Periodontitis – Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Which Came First?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
September 5, 2017

 

 

Periodontitis - Rheumatoid ArthritisPeriodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also is a chronic inflammatory disease. In addition, both have autoimmune characteristics. Many people who have periodontitis have rheumatoid arthritis. Likewise, many people who have rheumatoid arthritis have periodontitis. Which came first? Current medical research offers a robust discussion. Yet, the dilemma continues – which came first?

 

There is another question that may be more basic: Could there be a common cause for both diseases?

 

Chronic Inflammation

A common cause for periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis might be chronic systemic inflammation. If that were the case, then the manifestations of periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis could depend on individual genetic predispositions and host response.

 

Chronic systemic inflammation is a complex system of “healing events”, which does not shut off naturally. Inflammation doesn’t shut off because an acute injury, which created the inflammatory response in the first place, persists.

 

In a healthy situation, when the body is harmed, the immune system creates inflammation to heal the injury. However, if the insult to the body becomes constant, then the body cannot turn off its internal “emergency reaction”. The immune system continues to be activated. Normal inflammation becomes chronic. Elements of chronic inflammation begin to destroy healthy tissue throughout the body and manifest into many chronic diseases.

 

Medical Research

Here are some thoughts from current medical research:

 

  • Chronic inflammation causes many chronic degenerative diseases. In this paper, the authors use the lens of evolution to describe various factors that affect the development of chronic inflammation. If insults, which create acute inflammation, are not removed within three to eight weeks, the body begins a destructive path leading to chronic diseases.
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  • Dental plaque is made up of many types of microbes, which are in a balanced state during health. What can cause the dental plaque to become unhealthy? Environmental factors affect a person’s immune system. If the immune system is compromised, then the host response can be altered and become destructive. A compromised immune system and a negative change in the host response can allow various bacteria in dental plaque to overgrow and become extremely pathogenic. Some of these harmful bacteria are resistant to the immune system’s attempt to kill them. The result is further development of chronic inflammation. In turn, there is damage to the jawbone and potential spread of infection as well as elements of chronic inflammation to various parts of the body. This article helps explain this process.
  •  

  • A specific virulent bacterium associated with periodontitis, Porphyromonas gingivalis, uniquely produces an enzyme called peptidylarginine deiminase (PPAD). This research has linked this production of PPAD by P. gingivalis to the creation of specific antibodies, which might cause the development of rheumatoid arthritis. These antibodies can be identified many years before the patient experiences clinical symptoms of RA.

 

Summary

Chronic inflammation causes many different types of chronic disease. Specifically, the apparent initial cause of periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis is chronic systemic inflammation. Once periodontitis has become active, the production of PPAD and its resulting antibody production may cause the development of rheumatoid arthritis or aggravate existing rheumatoid arthritis. A vicious cycle is at work between periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic inflammation. So, what is a person to do?

 

First and foremost, whatever is causing the progression of chronic inflammation must be eliminated completely. If there are foods and chemicals in the diet that are stoking the flames of inflammation, these must be avoided. Other irritating environmental factors need to be identified and removed. If there is damage to the gut lining or an increase in pathogenic microbes in the gut, these must be treated. If there is active gum disease or any other source of active infection, these must be resolved. Eliminating all sources of chronic inflammation is essential for a healthy outcome. Only treating the symptoms of periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis would not assure a healthy outcome.

 

So, which came first – periodontitis or rheumatoid arthritis? It could be a toss up, but treatment must eliminate the ultimate and common cause, which is chronic inflammation.

 

 

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Gum Disease:
When Bad Bugs Revolt

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
February 27, 2017

 

 

gum disease: when bad bugs revoltWhen bad bugs revolt, the result is gum disease.

 

The most obvious signs of gum disease are bleeding gums and gum infection. The most obvious causes are unhealthy clumps of dental plaque around the gum margin and irritating tartar located under the gums. I’ve written about dental plaque and dental tartar in the past. But, before there is unhealthy dental plaque and irritating tartar, there usually was something bad going on in the gut.

 

Something makes the normal level of healthy bacteria in the gut become out-of-balance. The bad microbes become “bullies”. They start to overwhelm the garden of healthy gut bacteria. These “bullies”, along with remnants of undigested foods and toxic irritants, can damage the one-cell-layer-thick gut lining. Once this lining is breached, these irritants can leak into the blood system. Then, cascading problems develop:

  • The immune system gets out of control
  • Chronic inflammation begins circulating throughout the body
  • Other organs become damaged
  • The bacteria in the mouth start to change for the worse

 

The obvious and necessary treatment for unhealthy gums includes removing the unhealthy plaque and the irritating tartar. But, that is not all that needs to be done. In addition, the gut must be made healthy; and nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods must be introduced into the diet to replace bad food choices.

 

But after all this, what if gum diseases still persist? What could be the causes of further gum bleeding and gum infection? The answer might be that stubborn and virulent microbes still are playing havoc under the gums. These bad guys could leak into the blood system, creating problems throughout the body. Let’s take it to the next step.

 

Cutting-edge research

Brad Wilson, DDS from Houston, TX has been doing cutting-edge research with PathoGenius Laboratory. Dr. Wilson has created a protocol to discover the bad bugs that continue to be out-of-control in the mouth. I am using this test to investigate those bad guys in my patients’ mouths.

 

The protocol begins with the patient brushing into his or her gum tissues. This will loosen dental plaque. Then the patient will give a saliva sample. Next, the sample is sent to PathoGenius Laboratory, which will test the saliva for microbes.

 

This innovative analysis determines ALL bacteria and yeast species in the sample using each bug’s unique DNA structure. The resulting lab report identifies the most harmful, disease-producing bugs in the mouth. The report also points out antibiotics that could kill the bad guys with minimal harm to the good bacteria. It is important to avoid a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which kills bad as well as good bacteria. Only the bad guys should be targeted, leaving the healthy bacteria to function normally.

 

If the lab results show harmful bacteria detected in large numbers, the patient moves on to the next stage to destroy them.

 

Methods to kill the bad bugs

If there are no deep pockets of bacteria and if there is no advanced jawbone destruction, I will recommend an antimicrobial to destroy these bad bugs. Choices are a systemic antibiotic or a localized antibiotic as suggested by PathoGenius Laboratory. Sometimes I recommend a natural product like raw honey to eliminate the bad bugs. I have written about the medical benefits of raw honey several times. (HERE. HERE. HERE.)

 

However, if gum infection is advanced and significant bone destruction has occurred around the teeth (known as periodontitis), I recommend a unique laser protocol called LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure). LANAP will destroy any remaining harmful bacteria and will assist the body in regenerating new bone.

 

Summary

Gum disease is usually the direct result of unhealthy clumps of dental plaque and buried tartar under the gums. Deep tartar irritates the gum areas like embedded splinters irritate the skin of a finger. Unhealthy plaque and irritating tartar need to be removed. But, nutrient-dense foods and a healthy gut are critical for ongoing health of the mouth. I teach my patients how to change their diet to improve their mouth and to improve the rest of their body.

 

If there are any significant amounts of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, they must be identified and eliminated. Bacteria-specific antibiotics or natural remedies may be necessary to reduce these bad guys. In advanced periodontal disease, not only resistant bad bugs need to be destroyed but also damaged jawbone needs to be regenerated. For the patient with advanced periodontal disease, the LANAP protocol has been documented to be an excellent treatment to return the area to health. LANAP is my choice of treatment for patients with this level of periodontitis.

 

 

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Cannabinoids:
Can They Treat Gum Disease?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
September 6, 2016

Gum Disease - New ResearchI’m a periodontist; I treat gum disease; and I have been doing this for 42 years. I have written about how I treat gum disease and how our diet and lifestyle are huge factors in the development and progression of gum disease. HERE. HERE. HERE.

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Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. It is a destructive, chronic inflammatory infection that breaks down the jawbone surrounding the roots of teeth. It affects 47% of the adult population in the US and is a factor in other diseases throughout the body.

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New Research

Research is just research. It is information that may make a difference in humans once it has been tried and tested in humans.

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I have found interesting research that could enhance the treatment of periodontitis. The dental profession has not adopted this new research yet. But, I see the potential.

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The new research revolves around biochemicals that are manufactured by various cells in the body naturally. The specific biochemicals described in the research are called cannabinoids. They affect numerous functions in the body. When cannabinoids are damaged or prevented from doing their work in the body, the body suffers. These biochemicals are also available from external sources and could support those made by the body.

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Specifically, cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids, is available from the hemp plant. It is not THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is another cannabinoid compound that is the active ingredient in marijuana creating psychoactive “highs”. CBD has no or minimal psychoactive effects or toxic affects, and is available as an over-the-counter supplement.

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Science & Periodontitis

Destruction of the jawbone in periodontitis is related to specific mediators causing inflammation and resorption of bone. New research in animal studies has shown that CBD will decrease this inflammation and prevent destruction of the jawbone that is part of the progression of periodontitis. It is possible that supplemental CBD could improve healing following periodontal treatment by reducing these damaging affects caused by advanced gum disease.

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In contrast, another published paper suggested that using CBD as a supplement could possibly cause an overgrowth of gum tissue, especially if there was existing gum infection.

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Future Potential

In the future, clinical trials need to be performed to demonstrate that CBD would be beneficial in the treatment of periodontal disease. Only then could my profession consider embracing its potential. Other questions that need to be answered include:

  • How much CBD would a patient need to consume to improve healing?
  • Since many structural forms of CBD are available, which one would be most biologically available to the body?
  • Are there any side effects from supplemental CBD on the rest of the body?

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These questions must be answered before I could recommend CBD as a supplement in periodontal treatment. However, I must emphasize the best prevention for gum disease is a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet as well as proper oral hygiene as I described in this series of blogs. HERE. HERE. HERE.

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Unfortunately, science at times has created medicines or supplements processed from natural sources only to learn the intended benefits are not what they should be or the side effects prove to be harmful. That said, I am eager to learn what CBD might be able to do for my periodontal patients.

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I Write A Lot. I Read A Lot.
But, I Don’t Believe Everything I Read

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      August 18, 2016  


 
 
     

I Write A Lot; I Read A LotI write a lot; I read a lot, but I don’t believe everything I read. I am always reading papers of peer-reviewed research on PubMed.gov. PubMed is the go-to site for me to search what’s available in the worldwide archives of published science.

 

I was scanning through recent articles about periodontal disease on PubMed when I came across this paper. The title is, Primary prevention of periodontitis: managing gingivitis. It was published in the prestigious publication of the Journal of Clinical Periodontology in April 2015. Great article title, if you were a dental geek like me. Detailed review, if you wanted to delve into results of many published papers. But, way off the mark in its conclusions, in my opinion.

 

Just because you read peer-reviewed research that has been scrutinized by experts before it is published doesn’t mean it’s “correct”. The words “published” vs. “correct” may be as confusing as “normal” vs. “healthy”.

 

It may be “normal” to have occasional bleeding in the gums, but that condition certainly would not be “healthy”. “Normal” means the far majority of the population exhibits a particular condition. Occasional bleeding gums are “normal” because most people have that condition, but any bleeding gums certainly are not “healthy”.

 

This article presents information that was “published” many times before, but the conclusions are not “correct” because the human species over 2.5 million years of evolution proves otherwise.

 

Here is what the article concluded: “All people should brush their teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes with fluoridated dentifrice”. Also, for patients with advanced gum disease, “2 minutes are likely to be insufficient.” In addition, patients with gum disease would need to clean between their teeth and use “chemical plaque control agents”.

 

I agree that brushing for at least 2 minutes and the use of interdental cleaning brushes are the best ways to clean around and between the teeth. I recommend that to all my patients. However, evolutionary dentistry clearly shows that tooth decay and gum disease are primarily a result of a lack of a nutrient-dense diet and the abundance of unhealthy gut bacteria. (HERE. HERE.) The human species is not deficient in chemical plaque control agents. We were not born with a genetic deficiency in fluoride. If anything, chemicals disturb the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and mouth. (HERE.)

 

So, what should you do if you had gum disease or if you wanted to prevent gum disease? If you had gum disease, first the disease would need to be treated properly. Once it was treated, or if you only were trying to prevent this disease in the first place, you should be eating nutrient-dense foods and you should maintain a healthy and balanced level of good bacteria in your gut. (HERE.) Proper brushing and cleaning around your teeth are important, but proper diet and healthy bacteria are critical for health going forward.

 

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Vitamin D & Your Mouth:
5 Steps to Take

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     March 17, 2016  

5 Steps to TakeIt’s not a catchy title, but the science is profound.

 

I have written about the importance of Vitamin D and periodontal disease before. HERE.  However, before you start gobbling up Vitamin D supplements to cure gum disease or any other mouth lesions, these five things are a must:

 

  1. You must have a dentist carefully evaluate your mouth for gum disease and any other lesions. HERE.
  2. You must get a blood test to determine your Vitamin D levels. The test is called 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test. HERE.
  3. You must remove the unhealthy plaque that is growing around your teeth at the gum margins through proper oral hygiene. HERE.
  4. You must have a hygienist remove any calcified remnants of bacteria (tartar) that can be lodged under your gum tissues doing what splinters would do under the skin of your finger.
  5. You must change your diet to one that is nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory. HERE.

 

Importance of Vitamin D

 

The biochemical functions in the human body are unbelievably complex. It’s like dominos falling. If one domino were to fall, the consequences would be widespread. Vitamin D is no exception. As a matter of fact, Vitamin D plays pronounced and critical roles throughout our human machine. Michael Holick, MD has stated, “Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor protein. It’s estimated that upwards of 2,000 genes are directly or indirectly regulated by vitamin D.

 

Gum Disease

 

Advanced gum disease causes damage to the jawbone that surrounds the teeth. Periodontitis is the name for this advanced stage of gum disease. Anatomically, teeth are attached to the jawbone by a series of fibers that function in the same way as the strings that support a hammock between two trees. Aggressive bacteria have been shown to damage these fibers and progressively damage the jawbone. What is fascinating is that the destruction of these fibers and eventually the jawbone may be turned off with adequate levels of Vitamin D, as reported here.

 

Mouth Sores

 

Some sores in the mouth may be related to Vitamin D deficiency. Current research suggests that Vitamin D may stop frequent canker sores (aphthous ulcers), which are bothersome ulcerations that pop up on the soft tissues in the mouth. HERE, HERE.

 

 

Summary of What To Do

 

  • Have a conscientious dentist examine your mouth.
  • Check your Vitamin D blood levels. You should strive for levels of 25(OH)D around 40ng/ml. You could improve your levels by obtaining healthy sun exposure; eating foods like cod liver oil, oily fish like salmon, Portobello mushrooms, and pastured egg yolks; and supplementing with Vitamin D3 plus K2 capsules. The sun and specific foods are the best sources.
  • Learn how to clean your mouth effectively, and have any tartar removed from under your gums by a dental hygienist.
  • Research and begin a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle.

 

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7 Things I Used To Know
That Just Ain’t So

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     March 7, 2016  


 
 

7 things I used to knowJosh 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.”

 

As a periodontist, I have been treating patients now for 42 years. That is a long time. You would think that I should know everything that there is to know about gum disease – its causes, its treatment, and its prevention. If any medical doctor or dentist or any other professional told you that he or she knew everything that there was to know about a subject, run as fast as you could to the nearest exit.

 

I live and breathe “outside of the box.” I have an open mind about almost everything. It is exciting for me to learn new things and even change the way I currently do things if a better method or newer knowledge were proved. I am still aware that these newer and better ideas may still be changed or disproved in the future. I will continue to learn until I die. This invigorates me.

 

So, with that said, here are seven hard and true dental facts that I have learned in the past during my professional career that no longer are valid or accurate. I have included peer-reviewed research LINKs:
 

  1. Brushing and flossing are all that is necessary to prevent gum disease and tooth decay: Disease-producing dental plaque is clearly unhealthy. Brushing and flossing properly will remove it. But, eating processed foods is actually the more important culprit of increasing harmful bacteria in the gut and in the mouth. LINK.
  2.  

  3. Killing all the bacteria in the mouth is the goal for a healthy mouth: Healthy plaque actually is made up of numerous microbes that benefit one another. If they were to be destroyed, or if their delicate balance were to be altered, tooth decay and gum disease would ensue. LINK. LINK.
  4.  

  5. Antibiotics should be used to treat infections in the mouth: While some acute infections must be brought under control through the use of systemic antibiotics, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics will damage good bacteria in the gut as well as in the mouth. LINK.
  6.  

  7. Traditional gum surgery (including cutting open the gum tissues, cutting the damaged jawbone, and using sutures) is the treatment of choice for treating advanced periodontal disease: Research has shown that a specific type of laser can kill the virulent bacteria that cause periodontitis and increase the potential for some of your own damaged jawbone to regrow. LINK . This procedure is called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP), and does not require scalpels or sutures. You probably would be able to return to your regular routine the next day.
  8.  

  9. Mercury fillings are the best way to treat a decayed tooth: The science is out there. Today, dental fillings incorporating biologically compatible materials are excellent choices to repair decayed teeth. Mercury fillings are not one of them. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can interfere with numerous biological pathways in the human body. LINK.
  10.  

  11. Fluoride is necessary to remineralize a tooth and prevent tooth decay: While locally-applied fluoride preparations can harden susceptible tooth surfaces, diet is more important. Nutrient-dense foods that also are anti-inflammatory can provide the building blocks to strengthen and remineralize tooth surfaces. LINK.
  12.  

  13. Mouth problems are independent from what is going on in the rest of the body: P. gingivalis (an aggressive bacterium causing periodontitis) can invade other tissues and potentially may cause other systemic diseases. LINK. LINK.

 

I will be the first to declare that what I am doing is no longer valid when science demonstrates that it is no longer effective. Is your health professional open to new knowledge? He or she should be!

 

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Should You Take Antioxidants to Stop Gum Disease?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     February 15, 2016  

Antioxidants and Gum DiseaseThe short answer is, “No, don’t take antioxidants to stop gum disease.”

 

Unfortunately, they aren’t what they are cracked up to be. Read what I have written about antioxidants in the past.

 

“So, why wouldn’t it be helpful to take antioxidants from a bottle to stop gum disease?”

 

Let’s examine what is really happening in the world of gum disease. My explanation may get a bit scientific, but this is interesting stuff. Try to hang in there.

 

Gum disease is a result of oxidative stress causing damage in the gum tissues. HERE. Oxidative stress is simply the imbalance between the production of free radicals (biological molecules that have lost an electron) and the ability of the body to neutralize their harmful effects through antioxidants (biological molecules that donate an electron). When there is an abundance of free radicals that are trying to steal electrons from other healthy cells, then there is damage to the body.

 

“But wait a minute; it sounds like antioxidants are the answer!”

 

Let me go on.

 

Recent evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements do not offer sufficient protection against oxidative stress or resulting cellular damage. Real foods contain much more effective antioxidants than those sold in bottles. However, it is becoming more obvious that the human body has mechanisms in place within every cell to create its own natural antioxidants. These are the best antioxidants – the ones that are naturally produced by our body.

 

The keys to decrease oxidative-stress-induced damage are to reduce or eliminate those things that are causing oxidative stress and to help the body produce its own natural antioxidants.

 

Oxidative stress to the tissues surrounding a tooth can result from unhealthy bacteria in the dental plaque, from irritation by tartar under the gum tissues, and from toxic chemicals that have damaged individual cells. Oxidative stress also can be caused by a leaky gut, emotional stress, over-exercise, or lack of efficient sleep. The general media would have you believe that antioxidant supplements could take care of the problem. As I have suggested, antioxidants are not what they are cracked up to be.

 

“So, what’s the answer?”

 

The solutions to eliminate gum damage from oxidative stress are to eliminate causes of acute infection, to make necessary lifestyle changes, and to incorporate healthy nutrition.

 

Eliminating acute gum infection includes reducing the damaging bacteria and removing deep tartar causing constant irritation. Lifestyle changes include learning good oral hygiene like proper brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning. Other lifestyle changes include healing an unhealthy gut, getting enough sleep, engaging in efficient exercise, and reducing overall stress. Healthy nutrition includes eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body.

 

My personal experiences as well as my research of peer-reviewed articles have brought me to this way of thinking. We can do so much more for our mouth and our entire body if we removed what was causing the problems and then gave our body what it needed to thrive. The last 2.5 million years of our species’ survival have convinced me.

 

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Dental Plaque:
the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     January 22, 2016  


 
 
Dental plaque- the Good, the Bad, the UglyWhat’s that ugly stuff around Jason’s teeth in the picture to the right – the white stuff around the necks of the teeth at the gum line?

 

It’s called dental plaque.

 

If it were thick, it might look like cottage cheese around the gum margin. It could smell bad and taste awful. It also could create severe gum disease and dental decay as it did for Jason.

 

Interestingly, there are different stages of dental plaque:

  • A good stage
  • A bad stage
  • An ugly stage

 

In the good or healthy stage, both the dental plaque and the gum tissues maintain a delicate balance allowing the gum and teeth to stay healthy. This is known as homeostasis.

 

In the good stage of dental plaque, a sticky substance first forms on the tooth surface. This is called the pellicle. Various bacteria begin to attach to this and eventually form a complex, multilayered biofilm. This is still the good stage of dental plaque. The outer layers of the biofilm are made up of mainly aerobic types of bacteria (bacteria that live in the presence of oxygen).

 

However, changes may occur that transform this healthy dental plaque into a disease-producing dental plaque – a bad stage. The biological mechanism creating this change is not completely understood.

 

Science suggests that when we eat processed grains and sugars, bad bacteria in the gut and in the mouth can overgrow. Some of these bad bacteria in the plaque can ferment sugar, produce many types of acids, cause imbalance in necessary nutrients, and cause decay on the tooth surface. Other bad bacteria in the plaque could cause bleeding gums or gingivitis. This is the bad stage of dental plaque.

 

Our body’s immune system plays a significant role in determining what types of harmful bacteria develop and overgrow. One of the most aggressive types of bacteria is called Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis). As this bug overgrows and then dies, it produces a very potent and destructive substance called LPS (lipopolysaccharide). P. gingivalis is one of the most virulent types of bacteria causing periodontitis, the advanced and very destructive form of periodontal disease. This dental plaque is now in the ugly stage. LPS creates severe inflammation that can destroy the jawbone and can seep into the bloodstream.

 

Research suggests that the bacteria in the gut and in the mouth are interrelated. The development and course of periodontal disease are affected by the stages of dental plaque. The stages of dental plaque appear to be determined by:

  • The foods we eat
  • The bad bacteria that overgrow
  • The strength of our immune system
  • The genes we have inherited

 

Good plaque helps maintain biochemical balance around the teeth. Bad plaque begins the infectious process of dental decay and early gum disease (gingivitis). Ugly plaque causes gingivitis to progress to periodontitis, which (1) destroys the jawbone, (2) causes loss of teeth, and (3) may spread to other areas of the body.

 

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Gum Disease? Diabetes?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     January 17, 2016  

 
 
 

Gum Disease? Diabetes?Type 2 diabetes is growing in the US. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 29.1 million people (or 9.3% of the US population) had diabetes. Of those, 21.0 million were diagnosed, but 8.1 million had diabetes yet didn’t know it. That meant that 27.8% of people with diabetes were walking around undiagnosed with this debilitating and life-threatening disease.

 

Another alarming statistic is that 94% of the US population has some form of gum disease, but about 47% of US adults have advanced gum disease that is destroying their jawbone and making its way into the bloodstream.

 

Those with type 2 diabetes are unfortunately confronted not only with the damaging effects of their diabetes, but also with the destructive path of advanced gum disease (or periodontitis). HERE. HERE. HERE. The prevalence of advanced gum disease in diabetics is significantly higher than in those without diabetes. HERE. HERE.

 

Type 2 diabetes is generally a chronic disease that is related to diet and lifestyle. A Paleo diet and lifestyle can go a long way in either possibly reducing the complications of this disease or possibly eliminating it and restoring the body to health. HERE. HERE. HERE.

 

For those with type 2 diabetes and advancing gum disease, a recent study published in 2015 showed that a combination of conservative gum treatment and a specific dietary nutrient provided healthier results than conservative gum treatment alone. The infection of gum disease improved and other markers of diabetes including hemoglobin A1c improved.

 

In this study, conservative gum treatment consisted of a deep cleaning under the gum tissues to remove tartar, which was acting like a splinter causing irritation and inflammation. The specific antioxidant supplement was lycopene, which is abundant in foods like guava, watermelon, and tomatoes. Participants in this study were given capsules of lycopene to take daily for 8 weeks.

 

My personal research has convinced me that nutrients like lycopene consumed in their natural food sources will enhance cell function and prevent chronic diseases better than consuming man-made or prepared supplements. That is one reason I prefer a Paleo diet as my go-to way of eating. A Paleo diet includes various plant-based foods that are rich in the natural antioxidants that support healthy blood sugar as well as reduce the chronic inflammation of gum disease.

 

If you have gum disease and diabetes, you need to be proactive. Schedule an evaluation with your dentist or periodontist and at least have a thorough deep cleaning performed to remove disease-producing tartar. Also, begin a Paleo diet with an emphasis in vegetables and fruits that have high levels of lycopene.

 

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Gum Disease & How I Treat It:
Natural   Meets  Traditional  –  Part 3 of 3

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS       December 22, 2015

 

Gum Disease TreatmentIn Part 1, I explained how most of us have some form of gum disease. I also suggested how you could tell if you had this disease. In Part 2, you learned the differences between health and disease as well as the way a dental professional could determine if you had this disease. In this last Part of the series, I outline the causes of gum disease and my treatment methods combining natural and traditional treatments.

 

What Causes Gum Disease?

 

If you had gum disease, here are some generally accepted causes:

  • Bacteria form on surfaces of the teeth where the gums meet the teeth. The bacteria film is called dental plaque. When some of these bacteria become very unhealthy and get under the gum, they cause disease.
  • Some of these bacteria can harden around the teeth forming tartar or calculus. It attaches like barnacles form on the bottom of a boat that sits in the water. The irritation to the gums from the calculus is like a splinter in your finger that irritates the skin.
  • Habits of grinding or gritting your teeth can wiggle the roots in the jawbone. This will weaken the bone just like a stick that is wiggled in the ground will push the dirt aside while loosening the stick.
  • Bad dental fillings can act like irritants damaging the bone. If you had dental fillings that were broken, had rough edges, or didn’t fit properly, they could cause infection.

 

But, did you know there are other causes? These not-so-obvious causes may be even more important than dental plaque or tartar. They include:

  • Eating specific foods that cause bad bacteria to overgrow in your mouth and in your gut
  • Not eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods that can strengthen your immune system and prevent infection
  • Toxic substances in your environment that could affect your immune system
  • Genetic changes that could make you more susceptible to gum disease

 

My Way Of Treating Gum Disease

 

It would be great to take a pill and all of a sudden gum problems would be a thing of the past. It doesn’t work that way. Here is what I recommend for my patients, progressing from what everyone should do to what those with significant disease should do:

  • One of the most important things you can do is to clean your mouth properly. Here is my article on how to do that.
  • If your diet or lifestyle were not healthy, you need to make changes. In my opinion, the healthiest diet for gum health and overall health is a Paleo diet.
  • A dental professional could help by removing any tartar that is irritating the gums. Think of this like removing a splinter in your finger so that the skin could heal. If deeper problems existed, then more advanced treatment might be necessary.
  • If there are broken or rough fillings in your teeth, they should be repaired or replaced.
  • If you have habits of grinding or gritting your teeth, some type of bite treatment or a bite guard must be included.
  • For deeper disease, there is a deeper type of cleaning called scaling and root planing, which is usually performed by a dental hygienist with your gums numbed.
  • For more advanced disease, bone surgery might be necessary. Today, LANAP® (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) is a laser surgical procedure that can treat the infection and assist your own bone to regrow without cutting with a scalpel or using stitches. In my opinion, LANAP is a game changer for the treatment of advanced gum disease and may become the standard of care in the future. Again, this is my opinion, but about 25% of periodontists in the US have become licensed to perform LANAP. When I treat my patients with LANAP, I also provide specific herbs for my patients to support their immune systems while healing.

 

In this series of three articles, I have provided my summary of gum disease, its health consequences, and its causes and treatments. In my opinion and in my experience, incorporating traditional treatment with natural treatment provides the ideal way for my patients to improve their overall health and to improve their mouth health.