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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Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts

evolution rA friend of mine is an avid workout guy – at least an hour a day, 5 days a week. He also eats non-fat foods and lots of whole grain cereals and grain products. He tells me he is eating healthy. I recently told him about ancestral nutrition, effective exercise, and their relationship to overall health. He not only blew me off, but he was angry that I tried to confuse him. In my opinion, he actually was upset because I gave him information that conflicted with his personal beliefs and challenged who he really is. I could only say I was sorry – sorry that he wouldn’t consider my point of view.
 
There is much evidence-based research today that has created a path for the discerning person to follow to regain and maintain the health that the human body was designed to possess. My friend was not that person, but are you that discerning person? If yes, then the path starts with you making a decision to change your life – to change your health.
 
Some people need a personal tipping point like a stroke or a heart attack to make a change. Some people need a love-of-their-life like the birth of a granddaughter or a grandson to institute a change. Some people are motivated after they get a new job or move into a new home. Some people only need information that they never knew existed. Which discerning person are you?
 
Here is some conventional wisdom that I have found in my personal pursuit of health that requires further consideration:
 
• Fat makes you fat
 
Consider this: Carbohydrates make you fat because of excessive insulin production. Healthy fats satisfy your hunger and provide fuel. Ingested fat will not become storage fat unless insulin is excessive from too many carbs.
 
• Running 5 miles a day is good heart exercise
 
Consider this: Chronic exercise produces oxidative stress, is unhealthy for the cardiovascular system, and discourages fat burning. Lifting heavy things a couple of times a week and sprinting once a week are much healthier for your heart as well as your waistline and need only take 10-20 minutes each. In addition, a couple of hours of aerobic exercise spaced out during the week and physical non-exercise movement throughout each day will round out a healthy routine.
 
• Breakfast is the healthiest meal of the day
 
Consider this: The most important time to eat is when you are hungry. If your hormones are in balance, you may actually not need to eat until noon or later. When you do eat, each meal conceptually should be a plate of food partitioned like this: at least half of the plate should include non-starchy veggies either raw or sautéed in healthy fat; a quarter of the plate should be some type of free-range or wild-caught protein including their natural fats; and the last quarter could be made up of some of these – some nuts or seeds, deeply colored fruit (like berries or citrus), a small starchy vegetable.
 
• Whole grains have plenty of nutrients
 
Consider this: Grains contain elements that irritate the gut and interfere with normal absorption of necessary minerals. Grains were only introduced into the human diet about 10,000 years ago, and the human gut never evolved to digest them properly. For 2.5 million years before grains were introduced, all the necessary nutrients the body needed were provided by eating animals from head to tail, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
 
• Vegetable oils are healthy
 
Consider this: Vegetable oils are mostly inflammatory and are chemically unstable. When they are introduced into the body, they potentially create serious health problems. In addition, chemically altered trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats are toxic to the body. Saturated fats from coconut oil, avocados, animals that are pastured and/or allowed to eat their natural diet, and butter from grass-fed cows are necessary for healthy cell function.
 
• Artificial sweeteners are good for you and help you lose weight
 
Consider this: Artificial sweeteners are toxic to the body. In addition, the brain senses the sweetness of these sweeteners and stimulates insulin production.
 
• Eggs are bad for your heart
 
Consider this: Free-range eggs provide excellent nutrition for the body unless you are allergic to eggs. Some people who have reactions to convention eggs do not have problems with pastured eggs. The cholesterol in pastured eggs is not a problem – especially if the egg yolk is eaten soft rather than scrambled or hard-boiled.
 
• If your stomach does not hurt, you don’t have gut problems
 
Consider this: Many diseases begin when the intestinal lining becomes permeable (called a leaky gut), and stuff that should never enter the blood system starts invading. A person does not have to have digestive symptoms like gas or pain or constipation or diarrhea to have a leaky gut. But, before other disease manifestations can be resolved, the gut must be made healthy.