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Does Periodontal Disease Cause Systemic Disease?

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist
April 22, 2019

 

 

 

Periodontal Disease and Systemic Disease 

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Yes, but… How’s that for an answer that keeps you hanging? Let me explain.

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Yes – Once periodontal disease is established in the mouth, its pathological byproducts can seep into the bloodstream, lymph fluid, and bone structures to cause spread of infection and inflammation to all areas of the body. In this way, periodontal disease can cause systemic disease.

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But… – Although periodontal disease is a focus of infection around the teeth, it has its origin in an area that is remote from the mouth. The gut is the seed to the manifestation of most systemic chronic diseases, which periodontal disease is just one of many.

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Recently Published Article

In February 2019, a medical research article was published in Biomedical Journal[1] titled, “Association between periodontal pathogens and systemic disease”. The authors describe the correlation between periodontal disease and various chronic diseases and outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer, diabetes and insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory tract infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The authors go on to state that there are conflicting studies, which try to prove causal relationships. However, there is significant research to show a strong correlation.

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Cause of Periodontal Disease

Dental plaque is healthy until it’s not healthy.[2] Periodontal disease develops from unhealthy dental plaque. Unhealthy plaque results when healthy plaque is transformed into unhealthy dental plaque because of an underlying compromised immune system and unhealthy food choices. The compromised immune system has its roots in unhealthy changes in the gut. [3],[4]

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Interestingly, there are three human studies that showed a healthy diet alone can improve the health of the mouth. These studies also determined that removing dental plaque by brushing and flossing was not critical to improve oral health as long as diet was corrected. Specifically, the investigators 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.[5],[6],[7]

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My Theory of Systemic Chronic Disease

My research suggests that periodontal disease is not the seed of all systemic disease. I believe that periodontal disease is just one of many chronic diseases on the continuum of the spread of systemic disease that starts in the gut. Since the mouth is visible and easy to examine, the mouth may be the first clinical area where disease is diagnosed. But the ultimate starting point is in the gut before becoming visible in the mouth and other areas of the body.

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Once systemic disease spreads, a vicious cycle begins because all tissues affect all other tissues in the human body. Tissues use “crosstalk” to communicate with other tissues.[8],[9],[10]

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My theory starts in the gut. Unhealthy changes in the gut microbiome are called gut dysbiosis.

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The gut microbiome, the intestinal mucus layer, and the epithelial lining of the gut become damaged from potentially many different influences. Detrimental lifestyle, toxic elements in the environment, and inflammatory foods are major contributors that can damage the gut and create gut dysbiosis. Leakage from a damaged gut into the bloodstream and into the lymph fluid can cause systemic chronic inflammation and a break down in the body’s ability to fight infection. Both will affect all other tissues in the body.

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I wrote an article where I described my theory of how chronic disease is created in the body. I cite over 30 peer-reviewed medical articles to support my views. My paper, Big Bang Theory of Chronic Disease, was published in-part in 2018 in Well Being Journal, Volume 27, #2. If you would like the PDF of this article, email your request to: Dr.Danenberg@iCloud.com.

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The Mouth

In the mouth, a compromised immune system caused by gut dysbiosis can allow the overgrowth of pathological bacteria. Unhealthy changes in dental plaque and unhealthy food choices will initiate periodontal disease. Then, periodontal disease, as a unique site of infection in the mouth, will begin to spread, causing additional systemic chronic inflammation and chronic diseases.

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To treat periodontal disease and to avoid chronic disease, active infection in the mouth must be treated efficiently. In addition, irritating and toxic substances must be removed from the mouth and teeth. However, gut dysbiosis must be treated simultaneously. Just treating either the damaged gut or active periodontal disease will be insufficient.

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[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2319417018302634?via%3Dihub

[2] https://drdanenberg.com/dental-plaque-is-healthy-until-its-not/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5892391/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5937375/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19405829

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4962497/pdf/12903_2016_Article_257.pdf

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1111%2Fjcpe.13094

[8] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cea.12723

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1016%2Fj.cyto.2017.01.016

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266996/

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Mark Simons

    Interesting! I had a dentist appointment a while back after I had been better about my diet consistently, including fasting. The hygienist made a comment on how I was doing great at flossing. I had not been flossing!

    Reply

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