According to the American Dental Association approximately 75% of our population has periodontal problems. Based on my practice, and speaking to dentists around the country, I believe this figure is closer to 90%. In either case, these statistics have widespread implications for our general population. Do your gums bleed? Are they red or puffy? Has you dentist ever told you that you need to brush better or see the hygienist more frequently? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then you have some form of periodontal or gum disease. However because symptoms of gum disease are often silent until the later stages, you are likely to have gum disease even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.
What exactly is gum disease, or periodontal disease?
As part of the answer, we need to understand how teeth are held in the mouth. Teeth are not embedded in the jawbones but are totally surrounded by tissue called the periodontal membrane. Each tooth is totally surrounded by this tissue. The tissue acts as a shock absorber for the tooth. In a normal healthy mouth there is always a slight space between the tooth and the bone called a pocket, which is usually about 1-2mm (about an eight of an inch).
If the body is out of balance, usually too acidic from improper nutrition, plaque, or hard deposits will form on the teeth. These deposits allow for the growth of bacteria that cause inflammation of the gum tissue. The bacteria also release toxins that help break down the tissue, helping the infection to progress. As the infection progresses, the gum tissue becomes red instead of its normal healthy pink color and will get puffy. This early stage is called gingivitis and can include bleeding.
As the infection continues, bleeding will occur, especially when you floss or brush. Aside from these effects the bacteria migrate into the pocket and begin to destroy the periodontal membrane. The toxins produced by the bacteria will also destroy the bone in the immediate area. The effect of this is that the teeth involved are loosened and will eventually fall out. The supporting structures, having been completely destroyed at this stage.
While these local factors are causes of periodontal problems, they are not the main factors responsible. There are commercials on television that show how all the germs in the mouth are killed when certain mouthwashes are used. Periodontal dis-ease is not due to the presence of bacteria, but rather to the body being out of balance in such a way that the bacteria responsible for the inflammation are breeding out of proportion. Killing the bacteria is just part of the answer.
However this disease is not just about tooth loss but has widespread implications for your general health. Science is showing that the gums are a major entry point for microorganisms to invade the rest of the body.
Research associates Periodontal disease with over forty diseases, including:
- Heart Disease
- Stomach Ulcers
- Pneumonia and Respiratory Diseases
Indeed studies have shown that if you have periodontal disease you have three times the chance of getting a heart attack or a stroke.
Dr. Sara Grossi, clinical assistant professor of oral biology, 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.”
Periodontal disease is a symptom of the body being out of balance and in trouble. And while professional care must be done, there are a number of natural remedies that can be useful. While non-surgical periodontal therapy is based on each individual patient’s needs, here are some things you can do:
1. Diet analysis – This involves writing down everything you eat including the time and how much. For example, if you’re having eggs and toast for breakfast just writing down eggs and toast is not sufficient. Breakfast may be two eggs fried in butter with toasted white bread, filled with cream cheese and jam. Followed by two cups of coffee; no juice or vitamins. By keeping a complete record of what you are eating a few things happen:
- You become aware of what you eat
- You see how much you eat (most people are shocked at the amount of food they consume)
- You see when you eat
All of this is important because many problems with health can arise due to habitual eating habits. For instance, if you are eating a high protein meal shortly before bedtime, you can easily put yourself into an acid condition. This will lead to a shift in your mineral balance and could cause a host of health problems.
2. Go on a detoxification diet. If there are no medical problems that would require this be modified, a detoxification diet is the following:
Fruit – any type
Lunch – Monday, Wednesday and Friday
1 or 2 types of fresh fruit in season (berries, pineapple, apples, pears, grapes, peaches etc.) OR apricots OR figs, currants (dried fruit may be soaked) AND avocado
Lunch – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
Small RAW vegetable salad (must have romaine lettuce and sprouts plus two or three other vegetables) AND avocado or rice cakes or three ounces of raw nuts (almonds, filberts, walnuts, pecans)
Monday – Large RAW vegetable salad and baked potato or lentils or chickpeas. And, if needed, one steamed vegetable (cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc.)
Tuesday – Large RAW vegetable salad and baked yam or avocado.
Wednesday – Large RAW vegetable salad and baked potato or corn or lentils. And, if needed, one steamed vegetable.
Thursday – Large RAW vegetable salad and avocado or beans (garbanzo, fava, mung)
Friday – Large RAW vegetable salad and baked potato or corn or lentils. And, if needed, one steamed vegetable.
Saturday – Large RAW vegetable salad and brown rice and beans and lightly steamed diced vegetables.
Sunday – Large RAW vegatable salad and six ounces of ricotta cheese or pot cheese or cottage cheese. And, if needed, one steamed vegetable.
Lemon juice and oil and dulse or kelp.
If you cannot modify your diet 100%, come as close as possible. The more you do, the better you will feel and eventually, you will be able to enjoy this diet. Remember this is only for a month! After one month you may use this as a guide and add other foods. This diet will allow the body to become alkaline in a short period of time.I also place my patients on whole food supplementation. I prefer whole food supplementation to the normal multivitamins because they contain many factors not found in vitamins that have been processed. Beta carotene, one of the precursors to Vitamin A has long been known as a highly effective antioxidant. Indeed, Beta carotene is sold in health food stores all around the country. It would be more effective to get the carotene complex rather then just Beta, since research is showing that some of the other carotene factors such as gamma and alpha are even more active.
3. Baking Soda and Peroxide
Brush with baking soda and peroxide- this will help keep your mouth alkaline. Mix some peroxide into baking soda until its muddy, then use that as a toothpaste.
- Echinacea, golden seal and myrrh (equal amounts of each), then add to twice the amount of water
- Tea tree oil
- Calendula Tea
- Aloe vera juice good for tender gums
- Plantain and cinquefoil: get the powders and mix with water, then use as a rinse
Homeopathic remedies can also be helpful
- For bleeding gums – arsenicum album
- Hypericum for tender gums
While I have developed a proprietary supplement and mouthrinse for gum disease, the following can be helpful in combination: – Vitamin C: 2-4 gms/day take 500mg every few hrs
- Calcium: 400mg/day
- Vitamin E: 200IU/day
- Zinc: 30mg/day
- Magnesium: 200mg/day
- Vitamin B Complex: 25mg/day
- Co enzyme coQ10: at least 100mg/day
Supplements specific for periodontal disease can be found at www.periohealthplus.com
I would also recommend having any mercury fillings removed since they tend to weaken the immune system.
Source: Dr. Victor Zeines (DDS, MS, FAGD), www.natdent.com, www.periohealthplus.com