By Michael G. Rehme, DDS, NMD, CCN
A recent dental journal article I read described, at length, the oral/systemic connection, i.e. the influence the teeth and gums have on the whole body (the “system”) and vice-versa. It referred to the overwhelming attention this topic is receiving in both the dental and medical literatures.
As an example, the common knowledge in dentistry is that, if left untreated, periodontitis (inflammation of the gums) causes progressive bone loss around teeth, looseness of the teeth and eventual tooth loss. Periodontitis is a very common disease affecting approximately 50% of U.S. adults over the age of 30 years.
As if that’s not bad enough, here’s an even stronger message. The author of the article listed numerous unfavorable effects of periodontitis on the rest of the body: heart disease, stroke, pulmonary dysfunction, preterm low-birth weight babies, osteoporotic diseases, diabetes mellitus, and even neuropathological syndromes such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Understanding the oral/systemic connection in the dental community is a huge breakthrough. I was excited to see what I have been practicing for many years finally come to light in a mainstream dental journal.
However, I was sorely disappointed. The article repeatedly focused on “preventative periodontal management” and the need to “maintain regular periodontal checkups.” By doing so, the article reported, potential systemic complications will be reduced significantly. What a disappointment. The article started with an incredibly important premise and totally avoided the real conclusion.
Ask yourself: If we continue to manage the condition, are we solving the problem? Chronic, systemic inflammation will persist throughout the body until we learn how to balance body chemistry. Proper body chemistry is imperative to good health. When your body is balanced, you’ll have good health. When your body is imbalanced, you’ll have disease.
Answer this: Where can you see your own skeleton? Seriously, you can see your skeleton. The answer: When you smile or open your mouth. Your teeth are the only visible part of your skeleton. Your mouth is the easiest place to see what is happening, not only to your teeth and gums, but to your health in general.
The junction formed by your teeth and the biologic seal around them is very sensitive to blood sugar, hormonal, immune, and stress changes, to name a few. This gummy junction serves as a good monitor of inflammation and connective tissue breakdown both in the mouth and elsewhere.
If your diet deviates 10% from your biologic norm, it may show up first as dental disease, inflamed gums, or dental decay. If it deviates more, you may get arthritis. Even greater deviation and you may suffer a heart attack or even get cancer. These diseases often indicate a lifestyle and diet which is not healthy and for which your whole body is no longer able to compensate.
Periodontal disease is a symptom that manifests itself along with other imbalances or chronic diseases that are occurring elsewhere in the body. There is a common link that may help solve most imbalances that lead to disease: nutrition.
Nutritional support is one step in the process of correcting imbalances in the teeth, gums, and body. As you understand the undeniable importance of this “oral/systemic connection, your motivation for nutritional support will dramatically increase.
Edited from original