Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
November 2, 2015 [printfriendly]
Over the course of 2.5 million years, our species evolved into a perfect machine. Dealing with a host of environments and demands, our genetic structure developed the abilities to become the master control center of our well-being. That was the way it was meant to be. But about 10,000 years ago, a train started coming down the tracks, and modern man was not aware of its approach.
The train was in the form of lifestyle changes that would insidiously affect our body’s ability to function as it was designed to function.
Beginning 10,000 years ago or so, our species became progressively at odds with our genetic code. In many aspects we have become an unhealthy people. In many aspects, we have allowed changes to occur in our modern lifestyles that have brought us to a crossroads. Either we will continue on the destructive path affecting our health and well-being, or we will take steps moving forward to repair our body.
Fortunately, for the most part, we have control over our future. You may be surprised that poor lifestyle choices accumulate over time to cause chronic inflammation, which is a major factor in many of today’s chronic diseases. These diseases lead to a decrease in quality of life and a decrease in longevity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 50% of the US population (approximately 117 million people in 2012) had some form of chronic disease. (Here) Our primal ancestors hardly ever had, and today’s traditional societies hardly ever have, chronic diseases.
Interestingly, almost everything begins with our mouths. Certainly, our nourishment begins with our mouths. And, our mouths have become unhealthy – more unhealthy than ever before in our species’ 2.5 million-year journey. I start my story with the mouth. From there, the whole body becomes its playground.
A study published in 2010 demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis, which is infection and bleeding of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth. (Here)
Another study published in 2015 (discussing data from 2009-2012) showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the United States had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans), and an astounding 70.1% of those over the age of 65 had this disease. (Here)
Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body.
So, if you have gum disease, you are not alone.
Obviously, our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes and did not see a dentist every 6 months, but they had relatively healthy mouths. They hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. Why?
Today, many people see a dentist every 6 months and also brush and floss daily, but some still have gum disease. How could that be?
What we have learned to believe may not be so. Josh Billings (the 19th Century humorist) put it so clearly: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”
Your mouth health and your overall health are related to the nourishment you give yourself and the lifestyle you lead. My original question was, “If you knew a train were coming, would you get off the tracks?” If your modern lifestyle could be causing severe health damage going forward, would you change your ways to get and stay healthy? The steps to repair your body are not complicated. I have discussed these steps in previous blogs, and I will continue to emphasize my philosophy in future blogs.