Your Gums and Your Health

evolution rI write frequently about nutrition, gum disease, and overall health. This is my passion since I know first hand that providing our cells with the nourishment and supportive lifestyle they need will allow our bodies to thrive. You could read my personal transformation here.
I want to share some thoughts about the connection between gums and health.
Do you have gum disease?
If your gums bleed sometimes, you most likely have a form of gum disease called gingivitis. This is an infection; it involves inflammation and bacteria. Often, this infection can travel under the gums and into the jawbone surrounding the roots of your teeth, which transforms into a more advanced stage called periodontitis.
Gum disease can give you bad breath, loose teeth, tenderness in the gum tissues, gum recession, and root sensitivity. It also can participate in spreading infection throughout your body. Unfortunately, as the disease progresses, your occasional bleeding gums might go away, causing you to believe that this disease is not a problem any longer. Don’t become misled. Often this infection has moved deeper under the gums and into the bone around your teeth, slowly destroying your jawbone. The bleeding has stopped, but the infection is worse. And, it may not cause pain until the teeth are ready to fall out.
But, be aware that bleeding or sore gums might be something other than gum disease. The mouth mirrors many of the internal functions and malfunctions of the entire body. Sometimes, both a dental as well as a medical evaluation are necessary to determine if you have gum disease or something totally different.
What can you do about gum disease?
You need to be cleaning your mouth properly. A well-trained dental hygienist can demonstrate what you need to do if you need some help. I find that most people will benefit by brushing with an electric toothbrush that efficiently cleans the bacterial film from around much of the tooth. It is also important for you to clean between the teeth with floss and a small brush that is designed to clean the in-between spaces as a bottle brush would clean the inside of a baby’s bottle. Brushing is all about removing the bacterial film (called dental plaque) from the surfaces of the teeth. When it comes to toothpaste, my recommendation is organic coconut oil and baking soda.
For most people, I recommend the following for effective tooth cleaning:

  • Have a small jar of coconut oil and baking soda in your bathroom. Coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties; baking soda has very low abrasiveness and helps maintain a healthy pH level in your mouth. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts at 76 degrees F.
  • Dip your toothbrush bristles into some coconut oil, and then dip them into some baking soda. I like an electric toothbrush because it is more efficient than a regular manual toothbrush. I find that the electric toothbrushes that sit in a cradle that charge from an electrical outlet in the wall are much more effective than battery-operated brushes, which don’t seem to have much torque.
  • Next, place the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle into the gum margin where the gums meet the teeth. The baking soda will make the toothpaste taste salty.
  • Turn the brush “on”, close your lips to keep the drool and splatter in your mouth and not all over the bathroom wall and mirror, and let the electric toothbrush do all the wiggling. Just move the brush from one side of your mouth to the other staying in the gum margins. Be sure to clean all the outside surfaces facing the cheeks and lips and then all the inside surfaces facing the roof of your mouth and your tongue.
  • You also want to clean the in-between surfaces of your teeth. Floss is good, but I also like a tiny brush that fits between the teeth. Think about how you would clean the inside of a baby bottle. These little interdental brushes are soft, and they gently remove the soft bacteria sticking to the tooth surfaces between the teeth as you slide the brush in and out between these teeth.

The bacteria, which are major factors causing this infection, also can harden around the teeth and under the gums. A dentist or a dental hygienist can gently remove these deposits called tartar that are like barnacles that form on a boat’s bottom as it sits in the water. Tartar irritates the gum tissues like a splinter in your finger would irritate the surrounding skin until it was removed.
To understand what is going on with your gums, you should make an appointment with a gum specialist (periodontist) like myself. A periodontist could help you learn how this infection might be spreading in your body and how it might be arrested and healed.
Gum health and overall health
Gum health is not only about brushing and flossing. While most dental offices will never address nutrition in depth, I believe nutrient-dense nourishment is a critical component for a healthy mouth and a healthy body. The refined carbohydrates (like breads, cereals, processed foods, sugars) that you consume can increase bad bacteria in your gut. Then, unhealthy bacteria from your gut can affect the bacteria in your mouth by way of your saliva. These unhealthy bacteria have a negative effect on overall health as well as mouth health. Infection-causing bacteria forming in your mouth feed off of the refined carbohydrates you consume to cause gum disease and tooth decay – a vicious cycle.
This cycle needs to be broken. The ways to a healthy mouth and a healthy body must start with individual cell health. And, the only way a cell can get healthy is with proper nutrients and the removal of any irritants. You need to remove the bad and replace it with the good. From a mouth perspective, it means removing the soft bacteria and the tartar from around the teeth. From a nutrition standpoint, it means eating nutrient-dense foods and removing the unhealthy carbohydrates. From an overall perspective, it also means obtaining restorative sleep, effective exercise, and stress reduction.
If you would like, you could schedule a phone consultation with me. You would fill out a Questionnaire and a 3-Day Food Journal (both are on my Website), then send them to me by FAX or online. If you would prefer, you could mail them to my Post Office Box listed at the bottom of this page. I will review them and call you by phone or Skype to discuss your issues. I am here to help if you feel the need.
I see patients in my office located in Bluffton, SC (843-593-8123). The way I treat advanced gum disease is by incorporating a laser procedure called LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) with Primal Nutrition and Lifestyle concepts. Positive lifestyle changes can make all the difference as they assist cells around the teeth as well as cells throughout the entire body in healing.

Some Personal Thoughts…

evolution rHere I am – a periodontist and a primal-nutrition enthusiast. I know that I can improve the gum health of my periodontal patients using (1) patient-friendly, cutting-edge treatment to correct gum disease along with (2) primal nutrition concepts that help prevent the return of gum disease. I know that incorporating primal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle also will help prevent many, if not all, of the chronic diseases that plague our modern world.
I’m going to share my personal thoughts. When it comes to my life, I believe in quality. I don’t want a pill to just make me feel better or just make my blood chemistries register a better number. For me, it wouldn’t matter what the disease was called, or if my cholesterol was plus or minus a certain number. If what was going on with me affected the quality of my life, I would want to prevent or eliminate whatever was creating that problem. I would want to get to the root cause and repair the damage. I don’t want something to mask the symptoms.
I am discovering from my extensive research into the science of primal nutrition that the manifestations of chronic disease in our society today are frequently the results of what we put into our bodies and what we are unable or unwilling to remove from our bodies. It’s not the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that concerns me, or cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, or any of the named degenerative diseases. What motivates me is the maintenance of individual cell health because that is where chronic disease begins, and that is where chronic disease can be prevented.
There are so many prescription medicines out there to treat the manifestations of cellular damage – to treat the symptoms of disease. There are so many over-the-counter supplements being promoted to treat these same conditions. I believe the most important things to do are to give our cells whatever they require to survive and thrive as well as to remove whatever is unhealthy for them. Cells will repair. It all starts with proper nourishment and the removal of whatever is damaging the cells. Toxins in any form compromise our cells and their ability to function optimally. Unrelenting stress, harmful chemicals, poor sleep habits, lack of efficient exercise, damaging foods – all of these contribute to the bad things that we need to eliminate in order for our cells to do what they were designed to do.
I see health as a four-legged stool. If any of the legs of the stool were broken, then the chair would not support the person who tried to sit on it. Your healthy, productive body needs stability too. And, your mouth is just an extension of your functioning body. Your mouth is not an island unto itself; it is intricately and intimately connected to everything that happens to each cell in your body.
To support your health, the quality of your life, and the health of your mouth, the following four cornerstones (just like the four legs of a chair) must be in place:

  • Nutrient-dense whole foods
  • Restorative sleep
  • Efficient exercise
  • Reduction of all unhealthy stressors

Jimmy Moore Interviews Me

evolution rJimmy Moore is an interesting guy. He used to weigh 410 pounds! Then he lost over 180 pounds through a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb lifestyle. Since then, he wrote several books and created and still hosts a podcast called The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show. His interview with me this week was his 884th episode, so he has had a lot of experience doing these. He produces incisive interviews with the leaders in the fields of Paleo fitness, low-carb nutritional research and real food advocacy. And, he is very good at it.
Here is episode #884 where Jimmy interviews me about primal nutrition, gum treatment, my clinical study involving nutrient-dense real food supplements with my patients, and much more. Listen to it here.

How I Changed My Life

      Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     October 1, 2014  


evolution r

My story is interesting because I could have died.
You would think that a healthcare professional like myself would have learned everything that was necessary to be personally healthy. But, not true. Medical and dental professionals have a paltry amount of nutritional training – and no training in the importance of primal nutrition and lifestyle.
My story begins in December 2006:
I had been in practice for 32 years. I was treating my body as well as I thought was appropriate. I ate low fat, high fiber foods including grains, skim milk, fish, and meat. I didn’t like non-starchy veggies, but I thought I was doing just fine. I exercised aerobically 4-5 days a week for about 40 minutes a day. One of my loves was to snack on popcorn, which I believed supplied me with healthy fiber.
Then, in December 2006 I had a life-changing event. My daughter (who was staying with me and my wife while her family was transitioning to Portland, OR from Charleston, SC,) was sitting on our living room floor while I was standing with my laptop in my hands. All of a sudden I felt a shock travelling from the computer up my arm. I dropped the computer on my sofa, and my daughter exclaimed, “What’s wrong?” I said that I just got a shock from my computer. Her response was, “Dad, don’t be so melodramatic.” A week later, I had a stroke.
The stroke must have occurred while I was sleeping. When I woke up, my grandson was at our house, and I attempted to ask him if he wanted to go out for breakfast. But, the words could not come out. I was unable to speak. I felt fine, but I couldn’t speak. My wife, who is a nurse, realized what was happening, and drove me to the hospital. I was lucky.
My doctors explained that the “shock” that I thought was from my computer was actually a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). Many people who have a stroke will experience a TIA days or weeks before the stroke as a warning sign of an impending crisis. I was not aware of such a warning sign, so I paid no attention to it.
While in the hospital for a week, my cardiologist and internist put me on three types of blood pressure meds, a cholesterol med, and an acid reflux med. My vascular surgeon put me on 81mg aspirin and Plavix. Their medical advice was for me to take these meds for the rest of my life. Within three weeks, I was able to speak normally. I returned to work after six weeks.
After my stroke in 2006, I knew that I needed to get educated about good nutrition. So, I began my reeducation. For the next 6 years, I actively pursued my needed education in nutrition. I thought I was doing well.
In April 2013, I enrolled in a 5-day nutrition course that changed my life. I was excited because I believed that this was going to be the program I had searched for to confirm what I was doing currently was correct. I hoped to learn a few new things to hone my skills and update the knowledge that I already acquired. This program wasn’t about basic nutrition as I had been learning; it was about primal nutrition – the foods and lifestyles that allowed our species to thrive for 2.5 million years. What I learned in those informative and enlightening five days did change my life. I learned that almost everything I was doing was wrong. That blew me away!
Among other things, I learned that most processed foods were making us sick. I learned that modern grains of any type were one of the worst things I could put in my body. I learned that healthy fats were essential, and anything that was processed to be low-fat or no-fat was unhealthy. I learned that all the fruit I was eating contributed way too much sugar to my body, and leafy greens and other multicolored veggies were required at every meal. I also learned that exercise needed to be efficient, sleep needed to be restorative, various stresses on my body needed to be reduced, and that sitting most of the day was almost as bad as smoking. Wow!
So, I traveled back to my home in Charleston, SC and informed my wife of what I learned. She was not happy. But, she allowed me to make a 30-day test of my new fangled ideas. We removed all the processed foods, grain products, and sugar aliases from our pantry and fridge, which added up to 7 grocery bags that I took to my local Food Bank. We joined our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to obtain locally grown, organic veggies weekly. The foods we started eating consisted of grass fed beef and wild caught fish; all kinds of shellfish; free range chicken, liver, and eggs; all kinds of vegetables raw and cooked; some deeply colored fruits and occasionally nuts and seeds that we soaked overnight.
At that time, my meds were still the same. My HDL was 48, my triglycerides were 120, and my resting blood pressure was 137/87 even with three blood pressure meds. I weighed 184 pounds. My physicians’ advice was, “Continue to take your meds.” Unfortunately, my physicians were ignorant of the science of primal nutrition and lifestyle, as I believe most physicians are.
Today, I am still practicing periodontics, and I plan to continue treating my patients for the foreseeable future. As I am writing this, my resting blood pressure is 119/72, and my pulse rate is 54. My HDL is 76, and my triglycerides are 112. I weigh 154 pounds.
It has been stated that it takes one month of repairing a nutritionally damaged body for every year of the manifestation of a disease. I am still a work in progress; I have much farther to go to regain optimal health. I am patient, but I am diligent and motivated. I can’t believe the way I used to live was slowly destroying me. I can never return to the way it used to be. I am a changed person, and I want to spread the word.
The doctors, whom I depended on in 2006 while I was having a stroke, were exceptional. They saved my life, but I had to learn how to get healthy on my own. I only learned what was going on in my body after I learned about evolution and how our ancestors thrived.
Why didn’t my physicians help me understand why I had a stroke, and how I should improve my lifestyle to get healthy? Why didn’t my physicians explain how I should wean off my meds over time? The science is there, but most of the medical profession hasn’t gotten the message.
While making a change in my life, I also am making a change in my patients’ lives. In June of 2014, I received the designation of Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, which helped me understand why and how diseases start at the cellular level. In September, I received the Certified Primal Blueprint Expert designation, which brought the concepts of primal nutrition and primal lifestyle into a cohesive game plan to incorporate with my active periodontal treatment. I teach all my periodontal patients the importance of primal nutrition and primal lifestyle. When you enable each cell in the body to function properly by giving it what it needs – which is nutrient-dense real foods and exercise and sleep and reduction in all types of stresses – each cell will help all other cells to thrive. Your gut will become healthier; your overall body will become healthier; and your mouth will become healthier.
I’ve reenergized my life and reengineered my professional career. I offer the knowledge that I have learned to all my patients and to all who want to listen.

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