Dental Disease
Stop with the labels; Get to the causes

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
November 21, 2016



labelsDental disease is a label. Just as cardiovascular disease is a label. Rheumatoid arthritis is a label. Multiple sclerosis is a label. Let’s stop with the labels, and get to the causes.


Disease Labels

The medical field puts labels on all disease states. These labels define how the disease manifests in the body. There are specific signs and symptoms that define specifically named diseases. However, the label says nothing about what really has caused this specific disease. Most of these diseases are chronic, meaning they (1) last a long time, (2) don’t resolve by themselves, and (3) frequently have various factors that give rise to the disease. Many chronic diseases are also autoimmune, which means the body’s immune system is attacking itself.


Dental diseases, for the most part, are chronic diseases. These includes gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease generally is further subdivided into gingivitis (gum infection) and periodontitis (infection that is destroying the jawbone surrounding the roots of teeth). However, the labels of gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth decay don’t identify what has happened to the body to cause these diseases.


The Gut

Science has shown that most of these chronic diseases originate from something that happens in the gut. Genetic factors may determine what kinds of chronic diseases eventually occur, but the first damage seems to be related to something that happens in the gut that is not supposed to happen.


Harmful bacterial overgrowth in the gut is one of the factors that occurs before chronic disease becomes a problem. Damage to the lining of the gut, which is only one-cell layer thick, is another factor that causes chronic disease. Almost all autoimmune diseases are ultimately related to damage in the gut before they emerge in the human body. Gum disease has been identified to some extent to be an autoimmune disease.


“Betrayal Series”

Dr. Tom O’Bryan and 85 other healthcare professionals have come together to create a series of videos about how autoimmune disease can be traced back to damage starting in the gut. It’s called the Betrayal Series. This is a great series, and it made its free debut on the Internet on November 14, 2016. The total viewing time for all 7 episodes is about 9 hours. Once the free viewing ends, they will become available for purchase. You could find more information about these videos on Betrayal’s website.


The bottom line is that (1) a compromised immune system and (2) virulent changes of the natural bacteria in the mouth can be traced back to damage created in the gut. Specific foods we eat and various toxic substances we ingest are instrumental in causing damage to the gut. Dental disease, including gum disease and dental decay, could be significantly improved if the gut’s damage is understood and lifestyle changes are implemented to heal the gut. The Betrayal Series is an excellent educational tool to help you understand the relationship between your gut and the rest of your body, including your mouth.




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Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®
What Does This Mean?


        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 11, 2015


Dr. Danenberg LogoYour Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.® This is my slogan. But, do you know what it means?


Medical articles are pouring out about the importance of the bacteria in our guts. Since 2002, there have been 508 published peer-reviewed papers in PubMed on the subject of the “importance of the gut microbiome” as of today. is the government website that archives all peer-reviewed medical research from around the world. This is the most important source of medical information that has been independently studied and reported for the general and professional public. The most recently published article on the importance of gut bacteria appeared on November 20, 2015 in It describes the direct relationship of gut bacteria and autoimmune diseases, specifically lupus.


In fact, periodontal disease has been identified in part as an autoimmune disease.


Autoimmune disease is when your body incorrectly assumes its own cells are “invaders”, and your immune system starts to attack your own cells. Not a good thing. Examples of autoimmune diseases are lupus, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, lichen planus, and type 1 diabetes to name a few.


It makes sense to discover what is causing an autoimmune disease and eliminate it. The health of your gums as well as the health of the overall body will benefit. Dr. Alessio Fasano suggested that autoimmune diseases are a result of harmful foods that irritate the gut and create growth of unhealthy bacteria, both of which causes tears in the gut lining. The bad stuff then leaks into the blood system leading to autoimmune diseases.


So, the health of the gut is critical. It is your choice. Make your gut healthy, and you will improve your overall health including your mouth health.

Is Gum Disease an Autoimmune Disease?

evolution rGum disease (or periodontal disease) can be viewed as an acute infection as well as a chronic infection. Is the chronic phase actually related to an autoimmune reaction?


An autoimmune disease is a disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, leading to the deterioration, and in some cases to the destruction, of its healthy tissue.


In the acute phase of periodontal disease, bacteria can initiate an infection and inflammation with significant swelling and bleeding and pain. Taking an antimicrobial or removing the irritant causing the distress could relieve the acute symptoms and destroy some of the offending microbes. Acute means a condition of short duration but typically severe.


In the chronic phase of periodontal disease, inflammation exists for a long time or is constantly recurring. Chronic diseases don’t heal by themselves, and they grow worse over time. A chronic disease usually doesn’t have one single cause but rather several factors that give rise to the disease. Individuals with chronic disease generally also have complex symptoms.


Could chronic periodontal disease have many components, one of which being an autoimmune response?


Dr. Alessio Fasano has suggested that autoimmune diseases are a result of these three elements:

  • A genetic predisposition, and
  • An environmental trigger (like diet or bacteria), and
  • Leaky gut.


In his conclusion, if you could eliminate any one of these, then you could potentially eliminate the autoimmune reaction.


It is interesting to note that many inflammatory markers in patients with periodontal disease are the same ones present in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease. Some researchers have raised the question, “Which came first, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Periodontal Disease?”


In November 2013, several researchers published a paper demonstrating that specific intestinal bacteria were strongly correlated with newly acquired rheumatoid arthritis in their patient base. Also, these researchers showed that those specific bacteria when placed into the guts of sterile mice caused inflammatory reactions like those in their rheumatoid arthritis patients.


It is not a big leap to consider that specific unhealthy bacteria in the gut are actually initiating or contributing to the development and progression of chronic periodontal disease. Therefore, it would not be a big leap to consider improving the diet to eliminate the offending “foods” that cause unhealthy changes not only in the gut lining but also in the healthy microbiome of the gut. The lifestyle that might work the best could incorporate a Paleolithic-type diet.



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