Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
June 18, 2018
Leaky gut, periodontal disease, and all that jazz (meaning all those bacteria) play an important role in chronic disease. The tube that courses through the body (called the digestive tract, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or the alimentary canal) is the initial setting for many chronic diseases that could manifest over time.
The GI tract starts with your lips and mouth and finally ends at the anus. Interestingly, all of the tissues that line this tube are affected in similar ways. What happens in the small and large intestines will affect the mouth, and what damages the mouth will affect the tissues of the small and large intestines.
The living inhabitants on the surface of the digestive tract are bacteria and other microbes that outnumber the quantity of human cells. These microbes are critical for human survival and affect human metabolism, nutrition, physiology, and immune function. When the microbiome is disturbed and when unhealthy microbes take control, then all Hell could break loose resulting in various chronic diseases.
One portal of entry for toxic elements to move into the systemic system is a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability). Eventually, chronic inflammation and chronic disease can result. Periodontal disease is just one of those chronic diseases that can manifest once the gut becomes unhealthy. However, once periodontal disease exists, then it provides another major portal of entry for toxic elements to move into the systemic system – a “leaky periodontal pocket”.
Both a leaky gut and a leaky periodontal pocket must be treated.
Current Medical Research
Recently published medical papers provide an increased understanding about the interplay between a leaky gut, periodontal disease, and all those bacteria inhabiting the mucosal tissues of the GI tract.
Read these papers, which offer important medical outcomes. I believe we can connect these “dots” of knowledge and develop a clinical protocol for adjunctive treatment of periodontal disease and more.
This 2015 paper pointed out that damage to the gut actually would decrease the body’s ability to maintain a healthy immune system causing potential for various chronic diseases to manifest.
This 2018 review described intestinal permeability and resulting multiple sclerosis as well as other chronic diseases.
Figueredo, et al. in 2017 demonstrated that inflammatory bowel disease can cause periodontal disease, which is a chronic disease.
Bale, et al. in 2017 reviewed the evidence that periodontal disease contributes to atherosclerosis.
McFarlin, et al. in 2017 performed a double-blind study where individuals significantly improved intestinal permeability by taking a spore-based probiotic for only 30 days without changing their unhealthy lifestyles.
Li, et al. in 2016 showed how periodontal disease is a disease of mitochondrial dysfunction within the gingival fibroblasts.
In 2012, Vos, et al. reported that vitamin K2 could rescue damaged mitochondria in fruit flies.
This 2018 review described how vitamin K2 transports out of the liver and then disseminates throughout the body to assist in various biological functions including the prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction.
I believe we can connect these “dots” of knowledge.
Apparently, there is a relationship between gut issues and periodontal disease. It appears there is a progression from dysbiosis to leaky gut, then to decreased host resistance, and finally to mitochondrial dysfunction and the development of various chronic diseases including periodontal disease.
Research suggests that there might be an adjunctive treatment for periodontal disease by treating dysbiosis, repairing the gut membrane with spore-based probiotics, and utilizing vitamin K2 to prevent and repair mitochondrial dysfunction.
My goal is to investigate this possible causal relationship. To that end, Andrew Campbell MD, John Abernethy MD, and I wrote a protocol to study my theory. We submitted our Periodontal Disease Clinical Study to the “Institutional Review Board” (IRB) on 5/31/18.
If our study is approved by the IRB, Microbiome Labs will sponsor our research, which will be double-blind involving approximately 50 individuals with active periodontal disease. Participants will take a placebo or a supplement for 6 weeks. The daily supplement will consist of spore-based probiotics and vitamin K2.
To determine the potential benefits of this supplement, we will measure the depths of infected gum pockets, bleeding in these pockets, and the status of the participants’ mitochondria. At the end of the study, we will repeat these three measurements.
I project that there will be a reduction in pocket depth and bleeding as well as an improvement in the health of the mitochondria.
If our work demonstrates significant benefits, then other investigators could repeat and elaborate on this research. There might be far-reaching inferences that could be considered if our results are positive.
I’m excited to see where this study might go.