What To Do About Your Gum Disease?

evolution rPeriodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that destroys the gum as well as the bone supporting the roots of teeth. It is the manifestation of a disease process where specific virulent bacteria are creating inflammation and byproducts that are destructive. These bacteria have gained dominance in the mouth because of various reasons.
 
One reason might be the unhealthy food choices that have affected the unhealthy gut bacteria to become overgrown and to affect the entire body. Another reason might be damage to the gut lining allowing undigested proteins to leak into the bloodstream causing chronic inflammation and autoimmune issues. Still another reason might be that necessary micronutrients that our individual cells require to maintain healthy function are lacking in the foods we eat. While all these might be contributing factors, there still is a virulent strain of bacteria in the mouth creating havoc. What can be done?
 
Technology today has significantly improved the comfort for the patient and the healing results. The LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) protocol using the PerioLase® Laser effectively will destroy these harmful bacteria without harming healthy gum, tooth, or bone tissues. It also will assist the jawbone surrounding the teeth to repair and regenerate. There is no cutting with a scalpel and no sutures. Patients generally return to their normal routines the next day. You will find several research articles on LANAP here.
 
For long-term control and prevention, good oral hygiene and healthy food choices are critical. Eliminating the offending foods that started the problem in the first place will go a long way in preventing disease in the future. Eating the foods that can support the health of individual cells is just as important. As I have indicated in previous blogs, our primal ancestors hardly ever had gum disease. In addition, today’s hunter-gatherer societies around the world who have never consumed these modern-day processed foods are relatively free of gum disease as well as the types of chronic diseases plaguing most westernized societies.
 
Research has shown that xylitol, a sugar alcohol derived from the bark of birch trees, not only can help to prevent tooth decay but also may be able to turn off the biochemical processes that allow this virulent bacteria to cause destruction of the gum and bone tissues around the teeth. Using xylitol while brushing the teeth might help to calm down this disease process in the future. Some xylitol is manufactured from corn products. I recommend xylitol that is made from birch trees.
 
I completed a study in my offices with several of my patients that had active advanced gum disease to determine if specific nutrient-dense food supplements would improve their infection. The results have been positive, and you can read them here.
 
So, a good program that could eliminate advanced gum disease and prevent its return might include:
 
• Destroying the offending bacteria that are causing the disease and assisting the body in regeneration through the treatment of the LANAP protocol
 
• Eating a Paleolithic-type diet, which avoids the unhealthy foods and replaces them with healthy ones
 
• Performing good oral hygiene daily that might include the use of xylitol, and consuming specific nutrient-dense food supplements
 

What Went Wrong?

evolution rIf our primal ancestors ate nutrient-dense foods that allowed them to thrive with no gum disease or tooth decay, then what went wrong? Today there is a 47% prevalence of periodontitis among adults in the United States. Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease where not only the gums are infected, but also the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are infected and breaking down. For those who are over 65 years old, the prevalence of periodontitis jumps to 70%. When and why did the prevalence of gum disease go from almost 0% to 70%?
 
It didn’t happen in one day. It was progressive and cumulative.
 
The major change began with the emergence of civilization. Civilization allowed peoples to come together. Civilization brought many good things to humans – protection from the elements and protection from their enemies. Societies developed farming and agriculture, which brought an abundance of foods like grains to feed the masses. The timeline was about 10,000 years ago.
 
Unfortunately, some of the cultivated foods were processed into dense, acellular carbohydrates, which were concentrated (or dense) carbohydrates that had their cell walls broken down and removed. These were lacking in nutrients. In time, these acellular carbohydrates began replacing many nutrient-dense foods that used to be the dominant makeup of the human diet.
 
Healthy carbohydrates are contained in the living cells of plants. When these plants are normally cooked, the cell-to-cell links are broken down, but the cell walls that contain the healthy carbohydrates are not destroyed. When healthy plants are ingested, the body’s digestive system breaks down their cell walls and metabolizes their contents.
 
Dense acellular carbohydrates do not occur naturally in nature.
 
Two of the most powerful ways humans created dense acellular carbohydrates were to isolate and concentrate sugars from plants, and to grind dense seeds into highly compacted flour. In both cases, heat and pressure would destroy the original food’s cell walls, resulting in dense carbohydrates. These carbohydrates were dead. They did not spoil over time like healthy, cellular carbohydrates would spoil. The resulting flour and sugars were dense, acellular carbohydrates that caused unhealthy changes in the body.
 
There is a progression of damage that occurs when we eat dense acellular carbs. The lack of essential nutrients in these foods will starve the body’s cells of what they need to thrive. The acellular carbohydrates not only lead to unhealthy bacterial changes in the mouth and gut but also affect the lining of the gut.
 
Once the gut lining is damaged, harmful bacterial byproducts (called lipopolysaccharides or LPS) and undigested food particles can leak into the bloodstream. Our immune system reacts to these invaders into the bloodstream and creates cascading events of inflammation, which are highly destructive to many functions of the body. Chronic inflammation leads to increases in degenerative diseases of the whole body.
 
It was once believed that periodontal disease caused systemic diseases. However, the American Heart Association made a statement that there was no evidence indicating a causal link between periodontal disease and heart disease. The AHA suggested independent factors were causing both periodontal disease and heart disease.
 
Science now knows that the frequent ingestion of high-density, acellular carbohydrates in flour and sugar products (1) creates a growth of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth and gut, (2) damages the cellular lining of the gut, and (3) produces deficiencies in micronutrients. These unhealthy carbs most likely could be the real root cause of periodontal disease, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic diseases of modern humans.
 
Hunter-gatherer populations today eat unprocessed foods, and these societies can thrive on a wide variety of macronutrient ratios (ratios relating fat to protein to carbohydrate), ranging from equatorial tribes like the Kitava of Papua, New Guinea, who consume 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, all the way to the !Kung in Africa’s Kalahari Desert who eat large quantities of nuts that are 60 percent fat. What neither of these tribes consumes are carbohydrate-dense, acellular foods. These societies rarely have degenerative diseases or tooth decay or gum disease that plague most modern people today.
 
Q: What went wrong?
A: Our food supply became dominated with dense, acellular carbohydrates that have led to unforeseen damage in the human body.
 

Why the Tooth Fairy Gave Up Grains:
A Whimsical Tale

evolution rYou may think you know all about tooth fairies. As you know, they discreetly appear at night to exchange your child’s baby tooth, that’s tucked away under his or her pillow, for little trinkets. They flutter about with their cute big eyes and their huge smiles and their soft, silky wings. But what you probably didn’t know was that these precious little busy bees have been around for a long time. As a matter of fact, they have been around for tens of thousands of years.

 

These tooth fairies knew of a time when little boys and little girls hardly ever got tooth decay. In those days, mommies and daddies worked hard gathering and hunting food. The children ate all the good, nutritious foods that their parents brought to the table. Bodies were strong and lean, and teeth were white and straight. Adult teeth lasted a lifetime, as they were designed to do. But then, something changed, but the fairies didn’t realize it until much later.

 

About 10,000 years ago, certain foods were cultivated that slowly became part of almost everyone’s diet. The fairies didn’t think any harm was going to come from these new foods. But it did. In time, these foods started to damage the teeth of children and adults. All of a sudden, it seemed like many people started to develop toothaches and loose teeth and holes in their teeth. The fairies finally learned that something was wrong with these new foods. They learned that these foods – these grains – were the cause of the dental problems and other health problems that were beginning to plague humans.

 

Then, refined sugars became part of most human’s diets. And then, the fairies understood that these sugars added to the problems from grains. The fairies made a pledge to give up these grains and sugars and to try to tell everybody that these were not healthy foods.

 

The way the fairies used to eat, and the way humans used to eat before grains became so much a part of the diet, was the healthy way to eat. So the fairies became focused on a mission – to tell the world that grains and sugars needed to be avoided in order to regain dental health and overall health. You see, our bodies were never designed to eat these modern day foods. Our guts just couldn’t fully digest them, and these foods eventually upset our delicate balance. It took a long time for the fairies to realize that so many chronic problems were caused by these “foods”.

 

So, the fairies gave up grains and sugars and started to teach the world to be a healthier place. Most importantly, the fairies wanted to teach the children, whom they were meant to protect, to eat healthy.

 

To create healthy meals for your children, consider leaving grains and added-sugars out, and replacing them with healthy meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and various spices. It is important to include leafy green vegetables at every meal. The foods hunter-gatherers ate for thousands and thousands of years are the foods that will allow healthy bodies of all ages to survive and thrive today. These food choices are part of a Paleo Lifestyle. A great book that describes the Paleolithic lifestyle is The Primal Blueprint Updated and Expanded (2012) by Mark Sisson.

 

Here are some of my favorite family books to help you design exciting food options for your kids as well as yourselves:

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans, Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, 2013
Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go, Diana Rodgers, 2013
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach…, Diane Sanfilippo, et al, 2012
The Paleo Primer, Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore, 2013

 

Next time I’ll post some of my favorite recipes. Here are a few that I will post:

• Yummy and Oh-So-Healthy Smoothie
• Cracklin’ Italian-spiced Chicken Thighs
• No-Oat Oatmeal
• Plantain Pancakes
• Wild Caught Salmon Baked in Parchment Paper
• Homemade Ghee the Easy Way

What Would Happen If….?

evolution rImagine an animal in the wild – a cute, cuddly little thing. And let’s say this animal was living 200,000 years ago. In order for this animal to survive and thrive, it needed to chew its food to get the necessary nutrients into its body. As this animal was growing up, something was happening. Its teeth began to decay, and its gums started to bleed. Soon, this fury guy started to have pain when he chewed his food, and eventually his teeth started to get loose. Then his teeth began to rot and fall out. And this was happening not only to him but also to most of his brothers and sisters and their offspring. What do you think would happen over time to this animal species?

The answer is that this species would eventually die off because it could not survive without its teeth to chew the food to get the nutrients that were critical for life.

As a matter of fact, primal man and woman hardly ever had tooth decay or gum disease during the 2.5 million years of evolution. Our evolutionary ancestors ate a nutrient-dense diet and had healthy gut bacteria that allowed their teeth to stay healthy. Then things changed about 10,000 years ago.

As grains become a staple part of our diets, our overall health declined. Today, the Standard American Diet consists of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, lots of sugar, and a variety of processed foods. However, not everybody eats this way.

There are people living today in isolated parts of the world as hunter-gatherers. They eat the food that their natural environments provide. They never have been exposed to the Standard American Diet, and they do not have tooth decay or various degenerative diseases that plague most of the world’s modern population. Unfortunately, when some of these people leave their native surroundings and start eating unhealthy diets in the “Western” world, their health begins to decline rapidly.

The solutions are learning and believing what nutrient-dense food and healthy gut bacteria are all about as well as yielding to the needs of our individual cells.