Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
June 11, 2018
Could my dental profession be turning a deaf ear to the science that shows that diet is critical for the health of the mouth, not to mention the health of the rest of the body? My most recent experience with a company that provides printed and online information to dentists may be representative of most conventional dentists and organized dentistry.
Dentistry as a Platform
You know me. I have written many articles and have posted them on my website citing peer-reviewed medical research regarding nutrition. These papers support a nutrient-dense diet along with the removal of offending foods. These offending foods damage the gut, the mouth, and the entire body.
In my way of thinking, dentistry is the perfect field within the entire healthcare profession to talk “prevention” through nutrition. My profession owns the perfect platform to launch concepts of healthy nutrition.
Dentists work in the mouth. They see the devastation that poor food choices create in the mouth ranging from lesions in soft tissues, to destruction of tooth structure, to breakdown in jawbone, and to leakage of pathogens into the blood system. Based on these facts, I created a program that could teach a dental office a novel approach to educate their patients and improve their dental health.
I approached a well-respected organization that prides itself on providing all areas of education for the promotion of quality dentistry. This company offers online and printed articles, continuing education opportunities, seminars, webinars, and interactive discussions relating to the practice of dentistry. It is an excellent and reliable resource for dentists.
I offered my newly created program to this organization for publication in their various media sources. My program teaches a step-by-step, personalized system that would train the dental staff to evaluate patients’ food choices, to identify their poor food selections, and to offer healthier alternatives. I thought this organization would embrace my in-office and innovative program. There has never been a program like this before in dentistry. However, I was surprised by their response.
The organization recognized that my program was based on peer-reviewed medical research. However, the board members (who were responsible for decisions about what material was worthy of publication) stated that they did not see value in nutritional counseling! They felt that there was no convincing reason why dentists should take on this additional responsibility and duty when dentists were already overworked by repairing the damage already done in the mouth.
Most medical and dental professionals are comfortable within their sphere of traditional training. Most of these professionals are reluctant to explore new and “non-mainstream” ideas that would place them outside of the box of conventional medicine and dentistry.
This establishment-thinking is similar to the experience I described in a previous article. In that article, I wrote about the head of the department of restorative dentistry at a major dental school. He explained to me, “Amalgams are controversial. Mercury in existing dental fillings is no problem.” This “dental educator” went on to emphasize that there were no studies that showed mercury being released from old amalgams caused damage to human cells. That comment blew me away.
The refusal from a “progressive dental company” to publish a nutritional program that would help dental offices teach patients the good and the bad of what they actually are eating also blows me away. As I already stated, who else is better situated to educate patients about the food they eat than dentists whose playground is the mouth of their patients.
Oh well. I will keep doing what I have been doing. And, there will still be many roadblocks and hurdles along the way. I’ve learned that the road to change is littered with closed-minded, non-thinkers. As happens frequently, meaningful change begins from “without” and not from “within”.
So sad think medical folk are mostly the same re nutrition. However there are people/patients who learn and benefit. We all need to keep fighting the good fight!
Keep at it, Doctor. I have had a consult with you. And following your advice I have had no bleeding in my last several visits. When I told the dentist I had been brushing with coconut oil, he said, ‘well, you should be using flouride in your toothpaste.’ Flouride, mercury, and what else?
Thank you for your work.
Dana: Thank you!
Dear Dr Dan,
I live in England and am attending the Leeds Dental Institute where future dentists train.At my last visit I was given a form to fill in stating what I had eaten and drank for 3 weekdays and when I went to bed. Perhaps things are changing over here?
Sorry about my ignorance, but can you explore more on the last statement: As happens frequently, meaningful change begins from “without” and not from “within”.
In my opinion, most of the change in the dental and medical professions will come from non-professional people forcing dentists and physicians to make a change. Little change comes from dentists and physicians initiating changes in their professions by themselves.
Thanks Dr. Dan, you’re right, many dental & medical professionals have limited their scope to the “corrective” approach rather than the “preventive” – maybe some do not want to leave their comfort zone even when there’s evidence (or lack of) to change mind. As John Maynard Keynes put it: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”