Put the Brakes on Dental Disease

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

November 11, 2019 [printfriendly]




Put the Brakes on Dental Disease


In my Blog that I posted on 11/5/19, I described how dental disease starts in the gut. I suggested that readers email me for my detailed Protocols to eat a healthy diet, to restore healthy gut bacteria, and to clean your mouth efficiently. I am providing those Protocols as my way of “giving back” and “paying it forward”.


In this article, I help you understand exactly what you and your family are eating and how to make healthier choices as necessary.



Then & Now

Our primal ancestors rarely had dental diseases. In fact, primal societies living today in various parts of the world rarely have dental diseases and rarely have chronic systemic diseases. So, what changed for us in this modern world?


Processed foods increasingly have replaced real, organic foods. We eat foods made from processed sugars and processed grains at almost every meal. We also frequently drink beverages like soft drinks and sports drinks, which are extremely sweet and acidic. Sugars, grains, acidic drinks, and the chemicals that have been added to these foods have changed the biology of our mouth and our gut. These “foods” have encouraged pathogenic bacteria in the gut and in the mouth to overgrow and cause tooth decay, gum disease, and various chronic diseases.



Unhealthy Food choices

  • Free-sugars[1] are sugars that are added to foods plus sugars that are concentrated in the form of processed honey, syrups, and fruit juices. These allow unhealthy bacteria to grow in the gut as well as the mouth. Pathogenic bacteria can produce acid levels below pH 5.5 around the tooth surface, causing tooth decay and gum disease.[2],[3]
  • Grain products have compounds (called phytates) that bind to nutrients in the saliva and on the tooth surface thereby increasing the potential for tooth decay.[4],[5] They also contain lectins and other proteins that can cause an increase in pathogenic bacteria in the gut, irritation to the gut lining, and chronic inflammation throughout the body. All these changes can compromise the body’s immune system and the health of the mouth.[6]
  • Sodas are very acidic – well below a pH of 5.5 – and also feed decay-producing bacteria with free-sugars.[7] Sugar-free sodas do not have added sugars but do contain artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the gut and create unhealthy types of bacteria.[8] Be aware that many “healthy drinks” include added sugars or artificial sweeteners and would be just as unhealthy or acidic as traditional sodas.



Healthy Food Choices

Specific nutrients present in foods support a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body. Examples are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (ex. healthy fish like salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, shellfish)
  • Vitamin C (ex. citrus, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli)
  • Vitamin D (ex. cod liver oil, herring, rainbow trout, pastured eggs, wild caught sockeye salmon, shiitake mushrooms)
  • Vitamin A (ex. liver, cod liver oil, king mackerel, salmon)
  • Vitamin K2 (ex. natto, raw cheese, butter from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, dark chicken meat)
  • Antioxidants (ex. dark chocolate, berries)
  • Fiber (ex. fruits, vegetables)
  • Magnesium (ex. dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, seeds)




Organic is Important

Ideally, foods should be organic. For a product to be certified organic, it’s required to meet these requirements:

  • Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge.
  • Organic crops cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
  • Animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.
  • Animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) must have access to pasture.
  • Animals cannot be cloned.



Organic is important for three main reasons:

  1. Non-organic foods contain residues of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and you eat them. These toxic substances could cause unhealthy changes in your gut and your immune system, which ultimately would affect your mouth.
  2. When a plant is not exposed to bugs and stressors in its environment, the plant’s internal immune system will have no reason to strengthen. The result is that the plant is rendered weaker. The immune system of the plant (phytonutrients) is what makes the plant a healthy food source for us. So, plants that are exposed to chemicals to ward off bugs and other environmental stressors will be less nutritious than plants that are grown organically.
  3. When animals eat plants that are tainted with chemicals, the toxic elements in the plants are incorporated in the animals’ tissues. When we eat animal products that have eaten these toxic-laden plants, we eat those toxic elements that have been concentrated in the animals’ meat, fat, and other tissues.



3-Day Food Journal

Removing unhealthy food choices and substituting healthier foods can reduce current dental disease and prevent future dental decay and gum disease. So, to help YOU learn what you and your family are eating, I suggest that each member of your family complete a 3-Day Food Journal. In this simple daily journal, you and each of your family members will be able to see exactly what you are eating and what you are not eating. Then, you could make decisions to replace unhealthy food choices with healthier ones as well as add foods that you should be eating but presently are not.


If you would like, I will send you a PDF of my 3-Day Food Journal with instructions including how to fill it out, how to decipher it, and a table of recommendations to replace unhealthy choices with healthier selections. Email your request to me: DrDanenberg@iCloud.com




[1] https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/11/14-031114.pdf

[2] https://cjdr.quintessenz.de/cjdr_2017_04_s0193.pdf

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29190114

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7042578

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9062561

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705319/pdf/nutrients-05-00771.pdf

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063383

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25231862



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What Did You Say I Have?

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       November 8, 2015


evolution r“What did you say I have? I brush my teeth everyday and floss when I can. Now you say I have gum disease that is eating away at my jawbone! How did this happen to me?”


You are not alone!


A study published in 2010 demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth.


Another study published in 2012 by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 47% of the US adult population has periodontitis (the advanced stage of gum disease that eats away at the jawbone). If you were over 65 years old, the prevalence of this advanced infection jumped to 70%. Wow!


Advanced gum disease typically does not hurt. The earlier stage of this disease, which is gingivitis, usually produces bleeding gums. But, if gingivitis progresses to the more advanced stage of periodontitis, the bleeding generally stops as the infection moves deeper under the gums to begin destroying the jawbone.


If left untreated, periodontitis will cause teeth to get loose. Teeth will become sore and painful to the touch. Chewing will become uncomfortable. Infection that is around the tooth root could be pushed into the blood system, affecting other areas of the body. These gum infections could also become severe in the mouth resulting in much swelling, bleeding, and odor. Once the structure of the jawbone is significantly destroyed, the only option would be to extract the teeth involved. In addition to mouth problems, gum disease has been associated with many other bodily conditions such as diabetes, pre-term and low-weight babies, heart disease, and many more.


There are many causes. The most common is bacteria that get under the gums around the teeth that thrive off of the sugars and refined carbohydrates we eat abundantly everyday. Another cause is the lack of efficient oral hygiene, which includes effective tooth and gum cleaning habits. Additional causes are the health of our digestive system, the nutrients that are in our foods, our stress level, and our genetic predisposition. Frequently, habits like gritting or grinding your teeth, even if you are not aware of this habit, could weaken the jawbone and result in further destruction.


You cannot change your genetics, but you can change the quality of foods you eat and your lifestyle, and you can learn to properly clean around your teeth and gums.


Those who read my blogs may know that I am a periodontist (gum specialist) with 41 years experience in treating patients with advanced gum disease. I also am licensed in the laser gum treatment called LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure), which is patient-friendly and involves no cutting with scalpels and no stitches. I have found this to be the best way to treat advanced gum disease. In addition, I am a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner using this background to guide patients to a healthier diet and lifestyle. Some of my patients decide to complete a 3-Day Food Journal, which allows me to evaluate their eating and lifestyle habits and then to recommend healthier food and lifestyle choices.


I offer my patients a Lifestyle Repair Plan, in which I recommend an anti-inflammatory diet, selecting from a host of nutrient-dense foods. These are the foods that have a great deal of nutrients packed into each calorie. My Plan also incorporates changes in lifestyle that are critical for overall health. Included are concepts of health maintenance like Oral Care, Restorative Sleep, Efficient Exercise, and Stress Reduction – concepts that I have summarized into simple and doable steps.


My goal for my patients is to treat their active gum infections, teach them methods to maintain a healthy mouth, and assist them with eating and lifestyle changes that could lead not only to a healthier mouth for the rest of their lives but also to a healthier body.

My Gums are Bleeding and Sore

evolution rAbout a year ago I was asked to evaluate a patient who had bleeding gums, which was not responding to daily, good oral hygiene and had not responded to a deep cleaning by the hygienist in his dentist’s office.
This was a 71-year old gentleman who had ongoing gum issues for over 3 years. When I spoke to him, he did not complain of pain all the time, but he explained that his gums would bleed when he brushed his teeth and were a little sore. He wanted a quick fix like an antibiotic.
I told him we first needed to rule out infections and any blood diseases including serious diseases like cancers. As I questioned him, he told me that he had bouts of diarrhea and bloating. He also complained of acid reflux disease for which his medical doctor put him on an acid-reducing prescription. When I questioned him about his eating habits, he told me he had a healthy bowl of oatmeal every morning and usually some pasta dish with dinner. I suggested that some of his problem could come from the grains that he was eating.
He immediately dismissed my idea because he had been eating this way his entire life, and that obviously could not be at the cause of his gum sores. He left my office to seek other opinions.
Then several months later, I saw him again. He had seen an oral surgeon and then his own medical doctor who put him on anti-inflammatory prescription drugs. These meds did not resolve his bleeding gums. He finally allowed me to make my suggestions.
I had him fill out a 3-day food journal listing everything he ate. He also had to write down the frequency of his bowel movements and any exercise he participated in during these three days. When I reviewed his journal with him, we discovered he was eating some type of grain product with every meal as well as every snack. He also realized that he was eating very few green vegetables. Most of his drinks were laden with sugar.
I had him promise to do an experiment for 30 days. Since he had been suffering with bleeding, sore gums for several years, to experiment on himself for 30 days would not be too much to ask of him. He agreed, and here is what I recommended:
• Eliminate all grains – I described the foods that had grains and grain products, which had to be eliminated. I also gave him a list of foods that could be substituted for these grains and snacks. I even included some of my favorite recipes.
• Eliminate all sugary drinks – I recommended various drinks including regular water that he should be drinking.
• I suggested that he begin to take a nutrient-dense supplement of fermented cod liver oil capsules as well as organic kelp powder capsules every day. I gave him resources online where he could purchase them.
• I explained the benefits of coconut oil as an excellent mouthwash. He would place about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil in is mouth and swish. At the end of 10 minutes, he would spit it out and rinse with water. He could do that several times a day if he wanted.
• Then, at the end of 30 days, he and I would get back together to see what happened.
To his astonishment, his bleeding gums were significantly better after 30 days – not healed yet, but much better. My further discussions with him were to include improving the bacteria in his gut and continuing to modify his diet to remove all offending items and replace what needed to be there. If necessary at a later date, I would suggest some functional testing to delve into specific cellular problems.