Rational Wellness Podcast Episode 022: Oral Health with Dr. Al Danenberg

Dr. Al Danenberg, Wholistic Periodontist and Functional Medicine Doctor, discusses periodontal disease and the health of the mouth with Dr. Ben Weitz. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms adhering to the teeth and an overly aggressive immune response. This occurs in over 50% of the US population. 92% have gingivitis, which is an infection of the gum tissue that has not progressed into the bone like periodontitis.  Dr. Danenberg has recently written Crazy Good Living: Healthy Gums, Healthy Gut, Healthy Life. Dr. Danenberg discusses our primal ancestory and our evolution and that it was rare for our primal ancestors to have had gum disease or tooth decay.  This has resulted from our modern diet and lifestyle and toxins that result in chronic diseases, like periodontal disease. And they don’t have toothbrushes or mouth wash or dental visits. The starting point for periodontal disease is the gut.

Eating grains has created a chemical–gliadin–that we cannot digest completely. This protein, gliadin irritates the gut lining, which is only one cell thick. This causes openings in the gut lining, resulting in leaky gut. If this insult just happened once, the gut would heal. But because of our modern diet, we are continuously eating foods that irritate the lining of the gut, creating a chronic inflammation. This may result in the immune system attacking other organs, such as the thyroid. When you have dysbiosis in the gut, the bacteria in the saliva in the mouth change, resulting in a dysbiosis in the mouth.  Thus, the gut is the initiator of many chronic diseases, like periodontal disease. Once there is dysbiosis in the bacteria in the mouth, then the foods that we eat, esp. sugar, that feed these bacteria, make this dysbiosis more pathogenic and unhealthy.  That’s where gum disease and tooth decay cause bigger problems. Now you have a leaky gut creating systemic problems through the blood stream and a leaky type situation in the vascular under the gums. Effective care should involve treating both the infection under the gums and also treating the leaky gut.

Dr. Danenberg explained that the three food groups that are the most damaging to the lining of the gut are grains, added sugars, and processed liquid seed oils. He believes in eating nutrient dense foods. I mentioned the recent paper from the American Heart Association that recommends substituting soybean and other vegetable oils in place of saturated fats like butter. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/06/15/CIR.0000000000000510 Dr. Danenberg pointed out that the American Heart Association failed to mention at least two of those four studies from the 1950s while they demonstrated decreases in heart disease from substituting vegetable oils like soybean, corn and canola oil for saturated fats like butter, red meat, and cheese, there was actually no decreases in death rates since there was an increase in cancer death rates.

Dr. Danenberg explained what he means by eating a nutrient dense diet. He said that such a diet includes eating animals that are wild caught and pasture raised. This includes wild Alaskan salmon. It includes grass fed and grass finished cattle and chickens that are eating bugs on the ground rather than processed corn and soy products. These foods are higher in omega 3 fats and are anti-inflammatory. This also includes vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds. We are talking about organic and not conventionally raised with chemical, such as glyphosate, which is sprayed on a number of genetically modified crops. Dr. Danenberg explained that organic fruits and vegetables will contain more phytonutrients since their immune systems will have to work harder to fight off pests and other threats and this leads them to produce these phytochemicals that help them in this fight.

I then asked Dr. Danenberg, since he is an advocate for the Paleo diet, how can bacon be seen as a healthy food? How is bacon anti-inflammatory?  Dr. Danenberg explained that he sees the Paleo diet as meaning that a population eats foods that are naturally available to them in their natural environment and not processed or with added chemicals. This differs depending upon the region they lived. Dr. Danenberg said that he has a local farmer who raises hogs naturally and feeds them a natural diet–not corn and soy, etc. and slaughters them properly and he will buy this meat. And you can make a healthy bacon from the pork belly of such an animal. But conventional bacon that is processed and cured from conventionally raised pigs, and chickens in cages and grain fed cattle are not healthy either.

I asked Dr. Danenberg about flouride and why so many dentists recommend flouride. Dr. Danenberg said that flouride is a toxin and it is a neurotoxin, it damages DNA, and destroys mitochondria. But topical flouride in the mouth inhibits dental decay because it hardens the tooth enamel. Rather than use flouride in the mouth, lets educate patients why there is dental decay. Topical flouride treatments are like painting a rusty fence with Rustoleum. Flouridated water has little to no benefit in controlling dental decay.

Dr. Danenberg explained that added sugars are the cause of tooth decay. Dental plaque is healthy, according to Dr. Danenberg, until it’s not. Plaque has a purpose. It is a biofilm around the tooth that maintains a more neutral pH and kills pathogenic bacteria. Plaque also helps to re-mineralize the tooth’s surface. It is only when the bacteria in the plaque becomes dysbiotic because of certain foods we have eaten. And then the sugar that you eat feeds the dysbiotic, unhealthy bacteria that creates the dental decay.

You can contact Dr. Al Danenberg through his website:   https://drdanenberg.com/

Here is the link for his new book, Crazy Good Living: Healthy Gums, Healthy Gut, Healthy Life     https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Good-Living-Healthy-Gums-Life-ebook/dp/B073QD6FWV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500647091&sr=8-1&keywords=crazy+good+living