Toxins in your teeth

Holistic dentistry

Dr. Benjamin Rush, George Washington’s physician, was one of the first American doctors to recognize the connection between the teeth and the health of the rest of the body. He said, “I cannot help thinking that our success in the treatment of all chronic diseases would be very much promoted, by directing our inquiries into the state of the teeth in sick people.”

Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, each tooth is correlated to an acupuncture meridian and to specific organs and tissues within the body. In essence, the health of the teeth can accurately pinpoint (and cause) problems in the rest of the body. This dental/body relationship has been acknowledged by holistic physicians for decades. It is referred to as the odontosomatic relationship.

Western medicine does not acknowledge the odontosomatic relationship. Hence, the clues present in the teeth go unnoticed by most doctors and dentists. Also unacknowledged is the fact that bacteria from points of seemingly benign dental infection can migrate to the heart, kidney, eyes, brain, arthritic joints, and countless other body tissues, causing serious secondary infections. Unfortunately, many dentists are in the dark when it comes to taking care of your teeth, and many of the processes employed in dentistry do more harm than good. Unknowingly, patients are exposed to numerous toxins and to a variety of toxic procedures in the dental chair; they can have an effect on much more than just your teeth.

MERCURY AMALGAM FILLINGS

Mercury is an acute neurotoxin (toxic to the brain). It is the most toxic nonradioactive element and the most volatile heavy metal. In recent years, it has been removed from all health care uses, with one exception—dental fillings. Despite the fact that the American Dental Association still endorses the use of mercury in dental fillings, more than 50 percent of dentists have chosen to eliminate its use.

The term amalgam means mixture. Amalgam fillings contain between 49 and 54 percent mercury. They also contain silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Vast amounts of science have confirmed that these mercury-containing fillings release mercury far in excess of safe limits—and not just when the filing is first placed in the tooth. Mercury amalgam fillings release mercury vapors for the life of the filling, exposing the body to harmful amounts of mercury day after day. Children and pregnant women are especially at risk. In 1991, the World Health Organization acknowledged that the predominant source of human exposure to mercury was from dental fillings.

A recent video presentation sponsored by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, available online at http://iaomt.org/, shows the amount of mercury that is visible against a phosphorescent background, vaporizing from a twenty-five-year-old filling. The amount released is more than a thousand times greater than the established safe limit for the air you breathe. When rubbed with a pencil eraser (simulating chewing or brushing), even more mercury vaporizes. Every time you eat or drink—especially hot or acidic foods—every time you brush your teeth or chew gum, if you have mercury amalgam fillings you breathe excessive mercury vapors for more than an hour.

The history of the use of mercury fillings is a telling story. When mercury fillings were introduced in the United States by French entrepreneurs in 1833, reputable dentists considered the use of mercury in fillings to be the equivalent of malpractice. Any dentist who used the toxic mercury fillings was expelled from the American Society of Dental Surgeons. However, because these fillings were so inexpensive and so easy to use, dentists who were in favor of using the amalgam fillings left the society and formed the American Dental Association. This same organization still maintains that mercury amalgam fillings are safe—despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The following points outline the evidence against mercury amalgam fillings:

• Every amalgam filling daily releases approximately ten micrograms of mercury into the body (i.e., 3,000,000,000,000,000 mercury atoms per day).

• Mercury from fillings is distributed in all the organs and tissues, with heavy concentrations in the jaw, stomach, brain, kidneys, and liver.

• More than two-thirds of the excretable mercury in humans is derived from amalgam fillings.

• Mercury crosses the maternal placenta into the tissue of a developing fetus within two days. Fetal concentrations of mercury are higher than in the mothers.

• Mercury is capable of inducing autoimmune diseases.

• Mercury from fillings immediately and continually challenges the function of the kidneys.

• Mercury promotes an increase in antibiotic resistant intestinal flora.

• Sustained exposure to mercury from fillings increases the risk of lowered fertility.

• Mercury causes neuronal degeneration in the brain and is now suspected of being one of the major causal factors in Alzheimer’s disease.

Besides the obvious dangers of placing mercury in your mouth, the placement of amalgam fillings is more destructive to the tooth. Large amounts of tooth must be removed (even for a tiny cavity) when amalgam fillings are put in place. This is necessary so that the filling will stay.

Mercury accumulates over time unless the body has extra antioxidants and natural substances to physically remove it.

Methylated mercury

In the presence of bacteria (both the mouth and the intestinal tract are full of bacteria), mercury is methylated, which means that it is changed into a compound called methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is at least ten times more toxic than mercury—and much more difficult to remove from the body. Methyl mercury can rapidly destroy bone cells, invading weakened areas such as tooth abscesses and vulnerable parts of the jawbone. It accelerates the damage mercury causes and is a primary generator of dental infections.

Dental galvanism

Galvanism is another known but ignored dental occurrence. Galvanism is defined as the phenomenon in which two or more different metals that have been used to restore or replace missing teeth produce the flow of an electric current in the mouth. Galvanism is dramatically increased when gold, nickel, aluminum, or other metal in fillings, inlays, crowns, bridges, or braces are placed near an amalgam filling. The electric current that is generated increases the release of mercury by ten to twenty times. Placing gold crowns next to amalgam fillings or on top of amalgam fillings can generate between a hundred and a thousand millivolts of electricity.This causes anxiety, irritability, and other nervous disorders besides the increased release of mercury. Because amalgam fillings contain several metals, a certain amount of galvanism occurs with any amalgam filling and is amplified by the presence of other metals in the mouth.

Mercury and Alzheimer’s disease

The effects of mercury are lethal to brain tissue. Scientists at the University of Calgary in Canada were able to show rapid degeneration of neurons in the presence of even small amounts of mercury. These damaged neurons form “neurofibrillary tangles” that are consistently found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This is illustrated in a video available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImCpWzXJ_w. Further to this work, studies carried out at the University of Kentucky Center on Aging showed that tiny amounts of mercury block the synthesis of the major brain neural protein. Most holistic dentists consider the connection between mercury amalgam fillings and Alzheimer’s disease to be more than coincidence.

Mercury and the developing fetus

An unborn baby has no protection from mercury. Mercury is infinitely more toxic to the fetus and to a nursing baby than it is to an adult because there is no blood-brain barrier and there is no way for an unborn baby to eliminate mercury. In his book, The Poison in Your Teeth, Tom McGuire, DDS, explains that a child’s first exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings occurs at the moment of conception and continues throughout the entire gestation period if the mother has amalgam fillings. If a mother with amalgam fillings is nursing, her baby will ingest mercury during the entire nursing period too. According to Tom McGuire, the most significant factor in autism and other developmental disorders is the mercury released from amalgam fillings in the mother.

“The most potent combination of all is a child being exposed to large amounts of elemental mercury as a fetus and during nursing, and then to mercury from the full complement of vaccinations.”

—Tom McGuire, DDS, The Poison in Your Teeth

The mercury that is stored in a mother’s body is tightly bound. It poses little problem for an unborn baby. But the mercury that a mother is exposed to while she is pregnant (like the mercury vapor continuously being released from fillings) is mobile in her body and is likely to become bound in the tissues of the developing baby. Women contemplating a family should consider the removal of amalgam fillings well before conception. Most mercury-safe dentists do not recommend the removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy or nursing because of the amount of mercury that is released during removal.

Mercury and infertility

Mercury can also cause infertility. Most women with very high levels of mercury are infertile, yet following a mercury detoxification program they become fertile again. In men, mercury causes lower sperm counts, defective sperm cells, and lowered testosterone levels. In women, mercury causes menstrual disturbances, spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, and birth defects.

According to a 2001 report from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 10 percent of women of childbearing age had blood levels above the risk standard established by the World Health Organization. Those with levels above the risk standard were considered to be at significant risk of having children with developmental disabilities. If you are unsuccessfully attempting to have children, have your mercury levels checked before you spend thousands of dollars on fertility programs.

Removing amalgam fillings

Those who are serious about removing toxins from their bodies should consider having all amalgam fillings removed and replaced with less-toxic materials. Only when this ongoing source of mercury is removed can the body fully sense and release its stores of mercury and other heavy metals. Unfortunately, the process of amalgam removal releases large amounts of mercury vapor and mercury particles; those who are already sick should be cautious. Especially if you are sick, work with a health professional who can help you prepare and follow up afterward. At a very minimum, do what you can to fortify your immune system before you begin to have amalgam fillings removed. Do one quadrant of your mouth at a time and wait at least two or three weeks in between appointments—longer if you experience difficulty after your first appointment. It is important to support the detoxification process for three to six months following the removal of amalgam fillings. Dr. McGuire’s Web site is a good source of information:www.dentalwellness4u.com.

Select a holistic or biological dentist who will take the necessary precautions during amalgam removal, including the use of lots of water, chunking (the use of a special drill that allows large chunks to be removed rather than drilling the entire filling out), high-volume suction for the removal of vapor and filling material as quickly as possible, and an alternate source of breathable air during the procedure. Several online organizations have lists of holistic dentists from which you can choose (see sources).

If you cannot have your amalgam fillings removed right away, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of mercury that is released.

• Don’t chew gum—chewing stimulates mercury release for up to an hour.

• Don’t drink hot liquids—warm temperatures increase the amount of mercury released.

• Reduce snacking between meals—any chewing stimulates mercury release.

• Reduce the number of abrasive foods you eat, like nuts and chips.

• Eliminate acidic foods, especially soft drinks.

• Change the way you brush your teeth to avoid the chewing surface; focus on the margins where fillings meet the tooth. Get a soft tooth brush.

• Rinse your mouth with cool water after eating and brushing: this reduces the temperature and slows the release of mercury.

• If you grind your teeth at night, have your dentist fit you with a teeth guard. This one thing can reduce mercury more than any of the above suggestions.

• Stop smoking.

OTHER DENTAL FILLING MATERIALS

Research and development during the last few years have produced dental materials that are not only more biologically compatible but that are stronger and can actually reinforce the tooth. There are now several hundred different polymers that are superior to amalgam materials. These include composite materials as well as ceramic and glass-ceramic materials that are superior in strength and function. In addition, small decayed areas can now be treated with pin-point lasers or air particle beams to reduce the damage to the tooth. Lasers allow the material to be fused to the tooth. These newer techniques preserve the integrity and the health of the tooth.

Composite fillings

Fortunately, today there are alternatives to mercury amalgam fillings. The placement of tooth-colored, composite fillings preserves much more of the integrity of the tooth. However, there is no perfect dental filling material. None can be considered completely nontoxic. Materials known as composites are the most inert to date.

There are a number of composite materials in use today. Manufacturers often change the names of compounds in dental materials, so discuss the most recent filling materials with a holistic dentist to determine the best option for your circumstances.

DENTAL OZONE

In 2003, a revolutionary new way of handling tooth decay became available in many parts of Europe. Researchers at the Queen’s Dental Hospital and Belfast University, Ireland, pioneered a new technique that could virtually eliminate the need for dental drilling. Their research proved that ozone destroys bacteria in a decayed tooth. When caught early, no further treatment is necessary. Minerals from the patients own saliva are capable of remineralizing the treated, previously decayed area. Once hardened, the remineralized area is even more resistant to future decay.

Dental ozone is a completely new way of treating decay. The treatment is simple, inexpensive, and requires no drilling when decay is caught early. The correct operation of the technique meets all current health and safety regulations worldwide. Using modern dental diagnostic equipment available to most dentists, tooth decay can be caught at very early stages (before it is visibly seen). A simple sixty-second (average) burst of ozone, delivered to the isolated tooth, destroys all the bacteria that cause decay. Even if the area of decay is deeper, ozone can still play a role. Drilling may be necessary to remove the cover of enamel over the decay, but ozone can be used to sterilize the area without removing a large volume of tooth. When ozone is used to sterilize an area of decay, there is no sensitivity after the local anesthetic wears away. Ozone can even be used to eliminate sensitivity after new crowns or veneers are placed. Where the area at the neck of a tooth is sensitive, a simple forty-second application with ozone can often eliminate the sensitivity entirely. Ozone can also be used in the preparation of a root canal.

In the United States, Dr. Richard Hansen is using this new technique and has developed an educational training program for dentists. To find a dentist using this technique, visit www.functionaldentistry.org.

ANESTHETICS

There are many anesthetics used by dentists for numbing your mouth during dental work. Most are nerve toxins. The most common dental anesthetic used today is lidocaine.

In 1990, Dr. Alfred Nickel discovered that long-term numbness (paresthesis) experienced by some patients after dental procedures resulted from the breakdown of the local anesthetic into a known chemical poison—2,6 dimethylaniline. Lidocaine, as well as other dental anesthetics (including mepivacaine, bupivacaine, procaine), all break down in the body to compounds known as anilines.

Anilines belong to the chemical family of aromatic hydrocarbons. Other members of this family include the toxins benzene, phenol, hydroquinone, toluene, xylene, and napthalene. All of these are suspected carcinogens and have similar effects. Since the effect of anilines is cumulative, repetitive exposure can constitute a major, overlooked cause of cancer and other serious disorders. Dr. Nickel cites the following as support for this observation:

Our research team noted a curious and intriguing commonality among the thirty cancer patients evaluated at a recent meeting of the tumor board of one of the local hospitals. Each patient’s dental history was visualized on the total body scans (crowns, fillings, etc. produce shadows on the film). The total body scans clearly demonstrated that each of the patients had undergone from twelve to twenty-eight crown and bridge dental procedures, necessitating extensive exposure to local anesthetics. 

The amount of aniline resulting from routine clinical use of local anesthetics frequently exceeds the maximum daily occupational exposure (skin and lung exposure of 10 to 20 mg per cubic meter). A dentist may inject as much as 14 ml of lidocaine when doing a tooth extraction. This amounts to 140 mg of 2,6 dimethylaniline.

2,6 dimethylaniline is also one of the carcinogenic chemical components identified in tobacco.

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Injecting 1 cc of 2% lidocaine will result in the same aniline dose as smoking 94,000 unfiltered cigarettes!

In view of the suppressed information that has now surfaced regarding aniline toxicity, the widespread use of aniline-based local anesthetics in medicine and dentistry should be seriously reevaluated. Today, there are safer alternatives to lidocaine.

Most dental anesthetic solutions also contain adrenaline (epinephrine), and preservatives (methylparaban and sodium metabisulfite). Both adrenaline and preservatives add to the body burden when undergoing dental procedures. Epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor used to prolong the action of the anesthetic. It increases heart rate and anxiety for many patients and can result in local tissue death. Sodium metabisulfite is a sulfite that may cause allergic reactions including anaphylactic symptoms for those allergic to sulfur. Methyl paraben is a common preservative in personal care products known to have estrogenic effects.

Dr. Nickel developed an aniline-free dental anesthetic which was approved in 2000. It is known as articaine or septocaine. Unfortunately, it also contains epinephrine and sodium metabisulfite, but it is better for most people than lidocaine.

Another alternative is bupivacaine, which has been shown to have a lower aniline breakdown—by as much as 85 percent. Its effects last longer (your mouth may be numb for several hours longer than with traditional anesthetics), but it releases significantly less aniline. It is also available without preservatives or epinephrine and can be special ordered by dentists from Apothecure pharmacy (see sources).

ROOT CANALS

A root canal is the procedure where a hole is drilled and the pulp of the tooth is removed. The pulp is the tooth’s connection with the life forces of the body. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and lymph vessels. Removing the pulp kills the tooth. The pulp chamber is then cleaned and filled with an inert material and sealed.

The problem with root canals is that it is virtually impossible to completely seal off and sterilize the inner chamber of the tooth, which has miles of tubules that fan out perpendicular to the pulp chamber. During the root canal procedure, bacteria that are normally found in the tooth are sealed inside. They multiply inside the tubules and release toxins from the tiny hole in the bottom of the root or from micropores in the tooth. This is why a good portion of root canals eventually fail, requiring further, more serious intervention.

Having a root canal is an open invitation for further problems. Even though you may never experience pain or an abscess, infection from a root canal can cause symptoms in other parts of your body. This was eloquently demonstrated by Dr. Weston A. Price, who is considered to be the father of holistic dentistry. A female patient of his with severe arthritis had a root canal that appeared perfectly normal and showed no infection on x-ray. Dr. Price suspected that her arthritis was caused by the tooth and received permission to pull it. After being confined to a wheelchair for six years with crippling arthritis, the woman was able to walk again and even to do fine needlework.

More recently, Dr. George Meinig began his career as an endodontist (a dentist specializing in root canals). When he discovered Dr. Price’s research on root canals and the efforts to dismiss his work, Dr. Meinig quit his profession and dedicated the rest of his life to exposing the root canal cover-up. His book Root Canal Cover-Up is a must-read if you are considering having a root canal.

Never consent to a root canal without consulting a holistic dentist. In many cases, a deep cavity can be sealed with an inlay, an onlay, or a crown. Sometimes a tooth is structurally injured by a poor bite and can be saved with an oral appliance. The recent availability of ozone for use in the preparation of the root canal may be a godsend. Ozone is the best way to sterilize the root canal before sealing the tooth. When a tooth is positively beyond repair, the decision for how to proceed can be difficult. There are several options.

1. Traditional root canal. In the traditional root canal procedure, a substance called gutta-percha is used to fill the root canal. This is a latex substance with zinc oxide, barium, and traces of heavy metals (lead and cadmium). One of the biggest difficulties with gutta-percha is that it shrinks and allows bacteria to multiply and escape through the bottom of the tooth. Lead and cadmium may also escape.

2. EndoCal10. European dentists have been using a mineral compound to fill the root canal for more than thirty years. This compound is primarily composed of calcium oxide and zinc oxide and has the ability to expand into the dental tubules, sealing off these areas better than gutta-percha. This material, called EndoCal10, has also been shown to inhibit the growth of some anaerobic bacteria. Because it expands, it must be applied extremely carefully so as not to fracture the root of the tooth.

3. MTA. Another more recent material called mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) is medical grade, modified cement. It can be used to pack the terminal end of the root, providing a better seal, and then the rest of the root chamber is filled with Endocal10. This method shows the most promise, and bacterial growth is less likely.

4. Tooth extraction. Although tooth extraction is not a comforting option, it is often the best option.

DENTAL SEALANTS

During the last fifteen to twenty years, a popular treatment for children’s teeth has been the placement of sealants on the chewing surface. Sealants are intended to protect the tooth from decay by covering the tiny grooves and depressions where decay is most apt to begin. This procedure may initially prevent cavities. But there are things that parents are not told before they give consent to this procedure. Chances are your dentist may not even be aware of some of the risks.

Many dental sealants contain fluoride, which is released slowly in the mouth. Parents who have chosen not to have fluoride treatment for their children may end up getting it anyway, via the sealants. Some sealants are even intended to be recharged with fluoride. This is the case with the most popular sealant used today: UltraSeal XT plus.

Dental sealants also contain bisphenol A, known to have estrogenic effects. A study released in January 2000 reported that polymerization of sealants is not complete and that bisphenol A leaches into the mouth. Even the tiny amounts that are released from these sealants are enough to cause biological effects in experimental models.

Sealants, and most composite filling materials, are made with dimethacrylate—known to cause contact dermatitis. They are also suspected of neurological and respiratory damage. These sealants fall into the class of cyanoacrylate adhesives known as super glue. Their safety is being challenged when used in dental applications. Little work has been done concerning the toxicity of dental sealants. Likewise, their metabolism is unknown. Methacrylates have been shown to release toxic substances for at least two weeks. Dentists are being warned about the occupational hazards of these substances. What about the children who walk home with these substances on their teeth?

Teeth are filled with a matrix of tiny micropores called dentin tubules. These microscopic channels reach to the surface of the tooth and allow circulation between blood vessels and lymphatic tissues—they carry nutrients and expel wastes in much the same way your skin does. Dental sealants literally seal off the natural ability of the tooth to breathe. Sealing off this capacity is similar to wrapping your body in plastic—then allowing toxins (fluoride, methacrylate, and bisphenol A) to leach from the plastic into your body with a reduced capacity to expel them.

But perhaps the biggest difficulty with dental sealants is that if they are not placed with great care, decay can grow underneath the sealant where it is invisible—even to x-ray. This is more common than most dentists are willing to admit. If the tooth is not completely dry when the sealant is placed or if the curing (hardening) process proceeds too rapidly, the sealant tends to pull away from the tooth—just enough to allow bacteria in. Bacteria then grow in a protected environment. Even x-rays do not detect the decay until it has progressed enough to be significant. It is also quite common for a dentist to place a sealant over a microscopic area of decay. Some dentists use lasers to detect decay that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but not all dentists have this capacity.

Far too many children’s teeth have required root canals because the sealant gives a false sense of security. Progressive decay is not noticed until the damage is so severe that root canals are the only option. Be very careful if you decide to have your dentist apply sealants. In the long run, you may be better off teaching your children to stay away from sugar and to take personal responsibility for their health—especially their teeth.

TEETH WHITENERS

People are willing to go to great lengths for a white smile. Consequently, a vast array of pastes, gels, and strips are available to help you get the whitest teeth possible. Many of these products work at home; some are applied in the dentist’s chair. Most use carbamide peroxide and other caustic substances that can cause sensitive teeth, irritated gums, and other problems.

Drinking red wine, coffee, and tea can discolor your teeth. Dark pigments in cigarettes, blueberries, and other foods can also discolor teeth. Much of this superficial staining can be taken care of by regular brushing. But over time, stains can penetrate into the enamel where they cannot be removed by brushing alone. The antibiotic known as tetracycline can also discolor children’s teeth if taken during their early years when tooth enamel is still forming. Tetracycline is incorporated into the enamel and dentin of the tooth, leaving darker yellow and gray colors on the enamel. Many adults today have stained teeth as a result of antibiotics given when they were young.

To combat stains below the surface of the teeth, whitening gels containing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) were introduced in 1989. Hydrogen peroxide can diffuse through tooth enamel and into the dentin in about fifteen minutes. A close inspection of the labels of many of the whitening products on the market shows that they contain carbamide peroxide—a 1/1 compound of urea and H2O2. The carbamide peroxide formulation allows products to have a longer shelf-life. It also provides a slower release of the H2o2.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on carbamide peroxide says it is very hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive); that the amount of tissue damage depends on length of contact. As for data on carcinogenic effects, mutagenic effects, developmental effects, and developmental toxicity, no data are available—no one knows. Gels containing 10 or 20 percent carbamide peroxide are brushed directly onto teeth, or they may be delivered in a mouthguard-like tray, or embedded in an adhesive plastic strip that is stuck on the teeth. In professional procedures for teeth whitening, dentists use up to 35 percent H2O2. All of these procedures make some contact with the tissue of the gums.

Hydrogen peroxide itself is an oxidant; it releases free radicals as it decomposes. Free radicals can destroy healthy tissue. This is one reason why teeth whiteners cause gum irritation. It may also be the reason these whiteners cause tooth pain and tooth sensitivity. Several cases have been documented in which people have burned away excessive gum tissue by overusing tooth whitening products. Two clinical cases have been documented in dental literature where the use of an over-the-counter teeth whitener adversely affected the enamel of a person’s teeth. These cases involved whiteners that had a high peroxide content, an acidic prerinse, or the whitener itself was acidic. The tooth damage caused by these whiteners was irreversible.

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews reviewed twenty-five scientific publications on the use of teeth whitening products. Their concluding comments indicated that side effects (gum irritation and painful or sensitive teeth) were correlated with the concentration of active ingredient in the product, and that there were no studies to evaluate the possibility of long-term harm. Certainly this product, which is known to cause a high percentage of tooth pain, should be evaluated further before it is sold as safe and before it is made so widely available.

Ifyou choose to use a tooth whitening product or to have your dentist apply one, choose one with the lowest concentration of H2O2. Stop immediately if you experience pain or sensitivity. Pain and sensitivity are signals from the body that something is wrong. They should not be ignored. Remember, the tooth is a living organ with a vital function beyond just chewing food.

Homemade Teeth Whitener

A much gentler homemade teeth whitener is made by diluting food grade hydrogen peroxide (see sources) with distilled water at a rate of 10 to 1. Mix the peroxide dilution with a mixture of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part sea salt to form a paste. Brush your teeth with this once a week. The whitening process will take longer, but it will not cause harm to your teeth, and it will help prevent decay.

GINGIVITIS AND PERIODONTAL DISEASE

Gingivitis is caused by bacteria and plaque that build up in the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. It can lead to bad breath, bleeding, and receding gums. Left unchecked, gingivitis can also lead to the more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. This long-term infection can eventually cause deterioration of the bones in your jaw and eventual loss of teeth. Since gingivitis doesn’t usually cause pain, it often goes unnoticed. Initial signs include:

• gums that bleed when you brush your teeth

• red, swollen or tender gums

• gums that have pulled away from the teeth

• chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away

• loose teeth

• tooth aches

• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

Gingivitis is often a sign of poor oral hygiene. It can clear up in less than a week when teeth are regularly brushed and flossed. Removing the sticky plaque that harbors bacteria is often all it takes to control bad breath, bleeding, and tender gums.

If gingivitis is not caught and taken care of early, bacteria may build up and cause the more serious periodontal disease, which can require dental intervention. Dentists may treat periodontitis by scaling and root planing (also called debridement) to clear away pockets of bacteria. When this is not successful, surgery is usually recommended. Surgery involves lifting back the gums, removing the hardened plaque buildup, and then stitching the gums back in place. There is a newer laser treatment called LANAP that is less painful and less intrusive.

Whole-food nutrition can play a huge role in dental health. Foods high in vitamin C, folic acid (most raw fruits and vegetables), and the supplement CoQ-10 all help clear up and prevent gingivitis. Essential oils may also support the elimination of periodontal infection. A combination of peppermint oil and almond oil at the gum line may also help kill bacteria and restore healthy gums. You may want to consult a holistic dentist who can help you determine a specific program of dietary, lifestyle, and other therapies that may help with the deeper causes of dental problems.

Essential oils

Essential oils can be powerful tools for fighting infection—especially in the mouth where infections can weaken the immune system and can cause problems elsewhere in the body. Some dentists now use oregano, clove, thyme, and tea tree oils to kill infections rather than using antibiotics, depending on the severity of the infection. In fact, clove oil was used to sterilize surgical equipment over a hundred years ago.

CAUTION: Oregano and clove oil are quite strong, so be cautious if you choose to use these oils.

Oils for oral use include helichrysum, thyme, peppermint, eucalyptus, palmarosa, tea tree, and Niaouli. Bio Excel markets an essential oil blend called Dental Delight specifically for oral use (see sources). Essential oils can easily be added to a toothbrush, waterpick, dental floss, or mouth rinse. Using a cotton swab to dab essential oils on trouble spots can also be effective. Here are some suggestions:

• Dilute two to three drops of essential oils in a small cup of water. Dip your toothbrush during brushing.

• Add one to two drops of essential oil to the basin of your waterpick.

• Apply one drop of essential oil along the length of unwaxed dental floss.

• Add two drops of an essential oil or oil blend to each ounce of mouthwash or water.

• Dab undiluted oils on the infected area. Rinse about an hour later with helichrysum in water to heal and regenerate tissue.

• Following dental work, rinse your mouth with one drop of tea tree oil and one drop of helichrysum in a half-cup of warm water. This combination is anti-inflammatory and will promote new cell growth.

SOURCES:

Holistic dentists:

International Association of Mercury Free Dentists (IAMFD):www.dentalwellness4u.com

International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT): http://iaomt.org/

Holistic Dental Association (HAD): http://www.holisticdental.org/InternationalAcademy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM): http://www.iabdm.org/

Apothecure Pharmacy: 1-800-969-6601

Essential oils:
Dental Delight and others: www.bioexcel.com

Food grade hydrogen peroxide:
Natural Health Supply: http://wwwnaturalhealthsupply.com/servlet/Detail?no=142

Recommended Reading:

The Poison in Your Teeth by Tom McGuire, DDS Root Canal Cover-up by George Meinig, MD

About the author

Many tips are based on recent research, while others were known in ancient times. But they have all been proven to be effective. So keep this website close at hand and make the advice it offers a part of your daily life.