By Michael G. Rehme, DDS, NMD, CCN
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 mouth but to understand the systemic effects that the mouth has on the rest of the body.
This relationship between oral and whole body health is bidirectional. Our biological practice incorporates this holistic concept.
The most important message we communicate to our patients is that 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 oral health – is to balance the chemistry of the body. Disease, no matter where it appears, is ultimately 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 nonsurgical approach to periodontal therapy.
Most people would prefer an alternative to the usual “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 usually requires 3 -5 visits to complete.
It starts with irrigating the entire mouth with an antimicrobial rinse that contains essential oils and herbs. These help reduce the introduction of microforms into the bloodstream before periodontal therapy begins.
Next, the periodontal pockets are treated as needed with gross debridement, root planing and scaling, and sub-gingival (below the gums) irrigation to eliminate the offending microforms and calculus.
Progress towards eradicating the disease is checked with our phase contrast microscope. This is a great visual display of bacteria and other microforms in the mouth which often motivates patients to continue the steps necessary for their improvement.
Each appointment ends with a full mouth irrigation using 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 the 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 mouth and body alike. Balancing your own body chemistry may be a longer phase of your therapy, depending on its current condition.
It may also 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!
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’s customized to ensure a successful outcome for years to come. This includes
- Regular hygiene checkups, every 3 – 4 months at first, then every 6 months.
- 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, preterm low birth weight babies, pregnancy gingivitis, stomach ulcers, diabetes, brain abscesses, prosthetic joint failure, sub-acute bacterial endocarditis, and more.
Did you know the risk of having a stroke is two and a half times greater for people with periodontitis? 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, as well, to protect our patients in a more holistic fashion.
Modified from the original