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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Dental Disease Starts in the Gut
– Who’d A Thunk It? –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

November 5, 2019 [printfriendly]




Dental Disease Starts in the Gut


Tooth decay and gum (periodontal) disease are the major dental diseases afflicting all of us. The prevalence of these diseases is staggering. About 93% of US adults have had tooth decay during their life. And about the same percentage have some form of active gum inflammation. These statistics suggest there is an epidemic of dental disease in the United States.


So, why is dental disease at epidemic proportions? Is dental plaque not being removed completely from around teeth?


Dental plaque is not the only reason. Although it is important to clean your mouth appropriately.



Dental Plaque

We only need to look at our primal ancestors for some answers. If you were to examine human dental jaws from 10,000 years ago to 20,000 years ago, you would find there are minimal tooth decay and minimal damage in the bone around the teeth. In other words, there is little evidence of dental disease.


However, these jaws show there is a great deal of tartar (i.e. calculus) at the tooth-jawbone margin. Calculus is mineralized dental plaque. Therefore, our primal ancestors rarely had tooth decay or periodontal disease, but they had huge amounts of dental plaque.


So, it’s not healthy dental plaque that is the culprit for tooth decay or gum disease. Science suggests that it is unhealthy dental plaque causing dental disease. Then the question becomes, “How does healthy dental plaque become unhealthy dental plaque?”



The Gut

The answer lies in our gut and in our immune system. Our immune system is responsible to keep us healthy. It is also responsive to the health of the bacteria in the gut. These “gardens of bacteria” in our gut play many critical roles for the overall health of our body. When the gut microbiome becomes out-of-balance (i.e. gut dysbiosis), then the immune system becomes compromised and gets out of-whack.[1]


Once the immune system is compromised, all mucosal tissues in the body are affected. This includes the microbiome in the mouth. When the oral microbiome becomes unbalanced, the composition of dental plaque becomes unhealthy. Pathologic forms of bacteria expand. The pathological bacteria overgrow and result in unhealthy dental plaque. This unhealthy dental plaque is the culprit for tooth decay and periodontal disease.


Specific foods like added sugars and over-processed carbohydrates can encourage pathological forms of bacteria to continue to proliferate in the mouth. Also, these foods can aggravate and worsen gut dysbiosis. Now, there is a vicious cycle in play that promotes ongoing disease.


Several studies have shown that replacing an unhealthy processed food diet with a nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet will improve the bacterial dental plaque. Even without brushing and flossing, the bacterial plaque will become healthier, and pathologic bacteria will become balanced among the approximately 700 species of bacteria in the plaque. And these three human studies show that it will only take 30 days for this to occur. (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE)


Proper diet will accomplish much. But frequently, you can include several supplements in your daily routine to improve the diversity and quality of bacteria in the gut. My protocol to improve the gut bacteria includes these supplements:


  • MegaSporeBiotic to repopulate the gut bacteria with healthy and diverse strains
  • MegaPrebiotic to feed the good bacteria in the gut
  • MegaMucosa to improve the mucous layer in the gut the lines the epithelial barrier, which keeps the bad stuff out of the blood system and allows all the necessary nutrients to enter the blood stream.



Bottom Line

So, to obtain the best health in your mouth, you should:

  • Clean your mouth appropriately
  • Eat nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods
  • Repopulate the healthy bacteria in your gut
  • Feed the healthy bacteria in your gut with necessary fibers
  • Assure the mucous layer in your gut is healthy


If you contact me by email, I will send my protocols for (1) a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, (2) how to clean your mouth, and (3) how to restore healthy bacteria in your gut. Send your request to: DrDanenberg@icloud.com


[1]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567014/  



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An Allegory About Dental Disease

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
December 27, 2016 [printfriendly]



Below is an allegory inferring the way the dental profession has dealt with dental disease up until now. To address these issues, I’ve written a continuing education program for dentists and dental hygienists that is unique. It details the methods of preventing and reversing dental disease, building on a perspective of primal nutrition and functional medicine. In my next article, I will discuss this 5-part, 7-hour accredited course.


But for now, the allegory:


An Allegory

Imagine a road in a busy neighborhood with many homes lining the street. And, assume that many children live in these homes with their parents along with many of their pets. The street has no posted speed limit, and many cars and trucks whiz by frequently.


Children, dogs, and cats wandered into this street, and many got hurt – some severely and some even died. The community was stunned but responded in a predictable way.


The neighborhood put up a barrier along the side of the road to prevent kids and animals from wandering into the street. But, kids and animals were able to get around this barrier and continued to get hurt or killed. More barriers were placed, but children and their pets still were able to figure out how to get around them or over them.


More barriers were erected. For a time, the extra barriers worked. They kept the children and their pets from getting into the street. But, the barriers began to breakdown, and the oncoming and speeding traffic again became a real problem.


What could be done?


No one seemed to think about the simplest and most direct solutions. Someone not from the neighborhood finally suggested:

  • First, the speed limit needed to be posted at 25 miles-an-hour, and the limit had to be enforced and monitored vigorously.
  • Second, parents needed to be educated about how to prevent their children from wandering into the road.
  • Also, parents needed to learn how to teach their children the dangers of the street and the cars. Children needed to be shown the consequences of dashing into oncoming traffic.
  • In addition, families needed to learn how to contain their animals so they would not run free in the neighborhood.
  • Most importantly, families needed to demonstrate that they understood this newly-learned information to save their children and their pets from harm.


Relation to Dental Disease

Putting barriers in the way of bacteria and acids has traditionally been the way to treat dental disease. It seems that no one is getting to the ultimate causes of these chronic and devastating health problems. Understanding and removing the actual underlying causes will go a long way in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.


Beat the Beast of Dental Disease is the program that gets to the bottom of all this. It builds from the basics of biology. Just putting barriers in the way of these diseases is not the answer. Barriers have been the preferred treatment plan forever. This ineffective way of thinking must change.


Next week, I will describe my continuing education program, Beat the Beast of Dental Disease.




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An Apple a Day
Gut Health & Mouth Health

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
November 28, 2016 [printfriendly]



applesEveryone has heard the proverbial phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, there is research that shows two apples a day prepared properly improve gut health. A healthy gut, in turn, helps prevent chronic inflammation. Also, a healthy gut creates a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, which goes a long way in maintaining mouth health. And so, two apples a day really might keep the doctor away!


Benefits of Apples

Two cooked apples a day could improve the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut. In fact, your gut’s health could improve within 2-3 weeks of eating cooked apples daily.


Published research has shown apples improve the gut bacteria that reduce inflammation. Human studies also have shown that apples improve colitis symptoms, and studies in rats have shown apples reduce the risk of colon cancer and other intestinal diseases.


Beyond the gut, the health properties of apples benefit the entire body. For example, apples even may reduce the levels of unhealthy lipids in the blood. Interestingly from Dr. Michael Ash’s research, two apples a day have the anti-inflammatory benefit of taking 10-15 mg of a steroid, without any of the side effects of steroid medication.


Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®

Real food has everything the body needs to survive and thrive. It has been that way for 2.5 million years of human evolution. Our genes receive critical information from nutrient-dense foods to run the business of keeping our bodies healthy. Our healthy microbiome throughout our body also receives critical information from the foods we eat.


My slogan, Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.® says it all. By taking care of the health of your gut and all the healthy microbes that live there, you can improve your immune system. Your immune system is figuratively the well-equipped armed forces of your body. Its mission is to fight anything that is harmful to your body. If you improve your immune system, you can improve your mouth health.


I have posted a recipe to make applesauce, which I call Anti-inflammatory Applesauce. One cup of this homemade applesauce provides approximately two apples of this gut-healing, anti-inflammatory food.


To enhance the health of my gut, I also sometimes take one capsule of Prescript-Assist Probiotic with a cup of goat kefir. (I like the Redwood Farms brand.) Prescript-Assist Probiotic is a combination of various beneficial soil-based microbes.


Personally, I am fanatical about the human machine I call my body. I make a choice to stay as healthy as I can. I know from personal experience that my gut is the first place to begin the process.




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Dental Disease
Stop with the labels; Get to the causes

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
November 21, 2016 [printfriendly]



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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Dentistry is Getting it Wrong:
Part 2 of 2

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      May 23, 2016   [printfriendly]

Dentistry is Getting it WrongIn my last article, I wrote how I believe dentistry is getting it wrong. I challenged my profession and dental colleagues to educate themselves about the biological causes of dental disease. I also challenged them to implement an education program for their patients about biological prevention. Here is my summary of how to implement a biological prevention program in the dental office. I call my program, Beat the Beast of Dental Disease.


Beat the Beast of Dental Disease
5 Steps for a Biological Prevention Program in the Dental Office


  1. Teach the important points of human evolution and its effect on dental health
    Throughout human evolution, our species rarely experienced gum disease or tooth decay. We know this from our primal ancestors’ skeletal remains, which generally have demonstrated healthy teeth and healthy jawbones. Nutrient-dense foods (most of which have been anti-inflammatory) have been the mainstay of almost all diets of primitive societies. There are primal societies today who still consume these types of foods and who rarely have tooth decay or gum disease.


  2. Explain how the mouth fell out-of-balance
    As civilized societies began eating processed grains and sugars, dental disease began to rise. After processed foods replaced farm-fresh foods, additional chemicals were added to these foods, which affected the health of the mouth as well as the rest of the body. These foods and chemicals frequently caused good bacteria in the gut to be overwhelmed by harmful bacteria. These bad bacteria harmed the gut lining and the immune system. These changes led to chronic inflammation travelling throughout the entire body. Ultimately, the healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth changed. As bad bacteria grew to unhealthy levels in the mouth, tooth decay and gum disease proliferated. A vicious cycle began between (1) inflammation and infection in the mouth and (2) inflammation and infection in the gut and throughout the body. Our body was out-of-balance.


  3. Describe what the mouth needs to stay in balance
    The mouth requires the proper nutrients to stay healthy and in balance naturally. This includes eating various animal products that are pastured and wild caught as well as many varieties of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Ideally, foods should be raised and grown organically. All the natural macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) as well as vitamins and minerals that will maintain strong and healthy teeth are provided in these foods.


  4. Identify what is damaging the body’s ability to maintain a healthy mouth
    Foods that disrupt the body’s ability to function as it was designed to function must be eliminated from the diet. All processed foods have various damaging effects on the cells of the body. Specific foods like processed grains, sugars, artificial sweeteners, man-made fats, and sodas of any type are specifically harmful. These foods also do not provide the critical nutrients necessary for cellular health. Chemicals and other toxic substances that are incorporated in processed foods further damage the body and disturb the delicate balance.


  5. Demonstrate to each patient the specific, efficient, effective, and simple methods to mechanically keep the mouth in balance
    This includes brushing at the gum line, cleaning between the teeth, and scraping the top surface of the tongue. I have written about this in detail HERE.


My 5-step program could be promoted through social media and marketing efforts used by the dental office. All members of the dental team would need to be familiar with these concepts and must be on board with the science and benefits. Flyers and posters (featuring colorful and appealing graphics) could be placed in the reception room further educating patients about the program. Pamphlets summarizing the major points of the program could be produced and provided to interested patients. One-on-one demonstration of the methods to mechanically and appropriately clean the mouth should be part of every dental hygiene cleaning appointment. For patients who are motivated to make a change, a nutrition appointment customized for the patient could go into more detail of the good foods that need to be eaten and the harmful foods that need to be eliminated from his or her diet.


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