The American Academy of Periodontology estimates that nearly 80% of Americans have some form of gum disease. Approximately 50% of cases are considered moderate to severe. As a biological dental office, it is our responsibility not only to recognize and treat this localized, infectious disease in the oral cavity, but also to understand the systemic effects that the mouth has with the rest of the body. This relationship between systemic health in the body and oral health is bi-directional.
Our biological practice incorporates this bi-directional holistic concept. The most important message we communicate to our patients is, “if you’re going to treat periodontal infection, you absolutely must treat the whole body.” People with gum disease are not “healthy people with sick gums.” They are unhealthy people.
The best way to improve overall health (including the mouth) is to place the chemistry of the body in balance. Disease, no matter where it appears, is a body chemistry imbalance. Opportunistic conditions exist for bacteria, viruses, yeasts, parasites and molds to flourish and attack the body until balance is restored.
Is there a solution to treating periodontal disease that will improve short term as well as long term success? I think the answer is to provide nutritional support for the body along with an effective non-surgical approach to periodontal therapy.
Most people would prefer an alternative method to the conventional “cut and sew” surgical procedures. These are often painful, require weeks of healing, and worse, are largely ineffective at curing periodontal disease long term unless systemic considerations are also taken into account.
I consider Biological Periodontal Therapy to require three basic steps for long term success.
First, remove the pathogens. This is considered the acute phase of therapy that will usually require 3 -5 visits to complete.
This step starts with irrigating the entire mouth with an antimicrobial rinse that contains essential oils and herbs. These help reduce the initial exposure of microforms into the blood stream before periodontal therapy begins.
Next, the periodontal pockets are treated as needed with gross debridement, root plane and scaling and sub-gingival irrigation in order to eliminate the offending microforms and calculus that are present.
Using the phase contrast microscope, your progress is checked toward disease eradication. This is a great visual display of the bacteria level in the mouth which often motivates patients to continue the steps necessary for their improvement.
Each appointment is concluded with a full mouth irrigation with an antimicrobial rinse and polish.
We use “natural” antibiotics, as necessary, such as garlic extract (Allicin) or Oil of Oregano for inflammatory or infectious conditions.
Second, alter host response. A biological dentist should work with you to balance your body chemistry. An acidic body chemistry is a major causative factor for disease in oral cavity and throughout your body. This may take some time depending on your condition. Therefore, balancing your body chemistry may be a longer term phase of your therapy.
Balancing your body chemistry may be the hardest part of the program because you have to take a serious look at your own lifestyle and behavior to determine areas that need improvement. Following the recommended protocol will certainly enhance your body’s ability to heal and repair damaged tissue.
- “Get Back to Basics.” Eat natural, fresh, whole foods.
- Eat fruits and vegetables with low glycemic index.
- Eat animal products such as white meats and fish.
- Consume monounsaturated fats from olive oil, olives, nuts, natural peanut butter, almonds and avocados.
- Drink plenty of WATER!
Take nutritional supplements for biological periodontal therapy:
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Vitamin C
- Oil of Oregano
Third, reduce susceptibility through maintenance care.
Once your biological periodontal therapy is completed, it is essential that you continue with a maintenance program that is personally designed for you to ensure a successful outcome for years to come. This includes:
- Regular hygiene check-ups, every 3 – 4 months at first, then increase to 6 months as appropriate for your individual situation.
- Follow proper home care instructions.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Take nutritional supplements.
The systemic problems associated with periodontal infections are too dangerous to ignore. These include heart disease, stroke, pre-term, low birth weight babies, pregnancy gingivitis, stomach ulcers, diabetes, brain abscesses, prosthetic joint failure and sub-acute bacterial endocarditis.
Did you know the risk of having a stroke is 2½ times higher than normal for people with periodontitis? Therefore, it makes sense that the treatment of periodontal disease, along with good nutritional support and quality supplements, may offer a new way to prevent strokes and heart disease.
As a biological dentist, I believe the therapy outlined above provides an excellent opportunity to create healthy teeth and gums for your overall health. I encourage dentists to promote this concept of biological periodontal therapy to protect our patients in a more holistic fashion.