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Is your dentist your primary healthcare provider? Statistics suggest that more people visit dentists than doctors throughout the course of their lives. The reason is simple. Many dental problems worsen to the point where they can’t be ignored — whereas other chronic health problems often progress silently, un-noticed until the situation becomes serious.
But dental care has a much greater impact than simply alleviating pain. Research continues to demonstrate connections between poor dental and gum health and the incidence of specific diseases such as heart disease, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. And as more integrative doctors, dentists and healthcare providers recognize these important relationships, we can see a gradual expansion in preventive medicine protocols that emphasize holistic dental and gum care.
The Mouth-Body Connection
One of the most common degenerative dental conditions is periodontitis (periodontal) disease. Mild to moderate periodontal disease is estimated to affect one out of two Americans over the age of 30. This gum condition is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Bacterial infection spreads below the gum line and gums can begin to separate from teeth, forming pockets where bacteria multiply. Over time, connective tissue and bone that hold teeth into place can deteriorate.
Clinical research suggests strong links between periodontal disease and chronic, systemic inflammation throughout the body. In addition, studies have demonstrated the links between periodontal disease and cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, allergies, reduced immunity and other conditions. Infectious bacteria and toxins produced in an unhealthy oral environment can spread to other areas of the body — one reason why people with certain forms of heart disease are prescribed antibiotics as a preventive measure.
Natural Solutions For Oral And Overall Health
Of course, regular brushing, flossing and visits to your dentist are essential for maintaining oral health. But equally important is your diet. Recent studies examining the diets of our ancestors suggest that modern eating habits have dramatically reduced our healthy oral bacteria populations that fight dental infections. Instead, most modern mouths harbor an overabundance of pathogenic, harmful bacteria that feed on the processed sugars and grains ever-present in today’s diets. For the best tooth-friendly foods, choose low-sugar, whole-food items, particularly nutrient-dense vegetables, and avoid processed and refined foods. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water to stay hydrated and prevent bacteria from becoming extra sticky and difficult to remove.
Supplements For Oral Health
Probiotics: As I mentioned, dental health issues of today can be traced partly to lower levels of healthy probiotic bacteria in the mouth. Research continues to highlight the extensive roles probiotics play in supporting and maintaining numerous areas of health beyond digestion alone. In the case of dental health, a number of probiotic strains are shown in published research to support healthy oral bacteria and fight throat and respiratory infections. A strain called BLIS K12 (Streptococcus salivarius) is a key component of a healthy oral bacterial environment. When taken as a supplement, BLIS K12 can help fight pathogenic infections in the mouth and reduce inflammation. BLIS K12 and additional beneficial bacterial strains are also helpful to the immune system and numerous other areas of health.
Pure honokiol extract: Honokiol is an active phytochemical extracted from the bark of the Magnolia officinalis tree, an ancient staple of traditional Chinese medicine. Honokiol has been extensively researched over the past decade and has demonstrated important health benefits, including strong infection-fighting actions to maintain periodontal health. It is also a powerful antioxidant that supports a balanced inflammation process while helping regulate normal cell function. A number of natural oral care products containing honokiol are currently in development; and honokiol continues to be studied for its powerful health-promoting benefits, including remarkable cellular health support.
Tibetan Herbal Formula: This powerful herbal formula has been shown in more than 30 published clinical trials to support immunity, maintain healthy inflammation responses and promote circulation. In the area of dental health, published clinical research shows that this unique blend of herbs and extracts helps fight inflammation and infection in the teeth and gums, and it may reduce the need for root canals. Clinical experience with this formula mirrors these study results, suggesting that its powerful immune support and healthy circulation effects makes this formula one of the most important for oral and dental health.
Vitamin D3: The importance of vitamin D3 in numerous areas of health, including bone health, continues to be validated in published studies. In the case of oral health, some research has linked low levels of this vitamin to periodontitis. One study has shown that vitamin D3 may support periodontal health in people with diabetes. Vitamin D3 is also important for immune function, cellular function, bone health and a number of other important health areas.
These self-care measures can make a significant difference in promoting dental health, reducing cavities and supporting overall oral health. But they are also excellent natural remedies that help fight against chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, while promoting stronger immunity, vitality and wellness. As the connections between oral health and long-term general health continue to gain greater scientific substantiation, we may find that more dentists and dental care providers offer whole-body recommendations such as the ones mentioned here. Such natural solutions provide a comprehensive, holistic approach to long term dental and overall health — ultimately a win-win situation for everyone.
For more practical health information, visit www.dreliaz.org.