Gut Problems Causing Mouth Problems?:
Lab Tests for the Not-So-Obvious

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 21, 2016  


Not-So-ObviousI recently wrote about gut problems that could cause gum problems and how functional medicine might shed some light on not-so-obvious triggers. In this article, I discuss some tests that could point to an underlying cause.


There are specific functional-medicine tests that may help put together the pieces to this puzzle. Unfortunately, no tests are 100% conclusive. Some are more accurate than others. However, many may give false positives as well as false negatives. Here are two examples of errors in testing:

  • A false positive: a test result that reported you had a specific unhealthy gut microbe possibly causing your gum problems, but in fact you did not have that unhealthy microbe.
  • A false negative: a test result that reported there were no out-of-whack gut microbes, when in fact there were some bad guys that could be the culprits.


While not 100% accurate, the tests below may help identify some not-so-obvious causes that could affect your mouth problems. Your doctor could order any of these for you if necessary:

  • Cyrex Labs has a number of blood tests that can suggest if you are sensitive to specific foods that you are eating, which could cause unhealthy immune responses in your body. Specifically, they are Array 3, 4, and 10. Combined, these tests can help narrow down specific foods that may be harmful to you. A blood lab draws your blood. Then, the blood technician sends the tubes to Cyrex for analysis.
  • Doctor’s Data provides a stool test that tries to identify specific bacteria, yeasts, or parasites, which might be the source of your mouth problems originating in your large intestine. The test consists of taking 3 stool samples on 3 consecutive days. You send the collection tubes to Doctor’s Data for analysis.
  • SIBO Center for Digestive Health offers a breath test that might suggest if there were bacteria out of control in your small intestine. This test uses a fermentable, non-absorbable sugar (lactulose) that you add to water and drink. Every 20 minutes you exhale into a collection device that collects your breath into a small vacuum tube. You do this for 3 hours collecting 10 separate samples of your exhaled breath. These are sent to the lab, which can determine the amount of methane and hydrogen gases that are in the collection tubes. These results may determine if there were unhealthy bacteria in your small intestine producing these gases.


This is important: These tests should not be the first thing to do to get to the bottom of your dental problems. The first thing to do is to rule out the obvious causes of gum disease such as unhealthy dental plaque, tartar under the gums, or excessive biting forces on your teeth. Most likely, addressing the obvious causes and then improving your oral hygiene as well as your overall diet will take care of all your gum problems.


However, the specialized tests I have described could detect some not-so-obvious causes starting in your gut that may be affecting the health of your mouth.


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Can Gut Problems Cause Gum Problems?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 5, 2016  


Gut Problems and Gum ProblemsYes!


But, my next statement may be even more important: Bad things may be going on in your gut without causing obvious gut symptoms. Yet, those bad things still could be causing your gum problems.


Let me explain.


The tube that extends for about 30 feet from your mouth to your anus is called the digestive tract or gastrointestinal tract. Anything that goes on in any part of that tube may affect everything else in that tube. If you had unhealthy changes in your gut, they definitely could affect your mouth.


What could affect the gut?


The foods you eat could change the bacteria populations in your gut, which could damage your gut lining. Also, some foods could put holes in the lining of your gut. Then, undigested food particles and bacteria particles could leak from your gut into your blood system and cause various inflammatory reactions. All this could affect other areas in your body.


Changes in the bacteria in your gut and changes in the lining of your gut also could cause changes in the tissues in your mouth. You could develop ulcers in your mouth; you could have unhealthy increases of bad bacteria around your gums; you could develop serious damage in the bone that holds your teeth in place in your jaw. Gut issues could cause all these mouth issues. However, as I mentioned, you may not have obvious gut pain or other gut symptoms.


Are there tests that can suggest what is happening in the gut?


Some functional medicine tests could help determine if you are sensitive to specific foods that could be the culprits. Other tests could help determine if there is an abundance of bad bacteria or other microbes living in your gut. Additional tests could identify if your gut lining is damaged and causing leakage into your bloodstream. These tests might help your dentist or other practitioner get to the bottom of your mouth problems.


Although proper oral hygiene is very important to help your mouth stay healthy, there may be other causes. Not-so-obvious causes may start in your gut but later affect your mouth. Probably, up to this point, no one has addressed those possibilities.


If you suffer from these problems, a dentist that understands functional medicine might be able to help.


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Functional Medicine & Dental Health:
Is There Something To It?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 2, 2016  


Have you heard the term “functional medicine” floating around the Internet? Do you know what it means?


Functional Medicine & Dental HealthMany traditional medical practitioners do not embrace the concepts of functional medicine, but I do. Let me explain how functional medicine could actually benefit your dental health.


I am a traditionally educated periodontist and have been in practice for almost 42 years. Three years ago I began extensive functional-medicine training and subsequently earned the designation of Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. I have found incorporating the concepts of functional medicine with my traditional practice of treating gum disease can enhance the treatment I offer my patients.


So, what is Functional Medicine? Functional medicine is the science of looking deeper and deeper for the causes of disease and not just managing the symptoms of disease. Everything starts on the cellular level. Since there are 10 trillion human cells, there is a lot going on. Cells communicate with one another. A breakdown in that communication for whatever reasons can lead to improper function down the line – in the mouth and in the entire body.


In my experience with patients over the years, most have wanted to know the cause of their gum problems. The obvious causes are dental plaque, poor oral hygiene, and unhealthy biting forces on the teeth. These play an important role in the progression of gum disease. However, in certain situations, there may be more to gum disease than these obvious causes.


For example, some patients brush and floss daily, but still have bleeding gums. Others may see their dentist every six months, but they still are loosing their teeth. What’s going on here? Could there be deeper problems that have not been identified?


Functional medicine helps me look deeper into the not-so-obvious causes and mechanisms involved with gum diseases, which also may be causing other chronic diseases.


I believe that every patient is an individual and does not just fit into a group statistic. Each person has unique cellular qualities that respond to different things in different ways. My job is to find the individual differences that are causing disease and to help my patients become healthier. Specific functional medicine tests may take me a step closer to learning what is going on for that individual.


Since the mouth is just the beginning of the digestive tract that ends at the anus, anything that affects one part of this tube could affect other parts. Various tests can be performed using blood, saliva, urine, stool, and breath to help put the pieces of the puzzle together. Damage to the gut lining, overgrowth of bad bacteria and other microbes, and toxic chemicals interfering with the functions of cells can all be studied by using specific functional testing. If damage to some of the cells could be traced back to specific offenders, and if those offenders could be removed or corrected, then other cells might heal. Improving the health of individual cells could improve the health of tissues and organ systems. The mouth as well as the entire body could benefit from discovering the underlying causes.


In future articles, I will describe several of the most reliable functional medicine tests that could be considered.


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