It’s Not Just Your Gums

January 30, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

What if there was a way to tell if you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency? If you have a compromised immune system? Does the body give us a way to find clues about our general health long before we would normally sense these conditions?

Yes, it’s called your mouth.

Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but your mouth is the mirror of your body’s health. Think about it! The mouth is the only internal organ we can see. When you open your mouth, we can see your tongue, your gums and your teeth, all of which can give us a great deal of information about your health. (1)

Science shows that the gums are a major entry point for microorganisms to invade the rest of the body.

  • Over 90 years ago, Charles Mayo found that people who keep their teeth live an average of ten years longer than people who do not.
  • United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, said in her address of 2000:

“The terms oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities. Oral health is integral to general health; this report provides important reminders that oral health means more than healthy teeth, and that you cannot be healthy without oral health.” (2)

Why the mouth?

Most of what we consider diseases of the oral cavity might actually be:

  • Symptoms-body balance
  • Tooth decay
  • Periodontal
  • An easy way to determine health

Periodontal disease may result from the following:

  • Not getting the proper nutrients in your diet. (3-7)
  • Not properly absorbing nutrients. (8-10)
  • Excessive stress – CA literature review, published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), saw a strong relationship between stress and periodontal diseases; 57% of the studies included in the review showed a positive relationship between periodontal diseases and psychological factors such as stress, distress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. (11-13)
  • Hormonal imbalances – some glands may not be functioning properly. (14-16)

A Strong Immune System Means Healthy Gums and Teeth

  • When your immune system is not functioning properly, your resistance to bacteria is low. What starts out as tooth decay or periodontal disease can, according to new research, result in everything from heart attacks and strokes to diabetes.

Inflamed Gums Linked to Heart Disease

  • New research shows proper dental hygiene can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart disease independently of other measures, such as managing cholesterol. Something as simple as taking good care of your teeth and gums can greatly reduce your risk of developing serious diseases. (17)

Periodontal disease is associated with over 40 other diseases including:

Heart Disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases, cancers, osteoporosis, both obesity and weight loss, as well as stomach ulcers.

  • Premature, Low-Birthweight Babies – At the University of Alabama, researcher Marjorie Jeffcoat recently discovered that among 120 women in rural Alabama, those with dental infections were 3 times more likely to have premature, low-birth weight babies than women with healthy teeth and gums. (18, 19)
  • Stroke –Arnin Grau, M.D., of the Department of Neurology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany discovered that poor dental status resulting from chronic dental and bone infection was associated with a stroke increase of two and one-half times over patients without periodontal disease. “In stroke cases, only the dental factor is causative and significant.”
    • If your gums are infected, you triple your risk of having a stroke, according to a 1998 study of 166 stroke victims at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
    • In yet another study conducted at the University of Buffalo, researchers surveyed the health history of 9,982 people from 25 to 75 years old and found that the 35% with severe gum disease were twice as likely to have a stroke. (20, 21)
  • Heart Disease – According to a study conducted by the University of Buffalo, the same bacteria causing gum problems, ends up either directly infecting your heart arteries or otherwise causing blockages in them.
    • At the University of Michigan (UM), Dr. Walter Loesche reported that patients with periodontitis were much more likely to have cardiovascular disease, even after accounting for all other causes, such as smoking, cholesterol, triglycerides and obesity. Total mortality was two and one-half times greater. (22)

So why would gum disease cause such severe problems?

Periodontal disease is related to increased levels of C-Reactive Protein. Toxins, which are generated as waste by periodontal bacteria get into the blood and trigger the liver to make more C-Reactive Protein. Studies have shown that those with moderate or advanced perio disease have much higher levels of C-Reactive Protein than those that do not have periodontal disease (23-24)

  • “To reduce levels of CRP. It’s important to get your gums treated.” Supplementation is also a must.
  • OsteoporosisResearchers are starting to use bone scans to compare the bone density of the hip to that of the bone surrounding the teeth. Preliminary results indicate that, as dental bone density decreases, so does hip bone density. This is a major problem for Aging Boomer population. (25)
  • Treating Gum Disease Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers –People, who suffer from gum disease and also have a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis reduced their arthritic pain, number of swollen joints and the degree of morning stiffness when they cured their dental problems. (26)
  • Diabetics –Robert Genco, chairman of Oral Biology Department at SUNYAB, said, “Diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease.” His studies show that treating periodontal disease may reduce a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. Dr. Christopher Saudek, a diabetes specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, recently told an interviewer that “people with diabetes should be careful to keep their gums healthy.” He worried that gum disease is evidence of a poorly working immune system, making it easier for bacteria from the mouth to spread. According to the American Diabetes Association, over 20 million Americans have diabetes. (27-29)
  • • A study from Japan concluded that treatment of periodontal disease may reduce the development of diabetes.
  • Obesity and Weight Loss –Sara Grossi, clinical assistant professor of oral biology and director of the UB Periodontal Disease Research Center states, “Acute infections cause metabolic disturbances, and periodontal disease is one of humankind’s most common chronic infections. In this case, we think bacteria from gum disease may interfere with fat metabolism, leading to elevated LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. (30-32)
  • Pneumonia and Respiratory Diseases – Pneumonia is the number one cause of death in nursing homes and the leading cause of death in those over 65. It is recognized that pneumonia and lung abscesses can result from the same bacteria that cause periodontal disease. (33, 34)
  • Cancer – According to US researchers, men with gum disease have a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Gum disease may also be linked to breast cancer. Released in January 2007, the Harvard-based study suggests mouth bacteria and the body’s attempt to fight them, may produce carcinogenic chemicals which trigger disease. A British and American research team studied the health records of 50,000 patients from data collected over 21 years. There was a 33% increase in the risk of lung cancer, 50% rise in the risk of kidney cancer, and a 30% higher incidence of blood cancers, such as leukemia, among those with gum disease. Chronic advanced gum disease was the most frightening –with an additional four fold increase in head and neck cancer for each millimeter of related bone loss around teeth.” (35)

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

  • Brushing causes bleeding gums;
  • Bad breath;
  • Soft Swollen or tender gums;
  • Pus appears when you put pressure on the gums;
  • Loose teeth;
  • Receding gums;
  • Bite changes due to teeth shifting;
  • No Symptoms— While there are definite symptoms relating to gum disease, a lack of symptoms does not mean you’re ok.

Here are what appear to be some healthy teeth

Yet when we place a dye to show bacteria, take another look

Could periodontal disease be the first warning sign of the body being out of balance leading to more serious problems?

  • Plaque & Calculus
    • The bacteria form colonies. The body’s natural immune system comes to the rescue with inflammatory compounds to kill the bacteria. If the immune system becomes weakened due to poor nutrition, diseases such as diabetes, or even advancing age, red gums and bleeding gums are the result. This is a warning of the dangers to come.
  • Gingivitis
    • The body’s immune system starts to turn on itself and begins to form deep pockets. The bacteria transform from normal air breathing oral bacteria to dangerous pathogenic “anaerobic” bacteria which prefer an oxygen free environment. Standard home care can no longer get into the deep pockets and keep you well.
  • Periodontitis
    • The pathogenic bacteria move into the bloodstream increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, pre-term birth and cancer.

The disease has now put your overall health at risk.

At this point even normal tooth cleaning carries a risk of spreading bacteria called “bacteremia” to the rest of the body.

The bone is now attacked by the autoimmune process, much like arthritis, causing eventual tooth loss. 70% of all tooth loss is because of periodontal disease.

  • Advanced Periodontitis

While often the answer to tooth loss is replacement by implants, healing interference can result in implant failure. Significant bone loss makes implant and denture replacements impossible.

At this point the only remedy may be implants with bone grafting to repair the damage that has been done

Unlike a cold, periodontal disease isn’t going to go away on its own.

Poor nutrition accompanied by poor brushing and flossing are the most typical cause of periodontal disease.

This allows dental plaque and calculus to build up: the perfect home for bacteria. Other causes can be genetic pre-disposition, hormone change, failing dental restorations, or tooth crowding (mal-occlusion).
 The diet of the average American is cause for great concern in both the medical and dental communities. We are eating excessive amounts of fats, starches, and sugars (diets high in trans-fats and simple and complex sugars).

Look at what is happening:

  • 19% of 6-11 year old kids were obese in 2004, in 1971 it was 4%
  • 32% of all kids today are overweight
  • 90% of all overweight children have at least one avoidable risk factor for heart disease and/or diabetes

“But I eat the right foods!”

Even if you have the best diet, no stress in your life, and live a pollution free environment the question remains: How old is your Food?

  • The average distance your food travels to get to you is 1,400 Miles
  • Most people have food that is at least five days old. What is the nutritional value of five day old food??

The body has three different metabolic periods, which cycle through every 24 hours.

  • Elimination and maintenance cycle: From 4 am to noon,the cells of the body are dumping waste products, and manufacturing and/or repairing cells.
  • Digestive cycle:From Noon to 8 pm, the body’s metabolism is geared to digestion.
  • Assimilation cycle: From 8 pm to 4 am, the body is sending nutrients to cells.

Since digestion of foods demands a tremendous amount of energy, it would make sense to eat the biggest meal our body can digest between noon and 8 pm. The earlier within this timeframe, the better.

  • What time did you eat dinner last night? What time are you eating tonight?

How healthy do you want to be?

  • Studies are beginning to establish the potential health benefits of drinking green tea, especially in weight loss, heart health, and cancer prevention. (36)
  • A study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology, found that subjects who regularly drank green tea had superior periodontal health than subjects that consumed less.
  • Today, during the 87th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, scientists discovered a new family of biologically active products of omega-3 fatty acids with the therapeutic potential to resolve periodontal inflammation and restore the gums to health.

Sources of Omega Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 Omega-6
  • Salmon, sardines Safflower Oil
  • Flaxseeds, flaxseed oil Sesame seeds
  • Green, leafy vegetables Soybeans
  • Soybeans Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts Evening primrose oil

 

  • The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES III) study from 9,862 individuals reveals how important good nutrition and supplementationis to dental health. The most impressive statistic was that low selenium levels increased the risk of gum disease by thirteen times.Low levels of vitamins A and C also increased the risk of gum disease.
  • A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who get enough calcium have significantly lower rates of periodontal disease, a leading cause of tooth loss.
  • Low selenium levels increased the risk of gum disease by thirteen times. 200 mcg fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of dietary fiber. Foods high in vitamin C should be consumed daily. Vitamin C is important in maintaining healthy gums, and supplementation may also be needed. Calcium and magnesium supplementation is recommended to minimize the loss of bone in progressive gum disease.
  • Other nutrients important for gum health include vitamin A (and beta carotene), zinc, vitamin E, selenium, and flavonoids such as quercetin, catechin, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. The flavonoids can be found in bilberry, hawthorn, grape seed, green tea, in many fruits (especially citrus), and vegetables.
  • CoQ10 is found naturally in many foods (sardine, mackerel, spinach, broccoli). After the age of 35, we begin to slow down our natural ability to synthesize CoQ10 from foods and develop a deficiency gradually.

Supplementation – Based on the American diet, I feel that this is a must! Most of us simply don’t have the time or the resources to get fresh food on a year round basis.

How many times are you at a restaurant? I know it’s good but not the best foods

Here is what I use for my main source of supplements

Suggested morning drink

  • Hemp Almond or rice milk
  • Vital Boost, 1 scoop

While there are many adequate nutritional supplements available. I developed Vitalboost for myself and my patients because I wanted a multi-vitamin and mineral super food, that would be a rich source of immune enhancing, anti-aging nutrients supporting normal function and structure in our electro-magnetically polluted environment. Also it’s a simple fact that you cannot get the nutrients you need from food. Strange, but true. This formulation is also designed to help promote a health mouth. When you consider the fact that people with gum disease are four times more likely to get heart attack or stroke, it becomes more important to have a good superfood. I’m also not fond of powders that tasted like grass— Vitalboost is a pleasant tasting powder that can be taken with any water or any juice. I take Vitalboost with hemp or almond milk. It’s a delicious breakfast and helps keep my weight down. For good health and a longer life enjoy Vitalboost

Yours in Health,

Victor Zeines DDS

Visit VitalBoost.com to learn more.

Add to morning drink— you can get these at vitacost.com

  • Goji berry powder 1/2 tsp. Nutrient rich to enhance health
  • Maca powder 1/2tsp Supports the endocrine system
  • Whey protein 1 scoop High quality source of protein
  • Flaxseed powder 1/2tsp Good source of Omega Fatty Acids

Eating a diet based on fruits and veggies, reducing stress, and taking the proper supplementation will help you live a longer healthier life.

Victor Zeines DDS, MS NatDent.com

____________________

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