When I first became exposed to the literature about the systemic links between dental problems and other health conditions, I was absolutely flabbergasted. Eventually I started testing my patients for dental issues. It was astounding. For every case of cancer, severe unmanageable diabetes, chronic infections, there was always a dental issue. I have exploring this link now for almost 12 years of my twenty years in practice and the evidence continues to stack up.
Over the last ten years there has been a growing body of evidence linking periodontal disease and systemic diseases. Every day new research is making the link stronger. Periodontal infection is the advanced stages of gum disease that causes bone loss. The bone loss is irreversible. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and with early detection, treatment and proper oral hygiene can be reversed. Periodontal infection has been associated with other systemic disorders that would not on the surface appear related.
Periodontal disease is a potential risk factor for:
* infective endocarditis (damaged heart valves)
* cardiovascular diseases (arteriosclerosis, coronary thrombosis ischemic heart
* respiratory problems
* pancreatic cancer
* behavioral and psychosocial status
Not only is there an indirect link between periodontal infections and systemic disorders, but periodontal disease is infectious or communicable and can be passed between family members. It makes sense that infection in the mouth can find its way to other parts of the body. Initially it was thought that the bacteria in the mouth that cause periodontal disease were directly infecting different sites in the body, like the heart or lungs or artificial implants. This is true. However, there is more to it than that.
The body recognizes the bacteria in the mouth as a chronic infection and uses its defense mechanism to fight it. The body calls upon itself to manufacture blood constituents, such as neutrophils, eosinophils, and mast cells, to physically fight the infection. This process occurs with all infections. The problem is that as an infection becomes chronic, the body continues to manufacture these blood constituents, and release a pseudo hormone called c-reactive protein. It is this protein that inflames the internal walls of the arteries and compromises blood flow in areas that may have a predisposition.
Tooth problems are at the root of a wide variety of acute and chronic health conditions and dental foci account for a large proportion of regulatory blockages. Teeth lie on the acupuncture meridian lines of the body and problem teeth can create havoc further up or down the line.
Probably the most common problem found on dental exams is a mouth full of amalgam fillings. Amalgam literally means “mixed with mercury,” and mercury accounts for 50 percent of dental-filling material. Excepting plutonium, mercury is probably the most toxic element known, and while it has been used in dental fillings for more than 160 years, its use has always been controversial. Beginning in the 1830s, when it was first introduced, then again in the 1920s, and most recently in the 1970s, many dentists, doctors, and scientists have argued that mercury leaches out of the filling material and accumulates in body tissue. The most common sites of detrimental influence are the nervous system, brain, and kidneys. Many research studies now confirm amalgam-filling leaching. In his book, It’s All in Your Head, Dr. Hal Huggins lists five categories of medical problems associated with mercury toxicity from amalgams:
Neurological disorders: including tremors, seizures, MS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s;
Emotional disturbances: including depression and anxiety;
Immunological diseases: including systemic lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis;
Cardiovascular problems: including unexplained heart pain, high and low blood pressure, tachycardia, and irregular heart beat;
Connective tissue disorders; including osteroarthritis and collagen disease.
Other disorders: including chronic fatigue, mental confusion, and digestive problems.
Root canal-treated teeth present another common dental problem. Studies done in the 1930s by Dr. Weston Price, a well-known dental research scientist, showed that root canal-treated teeth are always infected, even if the infection is sub symptomatic. He did a series of experiments in which he placed the root canal-treated teeth of his patients who had degenerative diseases, under the skin of laboratory animals, usually rabbits. In almost every case the animal came down with the very same disease as the patient. He would then place a healthy, non-root canal-treated tooth under the skin and the animal remained healthy. His studies revealed that very toxic bacterial forms are associated with root canal-treated teeth.
Have you seen your dentist recently? I have.