To Take Care of Your Health, Take Care of Your Mouth
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   Mind     Body     Mouth

Issue #1, February 2016

Welcome…

to the inaugural issue of Mind, Body, Mouth, our monthly newsletter for helping you attain and sustain optimal oral and systemic health! We hope you like what you read!
 
We also encourage you to connect with us on social media. Links to all our profiles are just to the left, and links to easily share this issue with others are at the bottom of the issue.
 
So without further ado…


Good Health Starts in the Mouth

oral health systemic healthMost people don’t think much about their teeth and gums until something goes wrong. They see their dentist as a problem-fixer, a kind of mouth mechanic, not realizing that their oral health actually has an impact on their overall health and well-being.
 
Holistic and biological dentistry emphasizes this connection – along with a conservative approach to treatment that recognizes and supports the body’s self-regulating, self-healing abilities.
 
Conventional dentistry is starting to recognize this connection, as well, perhaps most obviously with respect to the link between gum disease and systemic health. Scientific research continues to show how key periopathogens – harmful bacteria and other microbes that play a major role in the periodontal disease process – turn up at sites far away from the mouth.
         
Several months ago, news came out about a woman whose artificial knee got infected after she began flossing her teeth too aggressively. This cut up her gums, which then allowed bacteria into her blood. A culture of fluids taken from her knee showed the culprit to be S. gordonii, a periopathogen.
           
S. gordoniiOral bacteria has likewise been found in the knees of people with rheumatoid arthritis and the hearts of those with cardiovascular disease, among other locations. Other conditions associated with gum disease include stroke, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.
         
The common denominator among all of these? Chronic inflammation.
 
Now, in and of itself, inflammation isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of your body’s natural defense against infection and injury, a sign that it’s marshalling resources to heal the damage. But when it becomes chronic – ongoing, long-term – it becomes a problem. The immune response winds up damaging the tissues it would otherwise protect.
 
All of the things that fuel chronic inflammation are also things that fuel gum disease, including poor diet, lack of physical activity, chronic stress, sleep debt, and tobacco or other drug use.
 
And just how big of an impact can there be? One study published just before Christmas found that among  more than 15,000 patients with a history of cardio-related problems, the greater the degree of tooth loss – a sign of poor gum health – the greater the risk of stroke and cardiovascular death.
Compared with patients with the most teeth (no gum disease), those with no teeth had a 27% greater risk of MACE [major adverse cardiovascular event]…after adjustment for treatment or placebo, age, blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, diabetes, prior MI, gender, smoking, waist-to-hip ratio, kidney function, family history of heart disease, alcohol consumption, education, physical activity, and country income level.
 
Similarly, compared with the patients with the most teeth, those with no teeth had an 85% increased risk of CV [cardiovascular] death and a 67% increased risk of stroke during follow-up.
While this study does have its limitations and shows only relationship, not causality, it adds to the bulk of evidence that taking care of your gums goes a long way toward supporting your overall health.
 

3 Tips to Help You Prevent – or Reverse – Gum Disease


healthy teeth and gums
 
Of course, the best way to deal with gum disease is to not develop it at all. Fortunately, the things you can do to prevent it are also all things that can help you reverse it. The top three?
  1. A healthful diet
Oral pathogens love sugar, white flour and other simple carbs. By avoiding these and other hyper-processed products, you deprive them, keeping them in check. Replace those foods with more nutritious options such as fresh vegetables, whole fruit, nuts, legumes, and plenty of healthy fats such as coconut oil, pastured butter and avocado. Opt for organic whenever possible, along with grass-fed or wild meats and raw dairy.
  1. Good home hygiene
Home care is largely a matter of brushing and interdental cleaning. For brushing, we recommend using Sonicare or another electric brush. They tend to give a more thorough cleaning. After you brush, take a dental probiotic like ProbioMax DDS or apply ozonated olive oil to your gums – alternating daily – to keep harmful microbes in check.
 
For cleaning between your teeth and under the gums, Waterpik is the way to go. To really flush out pathogens, add 5 to 10 drops of povidone iodine or colloidal silver, or 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to the water.
  1. Oil pulling
If you’ve tried oil pulling, you already know what a huge difference it can make! Clinically, we see reduced bleeding, inflammation and pocket depth within weeks of a patient adding oil pulling to their home hygiene regimen, and research has borne this out. All it takes is slowly and gently swishing a spoonful of oil around your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes each morning, before you brush. Try it with either sesame or coconut oil. Both are powerful antimicrobials. Just be sure to spit the oil into the trash – not the sink – when you’re done. Spitting it down a drain can clog your plumbing.
 
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How We Support Your Perio Health Holistically

Gum disease prevention and treatment is an important part of what we do – because it’s a disease that’s all too common and, as we note in this month’s feature article, closely tied to a wide range of systemic illnesses.
 
Just how common is it? Nearly half of all Americans over 30 have periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease. As many as 80% have the condition to some degree. 
           
There are some tell-tale signs: puffy red gums, bleeding gums, deep pocketing around the teeth. Teeth that move and bone loss viewed on x-ray tell us that the disease may be advanced.
 
But we don’t have to wait for those symptoms to show up. In fact, with our phase contrast microscope, we can actually see the beginnings of gum disease BEFORE it sets in. Checking for disease on the microscopic level lets us deal with any problems early and less invasively (and, we should note, less expensively).
 
OralDNA testing gives us another view of your periodontal health. This simple saliva test tells us which specific pathogens are present, along with any genetic markers that may make you more prone to developing periodontal problems.  
 
In turn, we can provide more specific, targeted therapies to help you reverse the disease process and restore your oral health.
 
One of the most useful tools we have for treating gum disease is our perioscope – a very small camera we can place into each sulcus (the gum space between teeth that gets deeper as gum disease progresses) to get a magnified view of the root. We then remove plaque and tartar as usual, but more effectively, as we can see the results in real time.
 
With all of these – along with all the other technology and testing we rely on in our office – the goal is always the same: helping you keep your mouth healthy so the whole of you can be healthy.
Major Risk Factors for Gum Disease

Smoking

Sleep debt

Chronic stress

The Standard American Diet (SAD)

Systemic inflammation

Hormonal changes in girls/women

Genetic susceptibility (interleukin-1 & -6)

Bad Bugs!

Though many factors can play a role in gum disease, harmful microbes have a starring part. In this light-hearted video, Dr. David Kennedy explains what you need to know about these bad guys and how to keep them in check:


 
Image Credits
S. gordonii: ZEISS Microscopy
Teeth: dozenist
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