Is Your Doctor Asking You This Critical Question?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     April 13, 2016   [printfriendly]

5 QuestionsI learned something very important the other day.


I had the opportunity to attend a 2-day continuing education course this past weekend. The subject matter was enlightening, and the techniques I learned took me way outside of my box. All this was great. I love to be challenged. However, I learned one simple thing at the start of the seminar that was even more critical than all the material that was presented during the entire 12-hour program. I learned that I was not asking the most important question during my initial examination of my patient.


During my initial periodontal exam, I ask my patients questions about their medical and dental history and what is bothering their mouth. I review their medications and how they take care of their mouth. I explain what I see on their x-rays and how I will look in their mouth to determine what is going on. I describe how diet and lifestyle are critical components to their dental health and their overall health. I discuss things that they probably have never heard from any other dentist or medical doctor in their life.


After I perform my comprehensive exam, I summarize what I saw and how I could help them to get better. But, there is one question that I have never asked, and I now know what it is.


The critical question is: “What other health concerns do you have that I haven’t addressed yet?”


This open-ended question allows the patient to open up to me – to delve deeper into what may be bothering them beyond what I deal with as a periodontist. My job is not only to treat their gum disease but also to discover any other medical or emotional issues they may have.


It turns out that research has suggested that this is the most important question that patients need to be asked. Their answer could reveal what really would make them healthier and happier. Even if I were not the right medical person to address these issues, I would now be able to refer them to the correct healthcare professional to make them better.


Is your doctor asking you, “What other health concerns do you have that I haven’t addressed yet?” You can be sure that I will ask this question from now on.


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Beware Those Who Peddle Drugs and Supplements

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     April 8, 2016   [printfriendly]

Antioxidants and Gum DiseaseI know that some drugs are critical for specific medical situations. I know that some supplements are critical for specific nutritional deficiencies. However, beware of those practitioners that only peddle drugs or supplements to solve symptoms. Drugs and supplements may be necessary to resolve acute and painful situations, but most are only Band-Aids.


In dentistry, some of my profession push fluoride to decrease decay. In nutritional healthcare, some practitioners push antioxidants to offset free radicals. In medicine, many medical doctors write prescriptions for drugs to treat disease manifestations. Most of these pills – the drugs and supplements – still only deal with the signs and symptoms of disease. Can you see the disconnect? Where is the science? Who is delving into the real and underlying causes?


If you had a splinter in your finger, all the medicines or supplements in the world, and all the lifestyle changes you could think of, would not take care of the pain, inflammation, and infection that the splinter was creating. Not until you simply removed the splinter that was piercing the skin of your finger, would you have a chance to heal.


With that thought in mind, only after you recognize the injustices you have been hurling at your body for decades, and then address them, could you begin a healing process.


As a periodontist, I want to treat my patient’s immediate concerns. If there were acute infection, I want to reduce it. If there were irritants causing inflammation, I want to remove them. If there were oral hygiene procedures that my patient needed to implement, I want to teach them. However, I can never improve a patient’s future gum health and overall health without addressing nutrient-dense foods and lifestyle changes.


Research has demonstrated over and over again that diet and lifestyle can correct or improve almost everything chronic that is going on in the body. I have posted many of my articles about this subject on my website.


My Summary Thoughts: After eliminating any acute problems, correcting diet and lifestyle would be my next step. Then, if the body needed an extra boost, specific drugs and supplements could be recommended that might serve a supportive role.


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What’s Up With Gums, Gut, and Paleo?

evolution rThe soft tissues in your mouth are an extension of your gastrointestinal tract. Your mouth is like the first tee in a golf game; like the coming attractions before the movie starts in the theater; like the entrance to Disney World. It’s where it all begins.
As a periodontist, I have been treating gum disease for 41 years. The traditional methods of treating gum disease have rarely included the concepts of healthy nutrition based on our evolutionary requirements. For my patients, I include the methods of assisting all the body’s cells to reach their peak nutritional performance along with my treatment of gum disease through patient-friendly techniques.
There is a relationship between the gums, the gut, and Paleo. Let me describe this correlation.
Your gastrointestinal tract is a tube about 25 feet long. The tissues lining the entire length of this tube from the mouth to the anus can and will respond in their own way to whatever occurs along this path.
Once you take the first bite of food, digestion begins. Assisting digestion are the teeth that chew the food, the muscles that move the food along, the enzymes and chemicals that are produced to breakdown the food, the friendly bacteria that further digest food particles and produce necessary biochemicals, and the absorption processes that allow the dissolved nutrients to migrate into the bloodstream to nourish every cell of the body. Whatever is left over from this digestion process is excreted.
If there were irritants to the gut from the foods we ate, damage to the lining of the gut and increase in unhealthy bacteria could occur. The result could be unhealthy particles of food and bacteria entering the bloodstream creating chronic inflammation. This inflammation and increase in unhealthy gut bacteria affect the entire body as well as the health of the gum tissues. Their pathways increase the potential for gum disease as well as increase unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. Unhealthy bacteria in the mouth and further insult from ingestion of unhealthy carbohydrates will cause gum disease.
Paleo is a lifestyle. A Paleo way of eating may go under various titles. It is sometimes called a primal diet, or an ancestral diet, or a caveman diet.  There are no specific foods that make up a Paleo diet. The common denominator is that all these diets DO NOT include processed foods or processed sugars or conventionally fed and farmed animal products or processed fats and oils. A Paleo diet avoids these unhealthy foods, which often lead to damage in the gut, increase in unhealthy gut bacteria, and eventually damage in the gum tissues.
To come full circle, a Paleo diet, which excludes all these bad foods, can maintain a healthy gut in addition to healing a damaged gut. A Paleo diet can help maintain gum health.
So the importance of Paleo is that its nutrient-dense foods will allow the gut to function properly. A healthy gut will allow nutrients to be absorbed properly and will maintain a healthy community of gut bacteria. All this assists the gum tissues in remaining healthy.