Novel Ways to Achieve Optimal Oral HealthAugust 2007
By Debora Yost
Novel Ways of Protecting Oral Health
Your smile is a mirror to your health—and it has nothing to do with the brightening strips you slide on your teeth at night. Oral health is about wearing a smile free of what you can’t see—inflammation and infection of the gum tissue that can contribute to dangerous inflammatory processes throughout the body.
The key to exceptional oral health is to clean your teeth morning, night, and after meals with a toothpaste containing the most powerful and effective ingredients that have been shown to destroy bacteria and fight inflammation. This is the type of toothpaste that Don Poster, MD, an oncologist from Miami, Florida, was looking for several years ago after his dentist warned him that about the deteriorating condition of his teeth and gums, despite Dr. Poster’s vigilant attention to his oral health.
“I’ve always been interested in natural health and, of course, I’m familiar with medical research, so I investigated the best natural substances that have been proven to kill the type of bacteria that cause plaque,” recalls Dr. Poster. “Commercial toothpastes contain a lot of artificial ingredients, especially sweeteners, and I couldn’t find any that contained the key active ingredients I discovered from reviewing the literature about what’s good for oral health. Commercial toothpaste wasn’t doing a good enough job, so I decided to make my own.”
After using his natural toothpaste preparation, Dr. Poster stated, “On my next visit to the dentist, he noticed a significant improvement in the state of my teeth and gum health.”Dr. Poster’s personal preparation—emphasizing coenzyme Q10, lactoferrin, squalene, xylitol, folic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and tea tree oil—was formulated into a toothpaste in 2003 that is now used by many Life Extension members. With exciting new findings about the dental health benefits of orally applied pomegranate, this fruit extract has been added to Dr. Poster’s already successful toothpaste formula.
Pomegranate Improves Periodontal Health
Pomegranate has been making a lot of news lately as a major protector of the arterial system. One of the active constituents in pomegranate is a group of polyphenols called anthocyanins that are reported to possess strong anti-bacterial properties.6
In 2003, preliminary research in Thailand found that local application of potent extracts, including pomegranate fruit extract, produced significant improvement in 20 patients with advanced periodontitis.35 This treatment also produced a significant reduction in the inflammatory mediator interleukin-1b, and a modest decrease in pro-inflammatory interleukin-6.36
Since then, much research on pomegranate and its anti-inflammatory abilities has taken place. Last year, Brazilian scientists put pomegranate to the ultimate test in fighting dental disease.6 The scientists wanted to find out how effective pomegranate extract would be at killing the type of organisms that resist routine brushing and can lead to difficult-to-remove tartar. They enlisted 60 healthy people between the ages of 9 and 25 and had them abstain from brushing their teeth for 24 hours. The participants were divided into three groups, and were instructed to spend one minute rinsing their mouth with one of three mouth washes: distilled water; a rinse containing chlorhexidine, a chemical considered to be the gold standard in fighting oral bacteria; or a rinse containing pomegranate extract. Dental plaque samples were collected immediately before and after using the mouthwash, and the samples were grown in the laboratory to determine how many bacterial colonies would grow. As expected, rinsing with the chlor-hexidine solution greatly inhibited bacterial growth by 79%. Remarkably, the pomegranate extract rinse was even more effective against dental plaque microorganisms, decreasing bacterial growth by 84%. By contrast, distilled water had a minimal effect on oral bacteria, inhibiting growth by only 11%.6 By fighting the microorganisms that contribute to dental plaque, pomegranate offers tremendous benefits for those seeking to safeguard their oral health.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been shown to inhibit the formation of plaque. In a double-blind, controlled study, Swedish researchers had 128 children chew either xylitol-containing gum or one containing the sweeteners sorbitol and maltitol, three times daily for four weeks. While both were effective against the buildup of dental plaque, only the xylitol-sweetened gum eliminated microbes found in saliva, particularly a strain of bacteria implicated in tooth decay.7 Xylitol could thus be an essential ingredient in a targeted strategy to avert dental disease.
This naturally occurring compound is integral to the health of body cells. An important antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 is well-known for its ability to help decrease the depth of periodontal pockets and heal gums in people with periodontitis. In one experiment, one week of treatment with coenzyme Q10 helped heal diseased gums so effectively that the researchers had difficultly finding the areas of diseased gum tissue.8 Coenzyme Q10 may thus offer important healing support for those affected by periodontal disease.
This protein is a well-known immune system booster involved in the body’s responses to infection, trauma, and injury.37 Lactoferrin has been shown to halt the growth of periodontitis-causing bacteria.11 Lactoferrin thus provides a multifaceted approach to fighting infection and tissue damage associated with periodontal disease.
An extract of shark liver oil, squalene is used to help support immune health and boost the body’s resilience to challenges such as infections and cancer.38 Squalene has a smooth, emollient texture that is ideal for dental-care products.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is known for its antiseptic, antibacterial, and fungicidal effects, and has shown efficacy in inhibiting oral bacteria.9 In people with severe gingivitis, topically applied tea tree oil gel significantly reduced gingivitis and bleeding of the gums.39
Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known antiseptic that can be used to fight plaque formation and to reduce gingivitis.40 Its bubbling action exposes oral bacteria that are difficult to reach with ordinary brushing and flossing, helping produce cleaner teeth and gums.
Folic acid is essential for the integrity of the gingival tissues. A mouthwash containing folic acid has been shown to be effective in treating gingivitis. In people with gum disease, folic acid significantly reduces gingival redness and bleeding of the gums.10
Optimal periodontal health is absolutely crucial for anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life. Your mouth deserves the best of care, especially during later life when the risk of gum disease and its systemic effects are the greatest. Natural substances such as pomegranate, lactoferrin, coenzyme Q10, folic acid, squalene, tea tree oil, and hydrogen peroxide offer state-of-the-art natural therapeutic benefits for the teeth and gums, helping fight disease-causing bacteria, promote tissue healing, and relieve inflammation. By helping maintain good dental health, these remarkable agents may help decrease the risk of systemic disease of the whole body.
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