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.

If You Knew A Train Were Coming,
Would You Get Off The Tracks?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      November 2, 2015   [printfriendly]
 
 
     
 

evolution rOver the course of 2.5 million years, our species evolved into a perfect machine. Dealing with a host of environments and demands, our genetic structure developed the abilities to become the master control center of our well-being. That was the way it was meant to be. But about 10,000 years ago, a train started coming down the tracks, and modern man was not aware of its approach.

 

The train was in the form of lifestyle changes that would insidiously affect our body’s ability to function as it was designed to function.

 

Beginning 10,000 years ago or so, our species became progressively at odds with our genetic code. In many aspects we have become an unhealthy people. In many aspects, we have allowed changes to occur in our modern lifestyles that have brought us to a crossroads. Either we will continue on the destructive path affecting our health and well-being, or we will take steps moving forward to repair our body.

 

Fortunately, for the most part, we have control over our future. You may be surprised that poor lifestyle choices accumulate over time to cause chronic inflammation, which is a major factor in many of today’s chronic diseases. These diseases lead to a decrease in quality of life and a decrease in longevity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 50% of the US population (approximately 117 million people in 2012) had some form of chronic disease. (Here) Our primal ancestors hardly ever had, and today’s traditional societies hardly ever have, chronic diseases.

 

Interestingly, almost everything begins with our mouths. Certainly, our nourishment begins with our mouths. And, our mouths have become unhealthy – more unhealthy than ever before in our species’ 2.5 million-year journey. I start my story with the mouth. From there, the whole body becomes its playground.

 

A study published in 2010 demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis, which is infection and bleeding of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth. (Here)

 

Another study published in 2015 (discussing data from 2009-2012) showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the United States had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans), and an astounding 70.1% of those over the age of 65 had this disease. (Here)

 

Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body.

 

So, if you have gum disease, you are not alone.

 

Obviously, our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes and did not see a dentist every 6 months, but they had relatively healthy mouths. They hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. Why?

 

Today, many people see a dentist every 6 months and also brush and floss daily, but some still have gum disease. How could that be?

 

What we have learned to believe may not be so. Josh Billings (the 19th Century humorist) put it so clearly: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”

 

Your mouth health and your overall health are related to the nourishment you give yourself and the lifestyle you lead. My original question was, “If you knew a train were coming, would you get off the tracks?” If your modern lifestyle could be causing severe health damage going forward, would you change your ways to get and stay healthy? The steps to repair your body are not complicated. I have discussed these steps in previous blogs, and I will continue to emphasize my philosophy in future blogs.

 

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Stinky Breath?
It’s More Than You Think!

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       October 18, 2015

 
Interestingly, almost everything begins with our mouths. Certainly, our nourishment begins with our mouths. And, our mouths have become unhealthy – more unhealthy than ever before in our species’ 2.5 million-year journey. Stinky breath could be a manifestation of many diseases.

 
evolution rOver the course of 2.5 million years, our species evolved into a perfect machine. Dealing with a host of environments and demands, our genetic structure developed the abilities to become the master control center of our well-being. But beginning 10,000 years ago or so, our species has been progressively at odds with our genetic code. In many aspects we have become an unhealthy people. Our modern lifestyles have brought us to the brink of either continuing on a destructive path or taking steps to repair our body.

 
However, for the most part, we do have control over these missteps. You may be surprised that poor lifestyle choices cause chronic inflammation, which in turn is a major factor in many of today’s diseases.

 
A study published in 2012 showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the United States had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans), and an astounding 70.1% of those over the age of 65 had this disease.

 
Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis, which is inflammation only in the gum tissue. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body. Gum disease is an important thread of integrative medicine.

 
Obviously, our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes and did not see a dentist every 6 months, but they had relatively healthy mouths. They hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. Why?

 
Today, many people see a dentist every 6 months and also brush and floss daily, but they still have gum disease. How could that be? What we have learned to believe may not be so. Josh Billings (the 19th Century humorist) put it so clearly: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”

 
The “whys & hows” are related to the nourishment we give ourselves and the lifestyles we lead. As I stated, our modern lifestyle has brought us to the brink of either continuing on a destructive path or taking steps to repair our body. The steps to repair our body do not have to be complicated.

 
The steps require an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet and a lifestyle similar to those of our primal ancestors. This lifestyle includes efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and stress reduction. Whatever eventually happens on a cellular level anywhere in the body also affects the entire human complexity. All will be discussed in my new book titled, MODERN LIFESTYLE AT THE BRINK: Perspectives & Solutions from 2.5 Million Years of Evolution. Publication date is yet to be determined.

We Were Born to be Healthy:
Part 2 of 7

evolution rThis is the 2nd part of the series. Part 1 is here.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2012 that 47.2% of the US adult population had periodontitis, and the prevalence jumped to 70.1% for adults 65 years old and beyond. I am talking about periodontitis, which is the more advanced stage of gum disease where jawbone is being destroyed, and infection can spread throughout the body. The statistics would be even larger if I were talking about gingivitis, which is a reversible, more common, and early stage of gum disease. The study that was published was the most complete periodontal evaluation ever reported on a national scale.
 
The facts are that periodontitis, gingivitis, and tooth decay have not always been a problem. If you take a much broader look, you will get a much clearer picture by going back to our primal ancestors.
 
Our human species has been evolving for about 2.5 million years. Our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes, or dental floss, or added-fluoride in their water supply. Obviously, they did not see a dentist every six months, yet they hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay until about 10,000 years ago. What caused the prevalence of periodontitis to jump from practically 0% before 10,000 years ago to 70% today?
 
Researchers today have done some amazing things. They not only have uncovered skeletal remains of our Primal ancestors, but they also have developed DNA tests that can identify the types of bacteria in the ancient remnants of dental calculus.
 
The dental remains from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago demonstrated minimal decay and minimal periodontitis, but there was much bacterial diversity in the dental calculus. Interestingly, these bacteria were not virulent and were in a state of homeostasis. Then, about 10,000 years ago, the dental remains began to demonstrate increasing signs of decay and alveolar bone loss. The bacteria became more virulent. About 170 years ago, the prevalence of these diseases exploded and the bacteria became skewed to very unhealthy types. The question again is, “What Happens and Why?”
 
Questioning what we think we know
 
We really don’t know the entire etiology of tooth decay or periodontal disease or cardiovascular disease or any other chronic disease. We may have some ideas, but are they correct?
 
“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.” Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw), 19th Century humorist
 
It is difficult to arrive at accurate answers because there is so much we don’t know. Sometimes, what we think we know gets redefined and proven wrong. And then, there is a vast amount that we don’t know that we don’t know!
 
It’s not just in our genes
 
There is a science called Epigenetics. It is the study of environmental factors influencing our genetic expression. Over 90% of all chronic disease today is related to either what we put into our bodies that should not be ingested, or what we need to put into our bodies that we don’t. That is a very strong statement, and most of the medical profession does not know this or does not know its implications. The answers to the question “What happens and why?” lie in this concept.

Your Gums and Your Health

evolution rI write frequently about nutrition, gum disease, and overall health. This is my passion since I know first hand that providing our cells with the nourishment and supportive lifestyle they need will allow our bodies to thrive. You could read my personal transformation here.
 
I want to share some thoughts about the connection between gums and health.
 
Do you have gum disease?
 
If your gums bleed sometimes, you most likely have a form of gum disease called gingivitis. This is an infection; it involves inflammation and bacteria. Often, this infection can travel under the gums and into the jawbone surrounding the roots of your teeth, which transforms into a more advanced stage called periodontitis.
 
Gum disease can give you bad breath, loose teeth, tenderness in the gum tissues, gum recession, and root sensitivity. It also can participate in spreading infection throughout your body. Unfortunately, as the disease progresses, your occasional bleeding gums might go away, causing you to believe that this disease is not a problem any longer. Don’t become misled. Often this infection has moved deeper under the gums and into the bone around your teeth, slowly destroying your jawbone. The bleeding has stopped, but the infection is worse. And, it may not cause pain until the teeth are ready to fall out.
 
But, be aware that bleeding or sore gums might be something other than gum disease. The mouth mirrors many of the internal functions and malfunctions of the entire body. Sometimes, both a dental as well as a medical evaluation are necessary to determine if you have gum disease or something totally different.
 
What can you do about gum disease?
 
You need to be cleaning your mouth properly. A well-trained dental hygienist can demonstrate what you need to do if you need some help. I find that most people will benefit by brushing with an electric toothbrush that efficiently cleans the bacterial film from around much of the tooth. It is also important for you to clean between the teeth with floss and a small brush that is designed to clean the in-between spaces as a bottle brush would clean the inside of a baby’s bottle. Brushing is all about removing the bacterial film (called dental plaque) from the surfaces of the teeth. When it comes to toothpaste, my recommendation is organic coconut oil and baking soda.
 
For most people, I recommend the following for effective tooth cleaning:

  • Have a small jar of coconut oil and baking soda in your bathroom. Coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties; baking soda has very low abrasiveness and helps maintain a healthy pH level in your mouth. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts at 76 degrees F.
  • Dip your toothbrush bristles into some coconut oil, and then dip them into some baking soda. I like an electric toothbrush because it is more efficient than a regular manual toothbrush. I find that the electric toothbrushes that sit in a cradle that charge from an electrical outlet in the wall are much more effective than battery-operated brushes, which don’t seem to have much torque.
  • Next, place the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle into the gum margin where the gums meet the teeth. The baking soda will make the toothpaste taste salty.
  • Turn the brush “on”, close your lips to keep the drool and splatter in your mouth and not all over the bathroom wall and mirror, and let the electric toothbrush do all the wiggling. Just move the brush from one side of your mouth to the other staying in the gum margins. Be sure to clean all the outside surfaces facing the cheeks and lips and then all the inside surfaces facing the roof of your mouth and your tongue.
  • You also want to clean the in-between surfaces of your teeth. Floss is good, but I also like a tiny brush that fits between the teeth. Think about how you would clean the inside of a baby bottle. These little interdental brushes are soft, and they gently remove the soft bacteria sticking to the tooth surfaces between the teeth as you slide the brush in and out between these teeth.

 
The bacteria, which are major factors causing this infection, also can harden around the teeth and under the gums. A dentist or a dental hygienist can gently remove these deposits called tartar that are like barnacles that form on a boat’s bottom as it sits in the water. Tartar irritates the gum tissues like a splinter in your finger would irritate the surrounding skin until it was removed.
 
To understand what is going on with your gums, you should make an appointment with a gum specialist (periodontist) like myself. A periodontist could help you learn how this infection might be spreading in your body and how it might be arrested and healed.
 
Gum health and overall health
 
Gum health is not only about brushing and flossing. While most dental offices will never address nutrition in depth, I believe nutrient-dense nourishment is a critical component for a healthy mouth and a healthy body. The refined carbohydrates (like breads, cereals, processed foods, sugars) that you consume can increase bad bacteria in your gut. Then, unhealthy bacteria from your gut can affect the bacteria in your mouth by way of your saliva. These unhealthy bacteria have a negative effect on overall health as well as mouth health. Infection-causing bacteria forming in your mouth feed off of the refined carbohydrates you consume to cause gum disease and tooth decay – a vicious cycle.
 
This cycle needs to be broken. The ways to a healthy mouth and a healthy body must start with individual cell health. And, the only way a cell can get healthy is with proper nutrients and the removal of any irritants. You need to remove the bad and replace it with the good. From a mouth perspective, it means removing the soft bacteria and the tartar from around the teeth. From a nutrition standpoint, it means eating nutrient-dense foods and removing the unhealthy carbohydrates. From an overall perspective, it also means obtaining restorative sleep, effective exercise, and stress reduction.
 
If you would like, you could schedule a phone consultation with me. You would fill out a Questionnaire and a 3-Day Food Journal (both are on my Website), then send them to me by FAX or online. If you would prefer, you could mail them to my Post Office Box listed at the bottom of this page. I will review them and call you by phone or Skype to discuss your issues. I am here to help if you feel the need.
 
I see patients in my office located in Bluffton, SC (843-593-8123). The way I treat advanced gum disease is by incorporating a laser procedure called LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) with Primal Nutrition and Lifestyle concepts. Positive lifestyle changes can make all the difference as they assist cells around the teeth as well as cells throughout the entire body in healing.

What You Don’t Know Could Harm You

evolution rHave you ever…

  • kissed a person with gum disease? Then you know how it tastes.
  • spoken to a person with gum disease? Then you know how it smells.
  • seen a person smile who has red or swollen gums? Then you know how it looks.

 
Surprising as it may sound, many people with gum disease frequently do not know they have it until the late stages of destruction. Even when it comes to general infection and inflammation in the body, the majority of people don’t know they have them.
 
Let’s talk specifically about the mouth. The sad part is that the majority of individuals only realize they have a problem after their workplace buddies, or friends, or partners start to avoid being close to them. Others only may know that they have a problem after their teeth start to get loose and fall out. Damage that occurs on a cellular level anywhere in the body also affects the entire human complexity, of which the mouth is an intricate part. The mouth is often viewed by the general public as remote from the inner workings of the human body. Yet, the mouth may be the first area where systemic and chronic diseases manifest.
 
As a periodontist for 41 years, the mouth has been my professional area of expertise. The mouth is the portal to the entire human body and all of its inner workings.
 
Obviously, our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes and did not see a dentist every 6 months, but they had relatively healthy mouths. They hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. Today, many people see a dentist every 6 months and also brush and floss daily, but some still have gum disease. Could it be that what we have learned to believe may not be so? Mark Twain put it so clearly: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”
 
Oral health, as well as overall health, is critically dependent on four basic concepts or pillars. If any one of these is not functioning properly, then our body can become jeopardized. Unfortunately, we may not be aware if one of these pillars is out of kilter. The pillars of health include:

  • A nutrient-dense diet feeding our cells and promoting healthy gut bacteria
  • Efficient exercise
  • Restorative sleep
  • Reduction in all forms of stresses and toxins on and in our body

 
A study published in 2012 showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the United States had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans), and an astounding 70.1% of those over the age of 65 had this disease.
 
Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis, which is inflammation only in the gum tissue. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body.
 
“This is the most accurate picture of periodontal disease in the U.S. adult population we have ever had,” said Pamela McClain, DDS, and President of the American Academy of Periodontology at the time of the paper’s publication. “For the first time, we now have a precise measure of the prevalence of periodontal disease, and can better understand the true severity and extent of periodontal disease in our country.”
 
So, if you have gum disease, you are not alone. If you have this infection in your mouth, you most likely have chronic inflammation in other areas of your body. Whatever happens on a cellular level anywhere in the body frequently will manifest in other organ systems as chronic disease. Gum disease is another type of chronic disease related to the nourishment we provide our bodies and the lifestyle we lead.
 
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has made specific statements of the prevalence of other forms of chronic disease in the US today.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—have one or more chronic health conditions. One of four adults has two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2009–2010, more than one-third of adults, or about 78 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). Nearly one of five youths aged 2–19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

 
As I suggested, gum disease is a chronic disease. Embracing a healthy eating lifestyle is congruent with adopting a Primal or Paleo Lifestyle. Eating a nutrient-dense diet, which is one of my four pillars of health, will support a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body. A recently published article confirms that this way of eating can also reverse the risks of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, and increased fat tissue around the waist), which leads to various life-threatening diseases. Here   Here  and Here
 
So, what should you do if you think you may have gum disease?

  • You should see your dentist or a periodontist to have a thorough periodontal examination to determine if you have a condition that requires treatment.

 
Much of what you do personally to clean your mouth properly and to eat healthy will assist in preventing gum disease as well as other chronic diseases in the future.