Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 31, 2022
We’ve talked at great length about your gut health being an indicator of chronic illness, but have you given much thought to what’s in your blood? Recent studies have shown that it’s not as sterile as we once believed! So, what does this mean for you?
What’s In Our Blood?
Our circulatory system contains microbes that were never believed to be there because old methods of culturing bacteria would not grow them. But recent DNA sequencing methods reveal that each milliliter of blood contains around 1,000 bacterial cells. These cells are dormant in the blood and can reside in healthy individuals. But they can be revived.
When iron is available in the blood, the dormant bacteria may be revived and can begin secreting lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS are molecules on the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria that stimulate the immune system which in turn creates inflammation. LPS is a highly toxic element. And systemic inflammation is a major initiating factor in the manifestation of practically all chronic diseases.
Researchers who published their study in 2016 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface stated, “We think bugs are involved in all these diseases”. They observed that the addition of tiny concentrations of bacterial LPS to both whole blood and platelet-poor plasma of normal, healthy donors led to marked changes in fibrin and caused progression of chronic inflammatory diseases.
The body normally keeps levels of free iron in the blood low to keep bacteria dormant and block their growth.
Another group of researchers published a paper in 2022 in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. The authors explained that these dormant bacteria come from the gut and the oral cavity. Microbial translocation into the bloodstream can occur via different routes, including through the oral and/or intestinal mucosa. As I said, these contribute to chronic inflammation.
The authors of that study also described how science has developed equipment that is sensitive enough to find microorganisms among the body’s own cells. Studies in both animals and humans have shown that bacteria can be in tissues and organs like the liver, adipose tissue, and brain tissue. Often these findings are linked to disease. For example, researchers have found bacteria and fungi in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Also, bacteria have been detected in cancerous tumors.
However, there is controversy about the ultimate relevance of these blood microbes. Some researchers have concluded that the same bacterial groups often seem to recur in healthy individuals. In other words, these scientists suggest that a level of microbes in the blood of healthy individuals may be normal.
Leakage of Microbes into the Circulatory System
As I said, the research suggests that microbes can enter the bloodstream via different routes, including through the intestinal mucosa as well as the oral mucosa. And there is easy access to the bloodstream when there is a “leaky gut” and when there is a “leaky mouth”.
Healthy Gut – Leaky Gut
Below is a graphic of a healthy gut and a “leaky gut”. The picture to the left shows a normal, healthy gut with a balance of good bacteria within the top light blue area and a healthy mucous layer protecting the one-cell-layer-thick epithelial barrier below. To the right is a picture of a “leaky gut” where unhealthy bacteria and toxic elements are breaking down the mucous layer and weaking and penetrating the epithelial lining (the red-colored cells) on its way to affecting the entire body.
Healthy Mouth – Leaky Mouth
Chronic systemic inflammation caused by a “leaky gut” will affect the mouth. This inflammation could cause the mouth’s healthy garden of bacteria and immune system to become unhealthy resulting in periodontal disease and tooth decay. If periodontal disease or tooth decay becomes severe, teeth could be lost. Infection and inflammation could spread into the jawbone, blood vessels, nerve canals, and soft tissues of the body. Debilitating and life-threatening diseases could occur just from this leakage of infection and inflammation from the mouth into the body. This is called a “leaky mouth”.
Below is a graphic of a healthy mouth and a “leaky mouth”. The picture on the left shows a normal, healthy tooth in the jawbone. To the right is a picture of periodontal disease (the red area) beginning to penetrate the jawbone on its way to affecting the entire body.
When it comes to periodontal disease, there is a specific bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis. This is an aggressive gram-negative bacterium with some unique qualities. One of these qualities is that it can enter cells and become dormant., It also can bind to red blood cells and enter the circulatory system. In fact, the red blood cells protect P. gingivalis from contact with circulating phagocytes from the immune system without affecting its viability. In this way, P. gingivalis could be transported to other organ systems to reemerge and cause serious diseases.
Unique Treatment to Destroy P. Gingivalis
For the six years leading up to my leaving private practice in 2018, I was using a unique laser (PerioLase Laser) to treat advancing periodontal disease. This laser uses a wavelength of 1064 nm (nanometers). It is the 1064 nm wavelength that enables the laser to selectively kill P. gingivalis that resides in the periodontal tissues and blood around the tooth without harming healthy cells.,,
The beam from the PerioLase Laser also can penetrate epithelial cells where P. gingivalis can enter the cell and become dormant. The laser will destroy the dormant virulent bacterium without destroying the cell.
In addition, the laser beam can stimulate precursor bone cells in the jawbone around the periodontally damaged teeth to regenerate damaged bone.
Millennium Dental Technologies is the company the developed the laser and the clinical protocols. The procedure is called LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure). Recently, the name of the procedure was changed to LAR (Laser Assisted Regeneration), which emphasizes the regenerative capacity of the laser beam.
Here is a video simulation of the LANAP (or LAR) procedure in action:
The high level of chronic disease in the US population could be partly due to dormant bacteria in the circulatory system, which has gone undetected until recently. Some of these microbes may be bound to red blood cells, which offer protection to these bacteria. Some of these microbes may embed themselves into blood cells, which can transport these potentially virulent bacteria to other organ systems. And some of them may be floating freely in the bloodstream.
While some researchers believe that there may be a normal level of microbes living in the bloodstream of healthy individuals, my guess is that these microbes may be the culprits in the development of serious chronic diseases.
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