Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS February 21, 2016
I 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.