5 Steps to a Healthy Smile

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist
January 7, 2019

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Your SMILE speaks volumes about YOU! In this article, I outline my five steps to assure a healthy smile.

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Your smile shows your emotions and speaks about your health. Books have been written describing what your smile means. For example, if you search on Amazon[1], there are over 430 books written on the topic of a “Healthy Smile”.

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Look at your smile in the mirror. Your smile is just a curtain that opens to your mouth. Raise the curtain, and on the other side of your lips is an environment that affects the teeth, the gums, the lips, the breath – even the entire body.

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In health, this oral environment is in a state of balance. The huge community of living organisms in your mouth play a critical role in health as well as in disease.[2],[3] This community can affect the health of your beautiful smile.

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The Science of a Healthy Mouth

A healthy oral microbiome is made up of viruses, fungi, archaea, protozoa, and bacteria. The far majority of this healthy garden of microbes is bacteria. Researchers have discovered over 700 different species of bacteria, which can make up a healthy oral microbiome. An individual on average may harbor 100-200 of these individual species of bacteria.

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A healthy gut microbiome not only supports a strong immune system but also maintains a beneficial balance of these numerous types of living creatures in the mouth. In a balanced state, these oral microbes provide many functions that keep your mouth healthy. This garden of microbes prevents harmful bacteria from taking hold and causing disease. In addition, they help down-regulate pro-inflammatory responses to beneficial bacteria. The oral microbiome helps in the early digestion of food and supports the healthy production of nitric acid throughout your body.

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The plaque around the teeth is a healthy biofilm of microbes that protects teeth and gum tissues. Dental plaque prevents pathological species from overgrowing, controls the proper acid level around the teeth, and allows beneficial nutrients to pass from the saliva to the tooth surface.

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Saliva is another important element for a healthy mouth. A healthy flow of saliva washes away unhealthy clumps of bacteria and helps buffer a beneficial acid level.

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The Science of an Unhealthy Mouth

When there is an overabundance of pathologic species of bacteria in the gut, the immune system is compromised, and the oral microbiome becomes disturbed and unbalanced. Specific foods can increase the acid level in the mouth and can provide sugars that feed pathologic species of bacteria. A decrease in saliva flow also can cause unhealthy growth of bacteria. Pathologic species in the mouth begin to overtake the healthy types of bacteria, and diseases can manifest. A change in the homeostasis of a healthy oral microbiome can begin the process of tooth decay, periodontal diseases, and soft tissue lesions.

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Your smile eventually may be affected by an unhealthy mouth. Oral diseases can cause ulcers, cracks, and other lesions on the surface and corners of your lips.

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5 Steps to a Healthy Smile

Practically speaking, there are ways to assure a healthy smile. A healthy and attractive smile depends on a healthy mouth. Here are five ideas to maintain a healthy smile:

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  1. Nutrient-rich diet: Exclude processed foods containing chemicals, added sugars, and unhealthy and unstable fats. Reduce or eliminate acid drinks like sodas. Include pastured and wild caught animal products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.x
  2. Proper airway space: Be sure your dentist is trained to evaluate your bite and the proper function of your tongue position for breathing and swallowing.x
  3. Efficient oral hygiene: Brush efficiently at the gum line, clean between the surfaces of all teeth, and remove unhealthy clumps of bacteria on the surface of your tongue.[4]x
  4. Strong and healthy gut bacteria: Support the quantity and quality of the gut microbiome by taking spore-based probiotics (ex: Megasporebiotic[5], Terraflora[6]) and prebiotic fiber foods (ex: Megaprebiotic[7], PaleoFiber[8]), which feed healthy gut bacteria.x
  5. Biologically-oriented dental visits: Visit a dentist who understands the critical relationships of the gut, diet, lifestyle, and the health of your mouth. 

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[1] https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=healthy+smile&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Ahealthy+smile

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[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28266108

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[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=in+sickness+and+in+health+-+what+does+the+oral+microbiome+mean+to+us

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[4] https://drdanenberg.staging.wpengine.com/how-should-you-clean-your-teeth-let-me-count-the-ways/

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[5] https://microbiomelabs.com/products/megasporebiotic/

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[6] https://www.enviromedica.com/terraflora/

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[7] https://microbiomelabs.com/products/megaprebiotic/

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[8] https://catalog.designsforhealth.com/PaleoFiber-Powder-Unflavored?quantity=1#PaleoFiber-Powder-Unflavored

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Crazy-Good Living

A Chat With …
Dr. Alvin Danenberg & Dr. Steven Lin

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS  Nutritional Periodontist
January 22, 2018

 

 

 

Dental Nutrition, The Oral Microbiome, Vitamin K2, and the Gut w/ Dr. Al Danenberg from Steven Lin on Vimeo.

 

Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist from Australia. He is “setting the world on fire” with his fresh take on diet and dental disease. He wrote an excellent book, The Dental Diet, that was released in early January of this year. His book is much more than a diet book. Get the book; you will love it.

 

Steven and I have been sharing our thoughts and knowledge for over a year. We had a chat via Skype last Thursday. We talked about all kinds of things. It was like a fireside chat.  The major theme was how the gums may be the first warning sign of inflammation occurring in the rest of the body. Also, we talked about brushing and flossing, Vitamin K2, gums and the microbiome, and why bleeding gums and gum disease may have a common source – your gut.

 

Spend about 34 minutes, and watch us talk about “curing the world”.

 

 

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Crazy-Good Living

 

Eat Better – Live Better – Feel Better
(Part 3 of 3)

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     May 7, 2016  


 
 
     
 

Eat Better - Live Better - Feel BetterIn Part 1, I described how acute inflammation could develop into chronic inflammation. In Part 2, I discussed the damaging effects of chronic inflammation.

 
Now it’s time to make a difference and be proactive. My goal is to help you bring chronic inflammation to its knees.

 

The methods to reduce chronic inflammation in the body include an anti-inflammatory diet and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Results are not going to happen by taking a pill to solve the problem. It will take repeated and significant efforts on your part. But, your personal benefits will be life changing.

 
1. Human cells and gut bacteria must be kept happy. They must be fed what they require.

 
Nourishment with nutrient-dense foods is the answer. These include animal products from nose to tail. Animals should be pastured or wild caught and allowed to eat their natural diet. They should not be fed foods that have been genetically modified or contaminated with any chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. Other nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

 
Three foods that are not on everyone’s radar are: (1) sea vegetables (seaweeds), which are unusual vegetables that offer significant nutrient density; (2) liver, which contains nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere in such concentration, and (3) fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, all of which are loaded with live cultures of good bacteria for the gut.

 
In addition, fiber from vegetables and fruits support the growth and function of healthy bacteria in the gut.

 
2. The gut lining must be kept intact. Anything that could damage this lining or the healthy balance of microbes must be eliminated.

 
Some of the unhealthy substances that are damaging to the healthy balance of flora in the gut and to the delicate gut lining are:

  • Processed grains
  • Processed sugars
  • Processed food products that have unhealthy ingredients (including added sugars, unhealthy fats, chemicals, preservatives, food coloring, etc.)
  • Legumes in general (some legumes can be soaked and cooked properly to make them less of a problem)
  • Unhealthy fats (including man-made trans fats and any partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats) as well as excessive omega 6 fatty acids from processed vegetable oils (including corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc.)
  • Pasteurized and homogenized milk and milk products from cows that have been grain fed
  • Continued bouts of antibiotic treatment and other toxic substances

 

3. Specific lifestyle habits are necessary to support the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation.

 
Stress Reduction is a difficult goal. We live in a society where external stresses and self-imposed stresses are a part of daily life. This is one area where I have much work to do personally. Here is an example where stress alone caused severe damage in the mouth.

 
Whatever excuses you may have, the reduction of most stress is in your power. Stress reduction is essential for health. Ways to reduce stress include:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Advice from a qualified mental healthcare provider

 

Restorative Sleep is the way your body reconditions itself. It means obtaining 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It should be in a quiet, cool, and dark environment to be most beneficial.

 
Effective Exercise includes the correct amount and correct intensity of aerobic and anaerobic sessions that are customized for your body. Also, non-exercise movements are biologically necessary including walking and standing rather than sitting at a desk most of the day. Excessive exercise as well as a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to chronic inflammation.

 
4. Vitamin D from the sun is an important ingredient to maintain health and reduce inflammation.

 
Vitamin D has been shown to be vital in many normal biological functions in the body. The best source is proper exposure to sunlight. An excellent app to determine how much sun you may require based on where you live, the time of year, your age, your skin color, the amount of clothing you wear, etc. is called D Minder.

 
Other natural sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, wild caught fatty fish, pastured egg yolks, and grass fed butter.

 
One way to determine how much vitamin D is in your blood is to have your healthcare professional order a blood test called 25-Hydroxy Vit D Test.

 
There are supplements of vitamin D3 you could consume. However, you need to have vitamin K2 as well as Vitamin A in your diet for these supplements to work properly throughout your body.

 

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So, that does it. Eat better; feel better; live better. The Holy Grail for health seems to be (1) giving your body what it needs and (2) removing from your body what it does not need. Easier said than done, but definitely doable. At 69 years of age, I am a living example of how I transformed my life with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Read my story.

 

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What’s Up With Stinky Breath?
5 Things To Do

evolution rBad breath stinks, and nobody wants stinky breath. But, everybody has had stinky breath or halitosis at times. You may not know that you have stinky breath, but people that come close to you will know. So, what causes it, and what can you do about it? I am going to tell you.
 
Documentation of bad breath dates back to 1550 BC when the ancient Egyptians inscribed in the Ebers Papyrus (an ancient Egyptian medical document) how to use tablets made from cinnamon, myrrh, and honey to fight bad breath. Unfortunately today, most people still try to mask the odor but never address the actual causes.
 
Certain bacteria, certain foods, lack of saliva or dry mouth, infections either in the mouth or elsewhere in the body, or stress may cause bad breath. But, the fact is, if you could correct the causes, then your stinky breath would no longer be an annoying problem.
 
The first major source of halitosis is the mouth, where 90% of all bad breath originates. 80%-90% of this odor from the mouth originates on the back of the upper side of the tongue. This is where many bacteria reside, and where they break down dead cells and food particles to form stinky breath.
 
The next likely place in the mouth for bad breath is located in the crevices where the gum surrounds the necks of teeth and in spaces between the teeth. Bacteria that cause bad breath can accumulate in these hidden places, but more importantly they can cause gum disease, which can contribute to even worse stinky breath.
 
Other less common sources creating bad breath in the mouth may originate from dental decay; poorly fitting dental work; abscesses and other mouth infections; tobacco; alcohol; dry mouth frequently as a result of some medications; and volatile foodstuffs like onion, garlic, cabbage, and cauliflower.
 
The second major source of bad breath is from the nose. This is usually caused by sinus infections and post-nasal drip.
 
Another source of halitosis can be the odors produced from the metabolism of volatile foodstuffs, which are eventually expelled through the lungs as well as the skin.
 
Less frequent sources of bad breath are infected tonsils, liver and kidney diseases, carcinoma, lung infections, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.
 
A likely source that is actively being investigated through peer-reviewed research is the gut bacteria. Healthy bacteria in the gut can be damaged by specific foods, medications, and stress, all of which in turn can affect the bacteria throughout the body. These unhealthy changes in the gut can affect the healthy bacteria in the saliva, which then can change the bacteria in the mouth. Here and Here
 
So, what can you do? Here are 5 solutions:

  • Brush your tongue. An effective way is to use a teaspoon. Place the inverted teaspoon as far back as is comfortable on the upper side of your tongue. Then, gently glide the teaspoon forward, removing the bacterial film and microscopic food particles. Repeat this 2-3 times, and then wash off the teaspoon. Perform this tongue-cleaning method in the morning and then in the evening before bed. If you want to spend your money, here are some tongue-cleaning gadgets on Amazon. Also, here is a link from my friend William Revak of OraWellness.com to his video from his website that demonstrates tongue brushing.
  • Brush and floss your teeth correctly. This will remove the film of bacteria called dental plaque from around the gum line. Here is my blog on how to do this.
  • Have regular dental checkups to make sure your oral health is up to par, and have professional cleanings at your dentist’s office to remove any tartar from under the gum tissues.
  • Eat a Paleo-type diet to improve the health of both the microbes in your gut and also the lining of your gut. The fiber in veggies that dominate a Paleo-type diet will feed the good bacteria of the colon.
  • Eat live-culture fermented foods every day like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir to improve the composition of the good bacteria in your gut.

 
What you don’t want to do is to try to kill off bacteria indiscriminately. Invariably, you may destroy some of the offending bacteria, but you will destroy many healthy microbes thus creating a more serious health problem. Mouthwashes are not the remedy. On the other hand, if you attacked the real causes of stinky breath and not just tried to mask bad odors, you could resolve these issues, and your breath would smell significantly better. You will be happy; your closest friends will be happier; and your partner will be ecstatic!

 

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My Gums are Bleeding and Sore

evolution rAbout a year ago I was asked to evaluate a patient who had bleeding gums, which was not responding to daily, good oral hygiene and had not responded to a deep cleaning by the hygienist in his dentist’s office.
 
This was a 71-year old gentleman who had ongoing gum issues for over 3 years. When I spoke to him, he did not complain of pain all the time, but he explained that his gums would bleed when he brushed his teeth and were a little sore. He wanted a quick fix like an antibiotic.
 
I told him we first needed to rule out infections and any blood diseases including serious diseases like cancers. As I questioned him, he told me that he had bouts of diarrhea and bloating. He also complained of acid reflux disease for which his medical doctor put him on an acid-reducing prescription. When I questioned him about his eating habits, he told me he had a healthy bowl of oatmeal every morning and usually some pasta dish with dinner. I suggested that some of his problem could come from the grains that he was eating.
 
He immediately dismissed my idea because he had been eating this way his entire life, and that obviously could not be at the cause of his gum sores. He left my office to seek other opinions.
 
Then several months later, I saw him again. He had seen an oral surgeon and then his own medical doctor who put him on anti-inflammatory prescription drugs. These meds did not resolve his bleeding gums. He finally allowed me to make my suggestions.
 
I had him fill out a 3-day food journal listing everything he ate. He also had to write down the frequency of his bowel movements and any exercise he participated in during these three days. When I reviewed his journal with him, we discovered he was eating some type of grain product with every meal as well as every snack. He also realized that he was eating very few green vegetables. Most of his drinks were laden with sugar.
 
I had him promise to do an experiment for 30 days. Since he had been suffering with bleeding, sore gums for several years, to experiment on himself for 30 days would not be too much to ask of him. He agreed, and here is what I recommended:
 
• Eliminate all grains – I described the foods that had grains and grain products, which had to be eliminated. I also gave him a list of foods that could be substituted for these grains and snacks. I even included some of my favorite recipes.
 
• Eliminate all sugary drinks – I recommended various drinks including regular water that he should be drinking.
 
• I suggested that he begin to take a nutrient-dense supplement of fermented cod liver oil capsules as well as organic kelp powder capsules every day. I gave him resources online where he could purchase them.
 
• I explained the benefits of coconut oil as an excellent mouthwash. He would place about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil in is mouth and swish. At the end of 10 minutes, he would spit it out and rinse with water. He could do that several times a day if he wanted.
 
• Then, at the end of 30 days, he and I would get back together to see what happened.
 
To his astonishment, his bleeding gums were significantly better after 30 days – not healed yet, but much better. My further discussions with him were to include improving the bacteria in his gut and continuing to modify his diet to remove all offending items and replace what needed to be there. If necessary at a later date, I would suggest some functional testing to delve into specific cellular problems.
 

What Skeletons Can Teach Us

evolution rI remember going to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC as a child. My favorite exhibits were the dinosaurs. I was in awe with the age of these beasts. Skeletons told a fascinating story to me as a child.
 
Today, skeletons still tell the story.
 
Human evolution dates back about 2.5 million years. During that period of time, our bodies slowly adapted to our environment and the foods that were available to us for nutrition. Our bodies developed a method of using nutrients for our growth and survival. It took 2.5 million years for our cells and organs to slowly evolve.
 
Human skeletal remains recently have been discovered in Spain dating back about 400,000 years. Today, DNA testing can actually look at dental remains and determine what types of bacteria existed in the mouths of these people. We now can determine how healthy our evolutionary ancestors were. Science is amazing!
 
The DNA taken from teeth of skeletons dating about 20,000 to 10,000 years ago showed bacteria that were not virulent. In other words, our primal ancestors rarely demonstrated tooth decay or gum disease. Then, from about 10,000 years ago (when grains were introduced into our diets) until about 150 years ago, the DNA became unhealthy, and decay and gum disease began to become the norm. Then, 150 years ago (when flour and sugar became a staple of our diets) the bacteria went crazy causing lots of decay and gum disease.
 
What was happening was the good gut bacteria that our species developed during 2.5 million years of evolution slowly began to change to unhealthy types because of the insult from these unnatural foods. Unfriendly bacteria began to breakdown our intestinal cells. Food particles and bacteria that were never supposed to leak into our blood system began invading our bodies. Today, our bodies have not had time to evolve to compensate for these rapid insults. Degenerative diseases that were never part of the human experience began to emerge.
 
Today, genetically modified foods that never have been tested over time in humans also have negatively affected our gut bacteria. In addition, toxic additives in processed foods have been accumulating in our bodies contributing to our problems. We are living longer with decreasing quality of life. Unhealthy gut bacteria and associated gut disorders have been implicated in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ADHD in children, gastrointestinal diseases, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and on and on. And, our mouths are paying the price.
 
So what can we do today to get ourselves back in shape? We need to look at evolution and how our bodies were designed to function and thrive. We must work in concert with the needs of our bodies.
 
From a dental standpoint, brushing and flossing are important, but healthy food choices and friendly gut bacteria are more important. We should eat the foods that give us nutrition and not destroy our bodily systems. We need to repopulate our gut bacteria with friendly types that can ward off disease and maintain a healthy intestinal environment.
 
We also need to occasionally exercise our muscles hard, to sleep 7-8 hours a night, and to deal with life’s stresses more effectively. But, that is another discussion for another time.