A Toothpaste Too Good to Be True?

dental gel on toothbrushMaybe you saw the recent CBS This Morning segment on a new toothpaste “that claims to be more than twice as effective [as] traditional toothpaste.”

Actually, the head of the company that makes it won’t call it toothpaste but a “dental gel.”


The Very Big Deal about it is that they claim it controls plaque better than other products. According to CBS,

After a three-week study comparing Livionex to top-rated Colgate Total, [dental researcher Petra Wilder-Smith] found that subjects who used Livionex had 2.5 times less plaque, and their gums were more than twice as healthy.

There have been at least a couple other studies, as well. Other One in the Journal of Oral Hygiene & Health found an 84% improvement in plaque control compared with a conventional paste. Another found that while both the Livionex and the control gel reduced oral biofilm, the Livionex showed “greater efficacy.”

What’s more, this new paste is free of a lot of the stuff you don’t want to see in your toothpaste: SLS, sugar, triclosan, fluoride, and harsh abrasives.

But what each $20 tube does contain is EDTA, a well=known chelator. The idea is that activated EDTA binds the calcium that allows bacteria to create stronger biofilms that hold the colony together.

But calcium isn’t the only element that EDTA chelates.

In fact, you may already be familiar with EDTA. It’s a common means of cleansing the body of toxic heavy metals. More than a few recommend it after amalgam removal to help the body rid itself of mercury that has been harbored in its tissues for years.

Now imagine using an EDTA toothpaste with mercury amalgam fillings in your mouth – as more than 100 million Americans do, according to numbers from the ADA.

EDTA will chelate those and other metals in the mouth, as well. And it will do so every single time you brush.

Pretty significant downside, if you ask us.

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Bad Ideas in Brand Extension: Oral Hygiene Edition

This was never real:

Ben and Jerry's orange juice and toothpaste ice cream

But once upon a time – in 1982, to be exact – this was:

Colgate beef lasagne

Yes, Colgate – maker of toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products; a brand that absolutely dominates the global market; the first company to put toothpaste in tubes – thought it was a good idea to roll out a line of frozen entrees Under. The. Colgate. Brand.

Colgate identified their target market as single or widowed people who were conscious about their food, who liked to read magazines and listened to the radio in the car. They imaged their shoppers choosing Colgate over Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice entrees.

The deep-pocketed company planned to spend as much as $16.00 per impression in media outlets like Glamour, Better Homes and Gardens, and Lifetime channel. They went heavily into cents-off coupons. They blanketed the airwaves with messages on radio and TV.

They failed completely.

No surprise there.

lasagne coming out of toothpaste tube



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The Latest To-Do Over Coconut Oil

coconut oilAccording to USA Today and other mainstream outlets now, coconut oil is just terrible for you. So saith the American Heart Association.

Except that they didn’t really.

What they said was what they’ve been saying for decades: the same old bad advice about lowering your risk of heart disease by replacing saturated fats with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. More, they now insist that doing so “lowers cardiovascular disease risk as much as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.”

Well, that’s a bit of a leap.

Anyhow, since news of the current advisory ran, there’s been a lot of great commentary – from conventional and holistic quarters alike – on just how flawed and problem-riddled it is. Rather than rehash, we thought it better to just point you to the top five critiques we’ve seen so far.

  1. Please Calm Down: Coconut Oil Is Fine (Gizmodo)

  2. In Defense of Coconut Oil: Rebuttal to USA Today (GreenMedInfo)

  3. Vegetable Oils, (Francis) Bacon, Bing Crosby, and the AHA (MedPage Today)

  4. Why Coconut Oil Won’t Kill You, But Listening to the American Heart Association Might (Sustainable Dish)

  5. Is Coconut Oil Deadly? (The Drs Wolfson)

If you only have time for one of these, we recommend #3 – a searing essay by an expert in the fat and diet-heart hypothesis wars, Gary Taubes.

Have you read other critiques of the AHA paper that you think should be included here? Share the links in the comments!

About coconut oil & oral health (and more)

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“Holistic” and “Biological” Are NOT Interchangeable Terms

Over the past decade or so, conventional dentistry has finally begun to appreciate the relationship between oral and systemic health. It’s a welcome change. Just the other day, we ran across an article on dentistry’s “paradigm shift.”

The dental field is experiencing a paradigm shift in which the mouth is no longer viewed as an independent entity, but intricately connected to the rest of the body. Thus, whilst poor oral health negatively impacts on appetite, nutrition, self-esteem and quality of life, it has additional consequences that can affect general health.

Of course, this shift is only partial, largely restricted to the well-documented links between gum disease and other inflammatory health conditions. Still, it raises an important question: If dentistry in general now accepts the fact that the teeth and mouth are always connected to a body, how is this so different from holistic or biological dentistry, as the two terms are commonly defined?

You may have noticed how those two terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, just minutes after we ran across the above article, we encountered this:

Holistic and biological dentists are basically interchangeable in their practice philosophies. The difference between a holistic and a traditional dentist stems mostly from a philosophical approach.

Actually, they aren’t. But more on this in a moment.

Holistic or biological dentists operate according to the belief system that teeth are an integral part of the body and the patient’s overall health, while recognizing that the oral and dental health can have a major influence on other disease processes in the body.

The good doctor does go on to acknowledge that “most, if not all, dentists believe this to be true and operate daily with the well-being of the patient in mind.” So how is holistic dentistry actually different?

The holistic or biologic dentist takes this treatment idea further and tries to resolve dental issues while working in harmony with the rest of the body.

Oh. Okay.

But that’s still not biological dentistry.

We’ve blogged before about what biological dentistry is and why it’s called that. We won’t rehash it. Rather, we’ll distill it to a single point: Biological dentistry is rooted in regulative medicine that is focused on dental barriers to optimal health.

Dental situations are viewed in the context of a person’s total toxic burden. The state of the patient’s biological terrain must be addressed. After all, the terrain – the extracellular matrix – is what guides the body’s self-regulating abilities.

This is a fundamental concept. A dental practice that neglects this cannot, in the strict sense, be considered biological. It may be holistic, concerned with body, mind, and spirit alike. It may be integrative, combining the best modern clinical practice with traditional healing wisdom.

But biological dentistry, by definition, rests on supporting the body’s self-regulating abilities so treatment of problem dental situations – mercury, root canals, cavitations – can be most effective.

One of the reasons focal infection theory fell out of favor was that, in the wake of Weston Price’s landmark research, dentists began taking out root canal teeth left and right, claiming it would cure systemic illnesses. After so many people experienced no improvement, the theory was blamed.

But what subsequent science has suggested is that just extracting the root canal teeth wasn’t enough; deeper physiological disturbances need to be addressed, as well.

There are many good dentists out there who describe their practice as “holistic” or “biological” who do very good work. They safely remove mercury fillings. They remove infected root canal teeth or clean out cavitations. They support detox. They have patients who sing their praises, who feel their lives have been restored thanks to them.

worried manBut we’ve lost count of the number of patients who have come to us after seeing other integrative dentists. They’ve had their mercury or root canals removed, yet remained burdened by difficult symptoms. No one had connected all the dots. Their underlying regulative issues remained unaddressed.

To just take out the mercury or root canals or treat cavitations while neglecting the terrain is not much better than treating the symptom rather than the cause.

To put it another way: If the terrain is healthy and the immune system robust, a person can generally handle those dental issues for a long time without seeing chronic, systemic illness develop. It’s when the terrain is disordered and polluted that dental burdens can do their greatest damage to a person’s health.

So first, you’ve got to address the terrain.

To learn more about regulative biological dentistry, explore Dr. V’s Biodental Library – particularly his articles in our quarterly newsletter Biosis, as well as those on our biological dentistry resource pages. There, he goes in depth on the concepts he wants his patients to understand so they can take charge of their health in a real, profound way, with lots of case histories to illustrate.

And if you have questions about how biological dentistry may help in your own health journey, please don’t hesitate to give us a call: 209-838-3522. We’d be pleased to talk with you.

Image by B Rosen, via Flickr

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Is It Stress That’s Making You Grind Your Teeth – or Something More?

“Stress sheared off my front teeth,” Demi Moore recently told Jimmy Fallon. And she isn’t alone.

For months, my jaw and teeth have been in a constant state of clenching and grinding. Now, a molar had broken in half, pushed over the edge by one bite of a salted caramel cookie and a steady diet of political news-induced stress.

Indeed, as we’ve noted before, stress is a common cause habitual clenching or grinding, often during sleep – a habit known as “bruxing.”

teeth showing effects of bruxismBut it’s not the only cause.

Quite often, bruxism is a symptom of sleep apnea, a condition in which you periodically stop breathing during sleep. Each episode may last for several seconds to minutes, and there may be dozens of episodes each night. Each time, your brain is deprived of the oxygen it needs. Naturally, the body reacts as though it’s at risk of death, doing all it can to get you to start breathing again.

Bruxing is one of those things. Dentist Dr. Louis Malcmacher describes the process well:

The brain needs to open the airway and get the muscles of mastication [chewing] to start working hard and fast, a process we know as bruxism. The masticatory muscles move the jaw forward, the airway opens, and the patient takes in a deep rescue breath. The patient falls back asleep, the airway gets blocked, and the process repeats many times during the night.

So how does the airway get blocked?

One way is by your own tissues, for when you sleep, your tongue and the muscles around the top of your throat relax and can fall back, partly blocking the airway. (“Snoring” is the sound made when air forcefully pushes past the blockage, and it, too, can be a sign of apnea.) Or the whole mandible may be retruded – pulled backward – or fall back during sleep. Or the tongue may simply not have enough room to rest comfortably, due to an underdeveloped jaw and narrow dental arches.

In the short term, splint therapy can be helpful for cushioning the force of biting and protecting the teeth. But in the long-term, you want to address the cause of bruxing. If it’s stress-induced, then you want to pursue stress management or relaxation strategies. If it’s due to your bite, then you want to address the bite.

And if it’s apnea, then you address the apnea. (And it’s important you do: Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked with a wide range of health problems, from high blood pressure to dementia. It can even be deadly.) One oft-cited study found “a complete eradication of the tooth grinding events” after CPAP was used to ensure steady breathing through the night.

But not everyone can tolerate CPAP. Fortunately, there are other good options, at least in the case of mild to moderate apnea. Myofunctional therapy has been shown to be helpful, and an ever increasing array of sleep appliances are available to help keep the airway open and even to widen it.

The main thing is, there are options for saving your teeth from the ravages of bruxing.

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Removing Mercury Amalgam Fillings – an Important Step but Just One Step

open mouth with amalgam fillingsImagine you’re locked in a room where low levels of carbon monoxide are constantly being piped in. Eventually, you start to get a headache. You feel queasy, dizzy, weak. But before you get to feeling any worse, someone comes to let you out.

A feeling of relief comes quick.

So you might expect similar relief after getting mercury amalgam “silver” fillings removed from your mouth. You’re no longer subject to their 24/7 release of neurotoxic mercury vapor.

And research continues to suggest this – such as the study published earlier this year in Acta Odontological Scandinavica. Evaluating data from a small group of patients, the authors found that

Removal of amalgam restorations was followed by a long term reduction of general health complaints, which was associated with mercury concentration in urine before amalgam removal.

This similar to what one of the author’s 2016 doctoral thesis showed: a significan reduction in health complaints at three years after amalgam removal.

But here’s the thing to note: Being mercury-free didn’t mean being symptom-free. Patients reported feeling better yet still experienced a considerably high “symptom load.”

This simple fact offers another important reminder that just getting your amalgams out is seldom enough. Because at least some of the mercury released from amalgam fillings gets stored – and methylated – in the body, proper detox is needed to clear the metal from the body. And proper detox usually requires proper “pretox” – that is, getting the body ready to excrete toxins, opening the channels of elimination.

Mercury alone is seldom the problem in the patients we see. There are typically other toxic exposures. There are dietary and other lifestyle issues. There’s usually a history of other illnesses and injuries that have compromised the body’s ability to self-regulate as it was designed to do. There are often cognitive, emotional, and spiritual issues impeding the body’s ability to thrive.

Only by evaluating and addressing all factors that are compromising health – and doing so in a sensible, healthy, and logical manner – can real, long-term healing occur.

Image by Traci Lawson, via Flickr

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Mind/Body Unity & the Need for Authenticity

A wonderful, thought-provoking talk by Canadian physician, Dr. Gabor Maté:

Learn more about Dr. Maté and his work.

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