Hate Going To The Dentist?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      June 2, 2016   [printfriendly]

Hate Going to the Dentist?Have you ever heard any of these statements?

  • “It’s worse than pulling teeth.”
  • “I’d rather give birth to a child.”


Both statements compare painful events to the experience of going to a dentist. The thought of discomfort and visiting a dentist seems to go hand in hand. Frequently, going to the dentist has been viewed as an unpleasant experience. Pain and dentistry seem to be symbolically synonymous.


Actually, it doesn’t have to be that way in today’s world. Visiting the dental office does not have to be an uncomfortable experience. Certainly, pain in the mouth can be very significant and memorable. Yet, taking care of your mouth can prevent these horrors. You might even find out that going to the dentist could have huge benefits.


7 Huge Inducements to Visit Your Dentist

  1. To make your smile prettier and/or sexier
  2. To have your teeth whitened
  3. To have your teeth cleaned
  4. To help you enjoy and chew your food better
  5. To have a comprehensive dental exam including an oral cancer screening
  6. To make sure you don’t have tooth decay or gum infection
  7. To fix an immediate problem you believe you have (i.e. pain, mouth sores, broken tooth, swelling, bleeding, loose tooth, bad breath)


Any and all of these reasons make sense. They could be huge for you. Any and all can make you feel better.


The health of your mouth is important not only physically but also emotionally. It is important for you to be able to laugh, to speak easily and comfortably, and to be proud of your smile. Your mouth, your smile, and your breath affect you in business and in all social encounters. In fact, the health of your mouth actually mirrors the health of your body.


Healthy Body = Healthy Mouth


So, how do you keep your body healthy and in turn keep your mouth healthy?


Our primal ancestors (and today’s traditional societies) hardly ever had (or have) dental decay or gum disease. Eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods and leading a healthy lifestyle go a long way in keeping your body healthy throughout your life. Quality of life is a direct result of how you respect your body through nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction. A healthy body equals a healthy mouth.


I often write about my 4 Pillars of Health. I also recently wrote two articles that identify what’s wrong with dentistry and how a dental office could educate its patients of the biological causes of dental disease. HERE. HERE.


Have a proactive mindset when you visit your dentist and dental hygienist, but be sure they are on the same page as I have described in my article I wrote HERE.


Be positive. Ask questions. Get the results you deserve.


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Can Food Change the Shape of Your Jaw?

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
November 30, 2015 [printfriendly]




Shape of your jawBeginning about 10,000 years ago, the shape of our jaws started changing at a faster pace than the previous 200,000 years of modern humans. The change in jaw structure coincided with the advent of agriculture farming about 10,000 years ago and then later with the way mother’s fed their children.


Processed foods like baked goods, pasta, and refined sugars were created and grew in popularity after agriculture farming began 10,000 years ago. Processed foods were devoid of many nutrients that were necessary for normal bone growth. Also, eating lifestyles replaced nutrient-dense foods with processed foods. Without proper nutrients, jaw development was compromised.


Processed foods also were very soft and didn’t require much chewing. Since forceful chewing was no longer necessary, the jawbones and muscles did not have to be as strong as they needed to be when foods were tougher and harder. So, the size of the jaw and the size of the muscles began to shrink.


The jawbone didn’t change for all people. For example, today’s hunter-gatherer societies that are located in various spots around the world do not eat any processed foods. They only eat what they can hunt and gather. They have relatively healthy jaws and healthy bodies. However, when some of these individuals migrated to different “modern” societies and replaced their traditional diets with highly processed “western diets”, things began to change. These individuals over time developed chronic diseases and dental problems, and they had offspring with increased dental abnormalities.


Another factor affecting a change in the shape of the jaw was a decrease in mothers who were breastfeeding their babies.  Breastfeeding allowed the baby’s palate to develop and grow normally. When bottle-feeding replaced breastfeeding in the 1800s, infants’ jaws were not able to properly grow because of a lack of normal stimulation from the human breast.  Without proper stimulation, the upper jaw was challenged to grow wide enough to allow room for the teeth to erupt.



My Thoughts


What I have described is not universally accepted. Not surprisingly, there is controversy. But, eating nutrient-dense foods that represent the nutrition of our primal ancestors will provide our body with the necessary fuel required for proper cell growth and function. Eating raw foods as well as crunchy foods like nuts and seeds will stimulate and exercise the muscles and bones of the jaw. In addition, when mothers breastfed their children, these children were healthier than those that were not breastfed. (Here, Here)


Our health and our children’s health are dependent on these primal and natural lifestyles.



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Crazy-Good Living

If You Knew A Train Were Coming,
Would You Get Off The Tracks?

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
      November 2, 2015   [printfriendly]

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. That was the way it was meant to be. But about 10,000 years ago, a train started coming down the tracks, and modern man was not aware of its approach.


The train was in the form of lifestyle changes that would insidiously affect our body’s ability to function as it was designed to function.


Beginning 10,000 years ago or so, our species became progressively at odds with our genetic code. In many aspects we have become an unhealthy people. In many aspects, we have allowed changes to occur in our modern lifestyles that have brought us to a crossroads. Either we will continue on the destructive path affecting our health and well-being, or we will take steps moving forward to repair our body.


Fortunately, for the most part, we have control over our future. You may be surprised that poor lifestyle choices accumulate over time to cause chronic inflammation, which is a major factor in many of today’s chronic diseases. These diseases lead to a decrease in quality of life and a decrease in longevity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 50% of the US population (approximately 117 million people in 2012) had some form of chronic disease. (Here) Our primal ancestors hardly ever had, and today’s traditional societies hardly ever have, chronic diseases.


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. I start my story with the mouth. From there, the whole body becomes its playground.


A study published in 2010 demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gingivitis, which is infection and bleeding of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth. (Here)


Another study published in 2015 (discussing data from 2009-2012) 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. (Here)


Periodontitis is more serious than gingivitis. 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.


So, if you have gum disease, you are not alone.


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 some 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.”


Your mouth health and your overall health are related to the nourishment you give yourself and the lifestyle you lead. My original question was, “If you knew a train were coming, would you get off the tracks?” If your modern lifestyle could be causing severe health damage going forward, would you change your ways to get and stay healthy? The steps to repair your body are not complicated. I have discussed these steps in previous blogs, and I will continue to emphasize my philosophy in future blogs.


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We Were Born to be Healthy:
Part 2 of 7

evolution rThis is the 2nd part of the series. Part 1 is here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2012 that 47.2% of the US adult population had periodontitis, and the prevalence jumped to 70.1% for adults 65 years old and beyond. I am talking about periodontitis, which is the more advanced stage of gum disease where jawbone is being destroyed, and infection can spread throughout the body. The statistics would be even larger if I were talking about gingivitis, which is a reversible, more common, and early stage of gum disease. The study that was published was the most complete periodontal evaluation ever reported on a national scale.
The facts are that periodontitis, gingivitis, and tooth decay have not always been a problem. If you take a much broader look, you will get a much clearer picture by going back to our primal ancestors.
Our human species has been evolving for about 2.5 million years. Our primal ancestors did not have toothbrushes, or dental floss, or added-fluoride in their water supply. Obviously, they did not see a dentist every six months, yet they hardly ever had gum disease or tooth decay until about 10,000 years ago. What caused the prevalence of periodontitis to jump from practically 0% before 10,000 years ago to 70% today?
Researchers today have done some amazing things. They not only have uncovered skeletal remains of our Primal ancestors, but they also have developed DNA tests that can identify the types of bacteria in the ancient remnants of dental calculus.
The dental remains from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago demonstrated minimal decay and minimal periodontitis, but there was much bacterial diversity in the dental calculus. Interestingly, these bacteria were not virulent and were in a state of homeostasis. Then, about 10,000 years ago, the dental remains began to demonstrate increasing signs of decay and alveolar bone loss. The bacteria became more virulent. About 170 years ago, the prevalence of these diseases exploded and the bacteria became skewed to very unhealthy types. The question again is, “What Happens and Why?”
Questioning what we think we know
We really don’t know the entire etiology of tooth decay or periodontal disease or cardiovascular disease or any other chronic disease. We may have some ideas, but are they correct?
“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.” Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw), 19th Century humorist
It is difficult to arrive at accurate answers because there is so much we don’t know. Sometimes, what we think we know gets redefined and proven wrong. And then, there is a vast amount that we don’t know that we don’t know!
It’s not just in our genes
There is a science called Epigenetics. It is the study of environmental factors influencing our genetic expression. Over 90% of all chronic disease today is related to either what we put into our bodies that should not be ingested, or what we need to put into our bodies that we don’t. That is a very strong statement, and most of the medical profession does not know this or does not know its implications. The answers to the question “What happens and why?” lie in this concept.

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

Have Respect for What is Right

evolution rWhen you think about things changing over time, you might compare how things are today related to a time in the past. For example, a gallon of gasoline today costs about $3.35, but a gallon of gas when I started driving in Baltimore in the mid 1960s cost $0.23 a gallon. Styles of clothing have changed decade after decade. Food preparation certainly has changed from when our grandparents were cooking compared to how we cook today. Everything is relative. Some things are better today; some things were better in times gone by.


Old is also relative. After my wife and I moved to Charleston over 40 years ago, we were impressed with the city’s history and homes that dated back several hundred years. I thought that was old. Years after moving to Charleston, my wife and I traveled to Israel. We were shown and told about buildings that were built several thousand years ago. We thought that was really old. Sometimes old is good; sometimes old is not so good. But several thousand years is not that old.


Really old is when you go back 2.5 million years and look at our evolution. During that period of time, our bodies slowly adapted to our environment and the foods that were available to us for nutrition. Our bodies developed a method of using nutrients for our growth and survival. It took 2.5 million years for our cells and organs to slowly evolve. We need to respect what our bodies need.


Degenerative diseases today can be traced back to the insults from certain foods that we began to eat about 10,000 years ago and which our guts were never designed to digest completely. Also, toxins we ingest as well as toxins we create internally are related to these degenerative diseases.


We need to understand what was right about the diet and lifestyle of our primal ancestors. We shouldn’t condemn modern life; we should make progress where progress leads to betterment. Change usually is for the good. Yet, we never should lose sight of what our bodies essentially require. Nutrient-dense foods are always going to be the right things for us. That will never change!


So what are nutrient-dense foods? These are foods that have an abundance of the things we need with little or none of the things we don’t need. Specifically these are:


• Free range and grass fed animal products from nose to tail including all their wonderful fat and organs
• Wild caught seafood
• All kinds and colors of vegetables including seaweeds
• Fermented foods
• Most fruits with an emphasis on the deeply colored varieties
• Some nuts and seeds in moderation


Don’t get confused with all the processed products on the grocery shelves that have been filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients that can only harm our individual cells. Always keep in mind that you want to eat what is natural – not what has been transformed and processed into cutely packaged goodies. Amazingly, your overall health is at stake here, and your mouth will be the healthy recipient.