Problems in the Mouth Can Indeed Mean Problems in the Body

thoughtful expressionSometimes, when your knowledge expands, a little chaos is created, too. You may need to let go of old ways of knowing, of things you’ve thought to be true for many, many years.

It’s far easier to not ask questions and stick with the familiar path – like those dentists who cling to things like mercury amalgam, root canals, and such, despite all the evidence showing that their risks may outweigh their benefits.

And this brings us to a curious paper published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). It seems some are dismayed by the resurgence of focal infection theory in orthodox dentistry.

Despite the large and growing body of research highlighting the relationship between gum disease and other chronic inflammatory health problems – “The mouth is a base camp of chronic inflammation of the human body,” as the author of one recent paper on oral foci nicely put it – the authors insist that “promoting oral health care because of its possible effect on systemic disease is premature and may be misleading.”

Now, we can’t disagree with their statement that promoting oral health is a good in and of itself:

As oral health care providers, we know that having good oral health has many advantages and that poor oral health has many disadvantages. Effective and efficient chewing, enjoyment of food, pleasing appearance, self-confidence, and freedom from pain and infection are just a few of the benefits of good oral health. Good oral health alone justifies preventing oral disease and maintaining oral health.

But that doesn’t mean you then need to discount the vast body of literature revealing other benefits, as well – a literature that goes back as far as the time of Hippocrates, who reported curing arthritis by extracting a tooth. It’s more than just the perio-systemic relationship. too. Root canal teeth and implants, chronic ischemic bone disease (cavitations), mercury fillings, and more can likewise have whole body effects.

As Dr. Voll taught, 80 to 90% of all systemic health problems may actually start in – or be influenced by – the mouth. That influence is physiological, biochemical, and energetic, all ultimately guided by the health of the biological terrain.

Research also suggests that addressing oral foci may lead to improvement in various systemic health issues. Most recently, for instance, a study in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology showed that treating gum disease may help diabetic patients with glucose control. A 2017 study in the Journal of Dermatology, to offer just one more among many examples, found that psoriasis-type symptoms improved once oral focal infection was addressed.

Two things can be true at the same time. Yes, the pursuit of oral health is a good in and of itself. Yes, pursuing good oral health supports good overall health.

These ideas are not mutually exclusive. They never were.

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Another Natural Toothpaste Option

We seldom blog about specific products, but we were recently learned about a new natural toothpaste that seems pretty cool.

Now toothpaste, as our regular readers know, isn’t exactly a requirement for good oral hygiene. Research has shown that it’s mainly the mechanical action of brushing that breaks up the oral biofilm (plaque) on your teeth.

But toothpaste can deliver essential oils, nutrients, and other natural ingredients that can help support healthy teeth and gums.

Revitin toothpasteAnd that brings us to Revitin, a product we were introduced to at a dental meeting earlier this year. Like other natural toothpastes, it’s fluoride-free and SLS-free. What it does contain is a proprietary blend of prebiotics, vitamins, ionic minerals, and CoQ10, as well as essential oils that are known to support healthy gums.

The idea behind the product is based on the understanding that oral hygiene isn’t about “killing germs” but maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria and other microbes. In fact, it would be neither possible nor desirable to have a completely “germ-free” mouth. Instead, you want to focus on supporting the proliferation of healthy microbes to keep the bad guys in check.

Revitin was developed by two dentists with just that in mind.

According to a pilot study conducted for the company, a 25% reduction in gingival inflammation was observed after just one week of using the product – significantly higher than standard fluoride toothpastes.

Another study likewise found that, compared to standard toothpastes, Revitin reduced plaque by 46%, bleeding gums by 72.5%, and gingival inflammation by 42%.

While we have yet to make similar observations, we can say that the paste seems to offer a really good clean with very gentle abrasion. At first, we thought we might find the citrus taste of it (from the essential oils) a little off-putting, but the citrus note is actually quite light, clean, and pleasant. There’s no strong lingering flavor, which could seem a bit odd at first, especially if you’re the type who depends on a strong, minty taste as a signal that you’ve cleaned your teeth thoroughly.

Also, because the paste isn’t loaded with detergents, you don’t get a lot of foam while brushing – just a very fresh, clean feeling once you’re done.

All in all, though it a bit spendy, as far as toothpastes go – $15 per tube – it does seem another good option, particularly if you struggle with gum disease.

And if you’d like to try it, we’ve got a FREE full-sized tube to give away, courtesy of Dr. Curatola. To enter our drawing, just take a moment to describe your usual oral hygiene routine in the comments below. On November 14, we’ll draw the winner’s name from among all those who have submitted comments. Good luck!

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More Than Just the Absence of Symptoms

arrow sign pointing to healthHealth is more than just the absence of symptoms. And the good news is that more Americans than ever understand that.

According to a new survey from Samueli Integrative Health Programs, more than 9 out of 10 Americans today say health is about much more than not being sick. It also includes being happy (59%), they say, or being calm and relaxed (56%), or being able to live independently (53%)

Yet most also say their primary care physician seldom talks with them about more than their purely medical needs. Factors we know play a significant role in a person’s health and well-being are routinely overlooked.

  • Barely half of respondents – 51% – said their doctor talked with them about exercise.
  • Just 44% talked about diet; 40% about sleep.
  • A bit more than a third talked about mental health, while only 10% spoke of spiritual health.

“The current model of medicine,” says Dr. Wayne Jonas of Samueli Integrative,

focuses on providing pills and procedures for addressing physical symptoms and prescribing quick fixes…. But younger patients want more. They are looking for options that fit their lifestyle and personal needs. This generational shift proves that more and more patients will be seeking out ways to address the underlying causes of health.

But while there indeed appears to be a generational shift, it’s not just younger folks who are wanting a more expansive approach to sustaining or regaining their health. We hear it from older patients all the time. Often, it’s only after they’ve spent years being bounced from provider to provider with no one connecting the dots among their health concerns, including the role that oral conditions may have played in their development. Some may have even had their mercury amalgam fillings replaced or root canal teeth removed, yet saw little improvement or even a worsening of symptoms because it wasn’t done in a big picture context.

Once you do grasp the big picture – a total view of your health story – you can then take a more comprehensive approach to restoring or maintaining health, one that acknowledges the true nature of health – body, mind, and spirit thriving as they were designed to do.

conscious health quote

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Oh, Oh, GMO…

injecting ear of corn to suggest GMOAccording to a new industry-backed survey, nearly 70% of American consumers aren’t really clear about what GMOs are – or at least “are not confident” that they know what they are, in the language of the survey.

So is it any surprise that roughly the same number say that they’re uncomfortable having GMOs in the food supply? Not a lot of us would jump at eating something that we’re not too sure about.

Yet anywhere from 60 to 70% of all processed grocery products contain at least some GMO ingredients. More than 90% of the corn grown in this country is GMO – and that corn makes its way into industrially raised meat and dairy, as well as sweeteners, oil, flour, and other ingredients used in modern processing.

As Michael Pollan famously noted in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so much corn is used in supermarket products that, in terms of tissue composition, “we North Americans look like corn chips with legs.”

So just what is a GMO, or genetically modified organism? Here’s the definition offered by the World Health Organization:

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination…. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between nonrelated species. [emphasis added]

That means each GMO is a novel – and patentable and profitable – life form.

But while there’s plenty of benefit to agribusiness, there’s scant benefit to the consumer – or the environment, for that matter.

Indeed, a good and growing body of research suggests that we would be wise to proceed with caution when it comes to relying on GMOs for our nutritional needs.

As one registered dietitian has put it, “The more we mess with the way food was intended to be grown and consumed, the more risk we take that it adversely affects our health down the line.”

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The Trouble with Implants, Mixed Metals Edition

No one would be surprised if you missed this oh-so-important celebrity item amidst news about the Kavanaugh hearings, midterm elections, and the MLB postseason (Go Braves!): Dave Grohl, frontman for the Foo Fighters, had some dental work done.

As Alternative Nation reported,

gold on titanium dental implantdiscogrohl has posted the first photo of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s teeth, and they definitely look way different after his new gold tooth implant! discogrohl zoomed all the way in on Grohl’s mouth in the new Instagram photo album. Gold teeth implants have two pieces: a titanium implant that is surgically screwed into the jawbone, and the actual gold tooth. The gold tooth is attached to the implant and functions just like a normal tooth. It can be used to chew and bite, can be cleaned like natural teeth and cannot be removed.

Now, implants are trouble enough, as any regular reader of this blog knows, but here – presuming it actually is a gold crown on a titanium implant and not just a crown – we have an extra dose of potential trouble courtesy of the mixed metals involved.

When dissimilar metals are together in the mouth – gold and mercury, for instance, or gold and titanium (which is actually often an alloy containing aluminum, nickel, and other metals in addition to titanium) – they can effectively become like electrodes, with saliva serving as an electrolyte solution. Such conditions can basically turn your mouth into a battery as metal currents are exchanged between the two restorations.

You can’t be electrocuted by this voltage, although you might notice a metallic taste in your mouth. If the two metals come into contact with each other, you can get a burst of pain.

Over the long term is when real health concerns begin, as the electricity generated in the mouth can interfere with normal electrochemical functions in the body (such as the nervous system), as well as the flow of energy along the channels of your body’s meridian system. (Yet another problem with implants of all sorts is that the body must be cut open in order to place them, meaning further trauma and disruptions to the meridian system.)

The name for this mouth-battery effect is oral galvanism. It can contribute to headaches, fatigue, cognitive problems, and mood problems. Research has shown that it may also accelerate mercury release from amalgam fillings.

And, of course, it continually disturbs the biological terrain, which is the primary influence on whether and how a person grows sick or maintains their natural state of good health.

Not that ceramic implants are any big improvement, but at least galvanism isn’t one of their common “side effects.”

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Medical Implants & Chronic Disease

We’re just going to leave this here:

silicone breast implant study headline

According to Mark W. Clemens, MD, Associate Professor, Plastic Surgery and senior investigator, the team looked at “certain rare diseases” and found an association with some autoimmune diseases and cancers, including scleroderma and melanoma. “This study did not report a direct link or causative effect between implants and these diseases. It is important to understand a limitation of the study was that some diseases were reported by patients and not necessarily diagnosed by a physician,” said Clemens.

Another limitation? It doesn’t look at the big picture – other aspects of health, lifestyle, and environment that affect the state of an individual’s biological terrain and can make a person more vulnerable to disease or dysfunction in the face of additional insults. Still,

“This is important safety information for women to consider when thinking about cosmetic or reconstructive surgery with breast implants. It also underscores the need for more research in this area,” said Clemens.

silicone breast implantAccording to the study, which reflected data from two implant manufacturers, one group of patients with one brand of silicone implants reported a two to eight times higher frequency of Sjogren syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and melanoma compared to the general population. The other group of patients with another brand of silicone implants used for reconstruction reported scleroderma, Sjogren syndrome, and dermatomyositis more than twice as often as the general public. One case of breast implant associated with anaplastic large cell lymphoma was reported.

For much more on issues around implants – breast, dental, and otherwise, check out our recent review of The Danger Within Us and explore our archives.

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Soft Bristles or Not So Soft?: What’s Best for Toothbrushing?

toothbrush in cupA new review of earlier research confirms the main rationale for dentists recommending soft-bristle toothbrushes over harder-bristle ones: They’re less apt to damage your gums.

The researchers sifted through nearly 2000 studies to get to the 13 that met their criteria. Of those, 6 focused on bristle shape, 2 focused on stiffness, and 5 focused on both together.

Hard-bristle toothbrushes produced more gingival lesions than medium- and soft-bristle brushes. A slight gingival recession width increase was identified in the end-rounded group, compared with the tapered group.

Softness, of course, is one of the main reasons why we recommend the Nimbus toothbrush for those who prefer a manual brush (and there are some good reasons to opt for manual instead of power brushes). The Nimbus’ extra soft fibers are also extra long, so they’re more able to clean hard-to-reach spots along the gum line – as you might expect from a brush designed by a periodontist.

But ultimately, bristle softness is the thing – more so than bristle shape. As the authors noted,

Both tapered and end-rounded toothbrushes were considered to be safe, and there was no evidence to indicate one type of toothbrush over another.

Whatever the kind of toothbrush you choose, of course, the main thing is that you use it regularly and effectively. It won’t clean your teeth by itself, after all.

And even more effective than that? Floss before you brush. Other research suggests that this results in better removal of biofilm (plaque).

Really and truly.

Image by Santeri Viinamäki, via Wikimedia Commons

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