Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
February 14, 2017
I was asked to speak to a group of my colleagues several days ago. They wanted to hear my thoughts on nutrition and how I treat gum disease. They wanted it to be a quick “lunch talk” because everyone had time constraints. So, I titled my “10-minute talk”, Born To Be Healthy. Here’s a summary of how it unfolded:
Born to be healthy
We were born to be healthy. We were not born to have our teeth rot, or to have bone melt away from the roots of our teeth, or to require fluoride to save our teeth. In fact, we were born to be healthy.
If we take a broad overview, we find that our primal ancestors were born to be healthy. Based on skeletal remains, we know that primal humans rarely had chronic diseases, tooth decay, or gum disease. Today, primitive societies living in remote areas of the world also rarely have chronic diseases, tooth decay, or gum disease. Then, why do we, as civilized people, have rampant chronic diseases that debilitate us? Why does more than 90% of the US population suffer with tooth decay as well as gum disease? What went wrong?
A fire within us
I believe there is a fire within us. We try to put it out with prescription medications that treat the manifestations of disease. We try to replenish our nutritional deficiencies with manmade supplements or processed chemicals. To treat infections in our mouth, we use antimicrobial mouthwashes that kill not only some bad bacteria but also a whole lot of good bacteria. And, we place fluoride barriers on our teeth to prevent decay, believing that it makes our teeth stronger.
While doing these things, we continue to stoke the fire within us. We eat innutritious and harmful foods that create problems in our gut, in our immune system, and in our mouth. Many of our lifestyles don’t support a healthy body, and we allow ourselves to be exposed to toxic substances. Most of us don’t sleep well. When it comes to exercise, most of us don’t. If we do exercise, many of our routines are excessive and cause damage to our body.
So, on one hand we are trying to put out the fire within us, but on the other hand we are reinforcing the breakdown of our body.
Answers to dilemma
In my opinion, the answers to this dilemma lie in our nutrition and lifestyle.
To heal and repair our bodies, and to heal and repair our mouths, we need to eat nutrient-dense foods. We need to get a handle on how we deal with stress. Our sleep patterns need to be restorative, and our exercise needs to be efficient – not excessive or nonexistent. We need to change our immediate environment so that it is not toxic to our body.
I incorporate these ideas with my treatment for gum disease. First, I examine my patients to determine what is going on. I treat the acute problems immediately and get their mouth comfortable. Next, I discuss with my patient whatever reparative treatment is necessary going forward. In my opinion, it is critical for my patients to understand how they can prevent their disease from returning. I teach them oral hygiene methods that they can do everyday. I also teach them the importance of nutrient-dense foods, restorative sleep, efficient exercise, and stress reduction from all sources. All these elements will not only make their mouths healthier but also improve their overall health.
Yes, we were born to be healthy. But, we were not born to abuse our bodies. Most disease comes from putting bad things into our body and not providing the essentials that our body requires.