Misleading and Confusing

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
June 19, 2017 [printfriendly]

ToothpasteThe first commercially produced toothpaste was launched in 1873 by Colgate and sold in a jar. Today, there are over 1400 different types of toothpastes available online and in stores. But, is toothpaste even necessary?

As with most things, there is controversy about toothpaste. Dental companies frequently advertise their products in misleading and confusing ways. The general public becomes the victim of this misinformation.

Here are my thoughts:


Is Toothpaste Necessary?

First of all, you do not need toothpaste to clean your teeth. The mechanical removal of unhealthy dental plaque using just a toothbrush, floss, and tiny brushes that clean between teeth are all that are necessary. No toothpaste is necessary to remove unhealthy clumps of bacteria and food debris.

The next fact is that tooth brushing would not be so critical if you ate a nutrient-dense diet that was anti-inflammatory. Here is a peer-reviewed research paper that was published in 2016. It showed that a healthy diet would decrease the signs and symptoms of active gum disease without the rigors of cleaning between the teeth.

However, don’t get me wrong. It is important to remove unhealthy dental plaque from around the tooth. Brushing and flossing will help. And, toothpaste can offer a pleasant way to clean your teeth. Unfortunately, marketing claims can be misleading, confusing, and downright false.


Chemicals In Conventional Toothpaste

Most conventional toothpastes in the marketplace include chemicals that are harsh to the teeth and gums. While these chemicals may make toothpaste “feel smooth” or “taste good” or “help to whiten teeth” or “coat the teeth to prevent decay”, these chemicals are unhealthy overall. Toothpaste companies will not share the truth of these potentially harmful chemicals with you.

In addition, several of these chemicals may be toxic to the body when they get into the systemic circulation.

Here are some chemicals that might be in your toothpaste:

  • Aluminum hydroxide
  • Aspartame
  • Carrageenan
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • Flavorings
  • Fluoride
  • Food coloring
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  • Parabens
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Propylene glycol
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium saccharin
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Triclosan


Claims By Toothpaste Manufacturers

Most commercial toothpaste companies make claims that their toothpastes are necessary if you wanted to clean your teeth effectively. The ads suggest that you would not be able to clean your teeth and your mouth if you were not using their products. These statements are false. Toothpaste is not necessary to make your mouth clean or healthy.

Also, some dental manufacturers suggest that their toothpaste is organic. In August 2016, a well-known dental manufacturer was ordered to remove false claims from its website that stated one of its toothpaste brands was “organic” and that “the USDA did not have standards for toothpastes regarding the word Organic”. In fact, (1) this company’s toothpaste did not have any organic ingredients in its formula, and (2) the USDA does have strict regulations regarding the use of the word “Organic” on toothpaste products.


The Bottom Line

Toothpaste is not necessary to clean your teeth. The mechanical cleaning with dental floss and various sized brushes will adequately clean your teeth. But more importantly, your mouth would be healthier if you ate foods that were nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory.

If you wanted to use toothpaste, be aware of the ingredients on the label. There are a few brands that can state they are Made With Organic Ingredients, which means that 70% of their ingredients is Certified Organic, excluding water and salt. There are very few that may claim they are Organic and would be allowed to use the USDA Organic Seal, which means that 95% of their ingredients is Certified Organic, excluding water and salt.

Note: I could not find any brand that was 100% Organic, which would mean that every ingredient in the toothpaste was Certified Organic, excluding water and salt.


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Why Do I Have Tooth Decay?
4 “Whys” & 5 “Solutions”

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
October 17, 2016   [printfriendly]

why-do-i-have-tooth-decayBeing a periodontist, my patients come to see me for gum problems. However, they often ask me, “Why do I have tooth decay?” Here are some specific facts about tooth decay:

  • Tooth decay is the most common infectious disease known to modern civilization. HERE.
  • Our human species evolved for about 2.5 million years with little or no tooth decay. HERE.
  • Many people who brush and floss daily still have tooth decay. HERE.


4 “Whys”

  1. Free sugars feed unhealthy mouth bacteria.
  2. These unhealthy bacteria overgrow around teeth and produce acids that cause tooth decay.
  3. You may not be cleaning your mouth properly. Therefore, you may not be removing unhealthy clumps of bacteria from around your teeth.
  4. You may not be eating a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, which would support your healthy mouth bacteria and would provide essential nutrients to strengthen your immune system and your teeth.


5 “Solutions”

  1. Eliminate (or drastically reduce) free sugars from your diet. Free sugars consist of sugars added to foods plus those sugars naturally present in syrups, fruit juices, and concentrates. Free sugars are the primary cause of tooth decay. HERE.
  2. Schedule an appointment with a dental hygienist to have a professional and thorough dental cleaning. This will remove harmful clumps of bacteria and calcified bacteria called dental tartar (dental calculus) from around your teeth. A cleaning like this will give you a clean and fresh start moving forward.
  3. Understand the importance of dental plaque. Dental plaque is a complex community of microbes that attaches to your teeth at the gum line. Dental plaque is not a bad thing. Healthy dental plaque plays an important role by fighting bad bacteria, remineralizing the tooth surface, and keeping acid levels stable. Your goal should not be to prevent healthy plaque from forming. However, free sugars feed certain bacteria in dental plaque and allow them to overgrow and become bad players.
  4. Learn how to effectively clean your teeth. Unhealthy plaque must be removed. Most patients I see think they are cleaning their teeth properly. But, when I show them how to do it correctly, they realize they were not doing a good job. I have written about how to clean your teeth HERE.
  5. Educate yourself about a healthy diet. A nutrient-dense diet will provide all the elements necessary to keep your teeth and immune system strong. I have written about nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diets HERE.


My Closing Thoughts

Free sugars cause tooth decay. They must be eliminated or greatly reduced. It is important to eat foods that support levels of healthy bacteria.


Much of the bacteria in your mouth serve an important purpose. You do not want to kill all bacteria in your mouth indiscriminately. However, it is important to remove unhealthy clumps of bacteria from around your teeth by cleaning your mouth properly.


Now you should be able to answer your question, “Why do I have tooth decay?” If you understand and follow my 5 solutions above, you will prevent tooth decay. The World Health Organization published a paper in 2015 about the horrors of free sugar in the human diet. You may find it informative. HERE.


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Crazy-Good Living

Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®
10 Action Steps

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      September 13, 2016   [printfriendly]

Dr. Danenberg LogoI created my slogan, Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®, two years ago. I wrote about its meaning and how the gut microbiome affects autoimmune diseases, specifically periodontal disease.


Seniors & Their Gut Microbiome

On my recent search of PubMed, I uncovered new peer-reviewed articles demonstrating the interrelationships of the gut microbiome, the immune system, and aging. HERE. HERE. HERE. HERE. Senior individuals in their 70s and older demonstrated a disrupted and damaged microbiome resulting in a compromised immune system.


Science has only scratched the surface with this research. We don’t know what we don’t know.


I don’t know what surprises will be revealed in the future, but I continue to be amazed. Although no randomized controlled trials in humans will be done to prove what I have written below, I am going to connect the dots and make assumptions by which I intend to live. While I understand there are normal biological changes as we age, I believe the microbiome of seniors is a result of decades of not supporting and not nourishing a healthy gut microbiome. I don’t believe a damaged microbiome is a result of biological aging. I believe seniors could have an enhanced immune system if they attended to their microbiome earlier in life.


The diet of civilized societies throughout the world has contributed to chronic disease. The foods, environment, and lifestyles of a modern, sedentary, and nutritionally deficient way of life have damaged the gut microbiome and have damaged the lining of the gut. Chronic inflammation has emerged from this damage to become the central cause of practically all degenerative diseases.


As we age, the compounding affects of a damaged gut eventually manifest as a decline in the quality of life. While it may seem that these degenerative states of poor health are part of the normal aging process, I strongly believe these late-in-life manifestations originated decades earlier from the disruption of the gut microbiome. Advancing gum disease also is related to continued disruption of the gut microbiome.


Action Steps

When I speak to groups of lay people as well as health professionals, I start by asking the question, “If you knew a train was coming at you, would you get off the tracks?” The answer to this question will determine the future quality of your life. In essence, the question is, “Will you be proactive?”


From everything I can assemble from all the peer-reviewed research I have been able to read, the dots I have connected translate to these 10 proactive action steps:

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet.
  2. Avoid processed foods.
  3. Eat organic if possible and only products from wild caught or pastured animals that feed naturally.
  4. Include organ meats and animal products that contain skin, tendons, and other collagenous parts.
  5. Include significant amounts of prebiotic fibers in the form of fruits and vegetables as well as probiotic microbes in the form of various fermented foods.
  6. Avoid exposure to chemicals and medications that could damage the human microbiome.
  7. Encourage getting out into Nature and into “dirt”.
  8. Exercise efficiently, which should include high-intensity interval training, strength training, some aerobic activities, and lots of non-aerobic movement.
  9. Sleep restoratively, which usually means about 8 hours a night.
  10. Learn and practice methods of stress reduction – chronic stress is damaging to the microbiome.


I believe these action steps will maintain a healthy gut microbiome as we age. If you could start this way of living immediately and if you could continue it for the rest of your life, you might be able to support a microbiome that will support your quality of life.


Be proactive! Implement them ASAP!


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My Primal Lifestyle
Part I of 3: What I Eat

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      August 22, 2016   [printfriendly]

My Primal LifestyleChris and his wife Terry came to my office the other day to discuss his periodontal treatment plan as well as the lifestyle changes I recommended both of them to consider. He brought his wife because she also had many questions. Two of her questions were, “How do you live your life?” and “What does your typical day look like?”


Great questions! I’m proud of the way I treat my body today, and I was eager to share that with Chris and Terry.


My primal lifestyle started in 2013. From that time forward, I have included a nutrient-dense diet, efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and stress reduction in how I live. In this first installment (Part 1), I discuss what I eat on a typical weekday and on a typical weekend. In Part 2, I discuss my weekly exercise program, and in Part 3, I discuss my sleep patterns and how I deal with stress. I am not an athlete or a marathon runner or a gym enthusiast. I am just a guy trying to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can. My philosophy is to keep it simple, doable, and effective. I think you will agree.



The Days Of The Week


I eat differently over the course of a week. Mondays through Fridays are different than Saturdays and Sundays. So, here is an example for a typical weekday and then my choices for a typical weekend. I also included my selections that are the same for all 7 days.



Typical Weekday


I usually do not eat breakfast because I am usually not hungry. But, I generally have a cup or two of my Spiced BulletProof Coffee in the morning.


Often my first meal is around noon or 1PM. That frequently consists of 3 eggs over easy cooked in coconut oil. I will sauté several leafy greens (like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale) in coconut oil with spices and seasonings like turmeric, fresh garlic, Himalayan salt, kelp granules, and ground pepper. I either will drink filtered water or goat kefir (I prefer Redwood Hill Farm Plain Goat Kefir) depending on what’s available and what’s my preference at the moment.


For dinner, one of my favorite meals is salmon baked in parchment paper with sides of sweet potatoes and streamed broccoli smothered with plenty of butter from pastured, grass-fed cows. I also like to sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon on my sweet potatoes.


For dessert, 85% dark chocolate is a regular indulgence. My preferred bar is Alter Eco Dark Blackout. When available, I enjoy some of my homemade avocado chocolate pudding that includes organic cacao powder.



Typical Weekend


My wife and I generally go out for breakfast or brunch both days. We look forward to eating at our local farm-to-table restaurants. At one of these restaurants, I usually get shrimp sautéed in olive oil with green peppers, onions, and garlic. I also have three sides: beets with ginger and raw honey, steamed cabbage, and sweet potato casserole made with raisins, apples, and pecans. Water with fresh lemon or lime is my preferred drink.


At dinnertime, we like a rack of lamb that we oven bake with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. I whip up a fresh salad of leafy greens with tomatoes, fresh fruit, raw pumpkin seeds, and my creamy Caesar dressing. We often have a side of live-culture sauerkraut.


Dessert is optional. I may have fresh fruit, dark chocolate, or my delicious avocado chocolate pudding.





I make a smoothie to drink that is available whenever I want during the day. It is a combination of leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach, and kale with an avocado, berries of various types, a banana, and filtered water to create the right consistency. I use a Vitamix Blender and store it in a large Thermos.


I rarely snack, but if I do it is usually with various raw nuts and seeds (cashews, macadamia, Brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds,) along with fresh fruits.


At dinnertime I may have a glass of a full-body red wine. I have found several organic varieties that I favor.



There You Have It


That’s pretty much my average day’s food plan for the weekend and for the weekday. What do you enjoy for your typical meals? Let me know.


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Supplements? Real Food?
What’s Best for Oral Health?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      June 20, 2016   [printfriendly]

SupplementsOur primal ancestors did not take supplements, and they rarely had gum disease or tooth decay. So, if you are eating a healthy diet (a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet), then what’s up with supplements?:

  • Just hype?
  • Marketing?
  • Overkill?


The answers are:

  • Probably
  • Definitely
  • Sometimes

Real Food 

Let me explain.


The supplement industry in the US is huge – about $37 billion! Obviously, it is in the best interest of those making a living in the dietary supplement business to sell as much stuff as possible. They do so by getting the word out to you and everybody else who can hear and read their propaganda. Supplements are marketed as the next best thing for longevity, energy, sexual prowess, beauty, restful sleep, and the ultimate elixir for most ills. But, it is true that there is good science behind some of this rhetoric.


The science shows that nutrients are critical for overall health as well as oral health. HERE. HERE. HERE. HERE. Also, the science shows that most individuals do not eat healthy foods and are lacking in many ideal levels of some nutrients. HERE. HERE.


The obvious solutions would be to eat those foods that are full of these missing nutrients or to take biologically active supplements to supply the body with what it needs. Interestingly, most nutrients are more effective when consumed in synergy with many various nutrients in real foods rather than when consumed individually in man-made supplements. In addition, it would be easy to overdose on supplements, but it would be very difficult to overdose on nutrient-dense foods.


So, what’s missing in many people’s diets? Some of the nutrients that are deficient include: Vitamins A, D, K2, C; magnesium; iodine: calcium, and zinc. These are critical for dental health as well as overall health.


Here are some healthy food sources to eat that provide these specific and necessary goodies:


Vitamin A

  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Cod liver oil


Vitamin D

  • Sunshine (that makes Vitamin D in your skin)
  • Cod liver oil
  • Fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon
  • Shellfish like oysters, clams, shrimp, etc.


Vitamin K2

  • Grass fed dairy
  • Poultry liver (especially goose)
  • Natto (fermented soybeans)


Vitamin C

  • Citrus fruit
  • Bell peppers
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi



  • Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) that are soaked overnight and then dried to eliminate phytates, which prevent the inherent minerals to be absorbed
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Molasses
  • Figs



  • Seaweed
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberries
  • Organic dairy products



  • Sardines and sockeye salmon (canned with bones)
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Molasses



  • Seafood such as oysters, scallops, and other shellfish
  • Organ meats such as kidney and liver
  • Red meat such as beef and lamb
  • Pumpkin seeds and other nuts that are soaked overnight and then dried to eliminate phytates, which prevent the inherent minerals to be absorbed


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Do All My Patients Follow Paleo?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      May 26, 2016   [printfriendly]

paleo dietNo!


Only about 5% of my patients are interested in my Paleo diet and lifestyle protocol. But, I keep pressing on.


My patients who follow my nutrient-dense diet and lifestyle recommendations usually are self-motivated because of other medical issues. For example, a few have recovered from a serious medical incident, and they have decided to make a change. Others have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and they want to get their general health back. Some patients have been following a “healthy way of living” for a while, and now I have shown them an evidence-based method, of which they have never heard, that makes sense to them.


Many people, with whom I come into contact, feel that a Paleo-type diet is too restrictive or stringent. My 30-Day Reset Plan is not difficult. It describes all the foods you could eat as much as you wanted and as frequently as you wanted until you were comfortably satisfied. However, it removes foods that most people eat daily and are used to eating even though those foods are inflammatory. After about 3 weeks on this program, cravings (especially for refined carbs and sugars) disappear or become greatly reduced. The overall benefits of an eating lifestyle like this are far reaching – well beyond a healthier mouth. My own personal story is impressive, and I share it with anyone who is interested.


While I am passionate in what I believe, it’s impossible for me to motivate anybody. You, as an individual, must motivate yourself based on your personal and innermost beliefs and goals. For example, about 30 years ago, I had a patient who had lung cancer as a result of smoking for decades. He was fortunate. Medicine at that time was able to save his life by removing his diseased lung while retaining his healthy lung. Yet, he still smoked cigarettes! How could I possibly motivate a person like that when the threat of his own mortality was not enough for him to stop smoking?


I can tell my patients how I have done what I have done personally. I can call attention to their selfish needs to have a beautiful smile. I can speak to my patients’ intellect by showing them the science-based health facts for embracing a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. I can explain how healthy eating can improve their oral health as well as their overall health. I can suggest to my patients that staying on their present course may be like standing on the train tracks of an oncoming train. I can emotionally appeal to their inner selves to want to live long enough to see their children and their children’s children grow into beautiful people. But, I cannot make them do what I think they should do. They must make their own decision to act or not to act.


So, to answer the original question, most of my patients do not follow a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle. But, I won’t reduce my efforts or desire to educate my patients if they show an interest in my way of thinking. I have been accused of being a fanatic when it comes to primal nutrition and lifestyle. I stand guilty as charged. My goal is to help self-motivate all patients that are interested in getting onboard a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle. I have written about this over and over again.


I am always available to help. Send me an email with your questions.


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Stinky Breath?
It’s More Than You Think!

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       October 18, 2015

Interestingly, almost everything begins with our mouths. Certainly, our nourishment begins with our mouths. And, our mouths have become unhealthy – more unhealthy than ever before in our species’ 2.5 million-year journey. Stinky breath could be a manifestation of many diseases.

evolution rOver the course of 2.5 million years, our species evolved into a perfect machine. Dealing with a host of environments and demands, our genetic structure developed the abilities to become the master control center of our well-being. But beginning 10,000 years ago or so, our species has been progressively at odds with our genetic code. In many aspects we have become an unhealthy people. Our modern lifestyles have brought us to the brink of either continuing on a destructive path or taking steps to repair our body.

However, for the most part, we do have control over these missteps. You may be surprised that poor lifestyle choices cause chronic inflammation, which in turn is a major factor in many of today’s diseases.

A study published in 2012 showed that 47.2% of the adult population over the age of 30 in the United States had periodontitis (which translated to 64.7 million Americans), and an astounding 70.1% of those over the age of 65 had this disease.

Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis, which is inflammation only in the gum tissue. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where the gums are infected and the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth are breaking down. This disease leads to bad breath, loose teeth, loss of teeth, sensitive teeth, pain, gum recession, and even spread of infection to other parts of the body. Gum disease is an important thread of integrative medicine.

Obviously, our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes and did not see a dentist every 6 months, but they had relatively healthy mouths. They hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay. Why?

Today, many people see a dentist every 6 months and also brush and floss daily, but they still have gum disease. How could that be? What we have learned to believe may not be so. Josh Billings (the 19th Century humorist) put it so clearly: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”

The “whys & hows” are related to the nourishment we give ourselves and the lifestyles we lead. As I stated, our modern lifestyle has brought us to the brink of either continuing on a destructive path or taking steps to repair our body. The steps to repair our body do not have to be complicated.

The steps require an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet and a lifestyle similar to those of our primal ancestors. This lifestyle includes efficient exercise, restorative sleep, and stress reduction. Whatever eventually happens on a cellular level anywhere in the body also affects the entire human complexity. All will be discussed in my new book titled, MODERN LIFESTYLE AT THE BRINK: Perspectives & Solutions from 2.5 Million Years of Evolution. Publication date is yet to be determined.