Since 1997, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and listen to many dental practitioners who also share my philosophy regarding biological dentistry and holistic health care. Below is an article written by Dr. Dan Rosen, DDS, CCN, who dedicated the last 20 years of his dental career to helping people improve their dental health and general well-being. I hope you will find this as interesting as I did when I first read it. If you would like more information regarding this article or your dental health, please contact our office.
A Mouth Full of Evidence
By Dan Rosen, DDS
Compiled and Edited by Suzanne Jenkins
The only place you can see your skeleton is when you smile or open your mouth. 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 biological 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 inflammatory reaction and connective tissue breakdown both in the mouth and elsewhere.
If your diet deviates 10% from your biological norm, it may show up first as dental disease inflamed gums or dental decay. If it deviates more, you may get arthritis, even more and you may suffer a heart attack or get cancer. These diseases often indicate a lifestyle and diet for which your body is no longer able to compensate.
Primary prevention is best
Being Western in my formal training, I find that a dental examination, including lifestyle interview, diet and a blood chemistry, gives me the best understanding of how to help you toward excellent health, Blood is an easy-to-do biopsy that shows the current state of balance among many different well-known, well-documented indicators of body function.
In dentistry, as in medicine, there is little primary prevention. The American Dental Association’s position on dental disease is that it is primarily caused in the mouth by bacterial plaque. Only lip service is given to diet. Standards of care dictate that most people have their teeth checked once or twice a year with scrapings by the hygienist. Like pap smears, mammograms, and PSA’s, this routine examining and scraping amounts to early detection of disease, not true primary prevention.
Susceptibility to dental problems, cancer, heart disease, and a host of other chronic disorders can often be seen well in advance. If I see tartar in the mouth, I know it is likely to be building up in the cardiac arteries. So here is someone who is possibly at an increased risk for heart attack but we have advance notice to do all kinds of good things to prevent it.
Trends in chronic disease
It is generally accepted that we live longer today than our grandparents did at the beginning of the century. This may in part be attributed to high-tech advances in medicine which have fought off some diseases and their symptoms. However, as we approach the end of the twentieth century, we see an alarming increase in virtually all chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Looking at some of the differences between our two eras, we find that early on people ate eggs for breakfast and used butter, not margarine or other trans-fatty acids. They walked because there were no cares. They went to bed at sunset. Obesity was not a problem. Sweets were a luxury.
Americans now consume 150 pounds of sugar per person per year. This fact goes virtually unreported in the news media. Articles promoting high carbohydrate (often laced with hidden sugars), low protein and low to no-fat diets reflect the current politically driven trend in nutrition.
Insulin is a key
As a dentist and oral health practitioner, I believe this latest dietary fashion is a move in the wrong direction! Besides, it make many people fat. Carbohydrates, along with excessive calories, result in the production of too much insulin. Insulin is a hormone which causes you to deposit and retain excess calories as fat. Pigs are omnivorous and share similarities in their metabolism to humans. Farmers don’t fatten their pigs on eggs and butter; they fatten them on grains, like corn.
Virtually all dental problems, including decay, gums and joints (TMJ), are associated with diets containing excess carbohydrates. Included are simple carbohydrates and many complex ones, like puffed rice, which possess a high glycemic index. Glycemic index refers to how quickly these dietary carbohydrates convert to blood sugar after you eat them. This in turn determines how quickly blood sugar rises before insulin can help regulate this newly sweetened blood. Here, it is important to note that blood sugar is the brain’s primary source of fuel and it demands a well regulated, steady supply.
Blood sugar stability – key to dental health
Bacteria which cause decay, gum disease, root canals, cavitations and virtually all other infective bacterial-based ailments, do so in an anaerobic mode. Diminishing blood sugar regulation, along with a sedentary lifestyle, hampers the healthful aerobic burning of fuel. Aerobic metabolism naturally produces a neutral-to-alkaline environment via the mitochondrial Krebs cycle.
Anaerobic burning of sugar, not associated with the mitochondria, results in chronic lactic acid production and decreases energy output. Over time, your body transforms itself into an acid, anaerobic culture medium which encourages disease-causing bugs to take root. As these oxygen-averse creatures naturally inhabit the mouth, dental diseases are the first of the degenerative diseases to take hold.
The secret is to eat an adequate protein, moderate carbohydrate and moderate fat diet which stabilizes blood sugar. In summary, gums deteriorate when blood sugar fluctuates rapidly, potentiating both anaerobic and acid conditions. Hypoglycemic and diabetic individuals are therefore very susceptible to severe gum and dental disease.
Additionally, tooth decay originates internally from demineralization due to the impact that carbohydrates have on overall hormone balance. This is why adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly suffer the highest rates of dental decay. Tooth decay has much less to do with how often you brush and floss than are led to believe.
All dental work will prematurely fail if the patient doesn’t control a sweet tooth, regardless of its age or quality. Dentists are limited in how much mechanical repair they can do to teeth and gums before it becomes too late.
Free calcium: Friend or Foe
Ninety-nine percent of your calcium is tied up in your bones and teeth. Where the remaining one percent resides will strongly influence whether you mature with vitality or age decrepitly. Your free calcium may be calculated using a standard blood test. This free calcium is not to be confused with dietary calcium from diary or other food sources. Essentially, it is hormonally displaces calcium used by the body to buffer excess acid.
Virtually all chronic diseases involve an inappropriate shift in free calcium. Tooth decay involves a loss of calcium, forming cavities. Gum disease often involves bone loss with calcium displacements called tartar or calculus. Calcifying or hardening of the arteries which leads to senility, heart attack and stroke as well as kidney and gall stones, all involve free calcium. Arthritis, cataracts and osteoporosis also involve displaced calcium. Even excessive cholesterol levels may be free calcium induced.
Cancer and free calcium form an ominous partnership. Cancer cells may be differentiated from healthy cells by the large buildup of free calcium in their membranes. In fact that’s how mammograms work. The calcium-clogged cancer cells block the X-rays, thereby revealing the tumor.
In the mouth, this free calcium may show up as tartar on your teeth. Tartar in the mouth is akin to an arthritic joint – it is the result of a gum disease process, not the cause. In general, only those individuals who are displacing calcium inappropriately form tartar.
Tartar buildup is so common in our culture that it is actually considered normal! Patients are routinely encouraged to see their dental hygienists at least twice a year to have this crustaceous mass scraped from their teeth. Unfortunately, they can’t scrape it off their arthritic joints, clogged arteries or pre-cancerous cells.
Mercury from your molars
Besides the health problems associated with consuming excessive carbohydrates and calories, as well as the dark side of free calcium excess, there is the issue of mercury leaking from fillings. Some people may be reactive to this mercury.
Amalgam fillings contain 50% mercury. Concerned by the fact that mercury leaks from all “silver” amalgam fillings, I stopped using them in 1982. Since then I have studied this issue closely and have worked diligently to protect my patients, staff and self from potential harm.
The American Dental Association claims that the mercury you receive from your fillings is quite harmless for the majority of Americans. However, the ADA, has gone on record stating that the dentist, no the ADA, is legally responsible if anyone is harmed by amalgams or any other product used by dentists.
If you suspect that mercury may be a problem, advanced diagnostic help is on the way. The new FDA-approved mercury porphyry profile test, as modified by Dr. James Wood, is considered the most reliable means of determining general toxicity from low-level mercury exposure. It will replace the older porphyry and obsolete blood and urine mercury tests that have been previously used for this purpose.
For people interested in having their mercury fillings removed, it is important to know that, although many people have experienced life-changing improvements of persistent health problems, this removal does not guarantee alleviation of any specific symptoms or recovery from irreparable cell and organ damage.
A growing number of doctors fell that symptom remission following amalgam removal is based on a complete body chemistry / detoxification program, because one’s ability to excrete mercury from the tissues may relate closely with the degree of remission experienced.
If history repeats itself, we may see dental mercury take a similar path to that of asbestos, lead and DDT. Only after evidence became overwhelming, and the legal liability was impossible to ignore, were these materials finally regulated or withdrawn from the market.
Note: The International Academy of Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has published a protocol for dentist to follow to protect you against potentially high levels of mercury exposure during dental procedures. Consult with your dentist regarding these issues.
What you can do now?
The good news is that the preventive dentist or physician can help. With oral examination, interview and blood work, the problem(s) may be identified and appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes suggested. In general, here are some helpful guidelines.
First: Eat a solid breakfast with adequate protein. If this is not part of your routine, your blood sugar stability is suffering. Poor sleeping patterns generally ensue as your clock-sensitive organs are thrown out of kilter and a continuous state of jet lag sets in. Your desire to eat breakfast diminishes. Years of interviewing my patients and those of periodontists revealed that people with seriously stressed gums and teeth do not eat breakfast.
Second: Drink plenty of water and add a little lemon. The citric acid will kick-start your energy-producing Krebs’s cycle, while alkalizing your colon. This helps put the brakes on blood that is too acid. It’s also an excellent source of potassium, avoiding the sugar from eating bananas. Regular indulgence in fermented foods such as yogurt, and tempeh helps keep your friendly bacteria intact. Two bowel movements a day keep your system clean.
Third: Exercise will improve everyone’s blood chemistry profile. Dr. Barry Sears, Ph. D., author of the best seller, The Zone, feels that as little as six hours of walking a week may do the trick. So get with it. Walking before breakfast helps greatly to stabilize your insulin levels and best controls blood sugar. Walking at noon in full sunlight gives you plenty of ultraviolet light to reset your biological time clock for a better night’s sleep and a more positive attitude.
Information to transformation
We have moved beyond the industrial age into the age of information. We now need to move into the age of integrity and transformation. The root word, doctor, literally means teacher. Doctors need to become caring, high-level information sorters, helping their patients find and implement the best solutions to their health problems.
The gold standard of health must replace the current standard of disease. When this happens, the movement toward preventative medicine will shift the responsibility for health more on one’s personal behavior, lessening the dependency on the physical science of surgery and drugs. Those people who have embraced the alternative health care movement are already advancing toward this goal.
A healthful, interdependent relationship between doctor and patient is what an ever-increasing number of people are now demanding. When doctors do not take enough personal interest and time to form some emotional and spiritual bond, dissatisfied patients may resort to lawyers to gain their attention.
Forces of Change
Several converging forces are changing the face of the American health care system. Traditional “fix and repair” doctors are outpricing themselves in the current insurance-driven business of disease care. Simultaneously, patients are being empowered through an expanding web of health education and self-care information. Their utilization of an increasingly accessible array of professional health care alternatives and lay community support services, is sending a powerful message to the medical industrial complex.
The established powers of doctor-centered medicine are being called upon to either embrace these changes or suffer further alienation from the institutions and the people they serve.