Oral health disorders are among the most common health problems in US adults. Chief among these are dental caries (cavities), caused by tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease encompasses gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis, a potentially aggressive condition that can eventually lead to tooth loss. About 20% of people 65 and older have untreated tooth decay, and approximately half of US adults aged 30 and older have periodontitis (AAP 2015; Kim 2010; Thornton-Evans 2013).
You may be unaware that neglecting oral hygiene harms more than your smile. Poor oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis (Hajishengallis 2015; Gulati 2013; Schenkein 2013; Watts 2008; Fisher 2010). Periodontal disease is also associated with a significantly increased risk of death from any cause (Chen 2015; Ricardo 2015). These concerning associations are linked to systemic inflammation, which can be triggered by periodontal disease (Artese 2015; Winning 2015; Craig 2009).
But there is good news. Periodontal disease treatment has been associated with improvements in overall health such as reduced systemic inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, blood pressure, and early atherosclerosis; and some evidence suggests that treatment of periodontal disease may help improve blood sugar control among diabetics (Griffiths 2010; Tonetti 2013; Lockhart 2012; Vergnes 2015; Teeuw 2010). Periodontal treatment has even been proposed as a strategy for reducing the risk of dying from heart disease (Yao 2009).
Given the potentially deadly consequences of poor oral health, preventing periodontal disease should be a major concern for aging individuals. Harmful bacteria in the mouth contribute to plaque buildup and destruction of periodontal tissue (Aruni 2015; Edwards 2010; Mayo Clinic 2014a). Dietary sugars and processed starches feed these bacteria and speed up tooth decay and periodontal disease (Mayo Clinic 2014a). But reducing sugar and processed starch intake and supplementing with an oral probiotic lozenge containing Streptococcus salivarius M18 to displace the bad bacteria in the mouth has been demonstrated to preserve periodontal health (Scariya 2015). Proper at-home dental hygiene, regular dentist visits, and a healthy diet are also essential for preventing periodontal disease (Mayo Clinic 2014a).
In this protocol, you will learn about the many health problems that poor oral health can cause, and how insufficient dental hygiene can promote systemic inflammation and disease. You will read about a unique oral probiotic that fights bad bacteria in the mouth and helps preserve healthy teeth and gums. You will also learn about emerging dental techniques such as laser therapy and photodynamic therapy. This protocol also reviews several integrative interventions that support oral health, such as omega-3 fatty acids and coenzyme Q10 to combat inflammation and support healthy gums.