people may want to take them on a regular basis for overall health and quality of life.
* NOTE: I DO NOT HAVE ANY AFFILIATION WITH MICROBIOME LABS OR DESIGNS FOR HEALTH, AND I DO NOT RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION FROM THEM. I DO PURCHASE THE PRODUCTS I MENTIONED HERE FOR PERSONAL AND PATIENT USE.