The Dental Diet with Dr. Steven Lin: Rational Wellness Podcast 056
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Dr. Steven Lin talks about the Dental Diet with Dr. Ben Weitz.
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2:05 Dr. Lin explains how he got interested in nutrition as a dentist. He was becoming a little disillusioned with his dental practice when he was finding that dental disease was so common and he found kids with malformed jaws that didn’t fit their teeth and severe tooth decay and adults with gum disease that required extracting some many of their teeth. He took some time off from his practice and did some travelling and came across Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which explained that dental disease is being caused by the modern diet. He documented people who were in hunter/gatherer societies on islands or in remote forests who were not being impacted by the modern lifestyle and who were not eating the modern diet, who had no tooth decay, no crooked teeth, and no wisdom teeth extraction. Dr. Lin wants to help the dental profession move forward into the Functional Medicine perspective.
4:55 Dr. Lin explains how the modern diet impacts the growth of the jaw and this leads to a jaw that is not big enough to fit 32 teeth, which is why you end up with crooked teeth and having to have your wisdom teeth removed. When we eat a whole foods diet and chew a lot, with a diet that includes the nutrients that balance calcium in the body, and we breathe through our nose instead of our mouth, this stimulates the jaw to grow properly. In fact, throughout our lives, every meal contributes to how our jaw and our teeth are formed.
9:45 I asked Dr. Lin about why we commonly have to have our wisdom teeth removed and we don’t think twice about it? He explained that if the hand was not properly formed and we had to have a finger removed, we would be upset about this, but we don’t think twice about having your teeth pulled out. One of the biggest epidemics on the planet is that our jaws aren’t developing properly from children not eating right and chewing properly and not breathing right. We can intervene with a Functional Medicine model.
10:50 Dr. Lin explains that breathing through your nose with a closed mouth and your tongue pushed to the roof of your mouth is the proper way to breathe and this allows the most efficient flow of oxygen and which mixes with nitric oxide in the nose. Mouth breathing, which most people do, delivers oxygen less efficiently and stunts the growth of the mouth. This also leads to snoring and can result in sleep apnea.
15:50 Dr. Lin says that Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) is on the spectrum of sleep apnea and what happens is that when you don’t have the jaws to support the volume of airway we’re used to so they end up with Respiratory Effort Arousal Efforts and they put the brain into sympathetic mode. They also tend to grind their teeth. These people need to be taught to nose breathe.
18:50 We are more prone to tooth decay because most of us don’t get enough fat soluble vitamins, A, D and K2, which are important for the internal immune system withing the teeth.
20:18 Tooth decay also results from a disruption of the oral microbiome, which partially results from using mouth washes and tooth paste that contain antibiotics that kill bacteria in the mouth. Gum disease also results from an imbalance of the bacteria in the mouth and the gut, which then leads to destruction of the gums and the underlying bones in the mouth. You don’t want to kill all the bacteria in the mouth.
25:39 Tooth paste with probiotics. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayrevedic tradition. Eating is really the most important thing you can do for you oral health.
28:07 Plaque is actually a good thing as long as you have the right bacteria in your mouth.
Dr. Steven Lin is a licensed dentist in Australia but he is a Functional Dentist and is dedicated to training parents to help their kids to prevent dental disease and to training other dentists in the use of diet for preventing dental problems. He has spoken at conferences and health summits around the world. He can be contacted through his web site https://www.drstevenlin.com/ and you can you can buy his book, The Dental Diet, at Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dental-diet-steven-lin/1126612831?ean=9781401953171#/
Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111.
Dr. Weitz: This is Dr. Ben Weitz with the Rational Wellness Podcast, bringing you the cutting edge information on health and nutrition from the latest scientific research and by interviewing the top experts in the field. Please subscribe to Rational Wellness Podcast on iTunes and YouTube, and sign up for my free ebook on my website by going to drweitz.com. Let’s get started on your road to better health.
Hey, Rational Wellness podcasters, thank you so much for joining me again today. For those of you who enjoy this podcast, please go to iTunes and give us a ratings and review. So our Rational Wellness Podcast is focused on various functional medicine topics, and how we can use natural methods to help prevent and reverse various types of chronic diseases. Many of our discussions have been about the gut, and hormones, and metabolic conditions, autoimmune diseases, detoxification. But this same model of health can be applied to every area of the body. We’ve recently had Dr. Cates on to talk about a functional medicine approach to the skin and Dr. Ziegler talking about the health of the eyes.
Now, we’re going to apply the functional medicine model to the health of the mouth and the teeth. And I’m very happy that we have Dr. Steven Lin joining us today, who’s a functional medicine dentist, speaker, author of the number one Amazon best selling book The Dental Diet. Dr. Lin focuses on the understanding of dental disease through nutritional principles. His work has highlighted that crooked teeth and orthodontia epidemic are diet-based problems and the need for public health policy to prevent braces in the next generation of children. Dr. Lin, thank you for joining me today.
Dr. Lin: Ben, such a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Weitz: So how did you get so interested in nutrition as a dentist?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, it’s a funny story. I was actually practicing as a dentist years ago and I was beginning to become a little bit disillusioned with my day’s work. I was finding that there were very sick people in my practice with conditions that were very, very common. You know, dental disease is some of the most common we have in society today. And, whether it was kids with tooth decay or with malformed jaws that didn’t fit their teeth, or whether it was adults with gum disease where I was extracting, in some cases, teeth out of the forty and fifty year olds, their last teeth out of their jaws. And it began to play on me that I really didn’t have the answers as to why this was happening.
And so, I actually took some time away from my practice and I went traveling through Europe. And I was in a travelers’ hostel in Istanbul, Turkey, and there was a shared reading shelf there where I saw a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. Now, I’d never heard of the book before and so I kind of picked it up and I was like, what is this? It had the words DDS on the title of the book, so it kind of got my attention even though I was trying to escape dentistry at the time. But I opened it and it was a world that I’d never seen before. You know, Price was a guy that went around the world in the twenties and thirties and documented over fourteen cultures around the world, and where the modern diet interfaces how people have been living ancestrally for thousands of years. And he showed that modern dental disease doesn’t occur until we hit the industrial revolution, until we start eating modern diet and this was happening right up until the thirties, and people were living with absolutely absent of dental disease. So, that’s no crooked teeth, no tooth decay, but also no wisdom teeth impaction. When you think about how much a rite of passage that wisdom teeth impactions are today. And this whole perspective’s been lost, so it really kind of opened my mind to the idea that there was information from our ancestors that we’d lost and that we’d misinterpreted, and that our food today had a drastic impact on our mouth and that really, epigenetically and with modern science now, we can actually plug in the missing pictures that Price painted back in the thirties and it’s fascinating. That’s what led me to write my book, and try and help the dental profession move forward into it’s functional medicine perspective.
Dr. Weitz: Can you explain how the shape of the jaw has changed due to the modern diet, and how this affects our teeth?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, so probably the simplest way to put is that the most common way that people see the orthodontist is that, when you are a child of the age around ten to twelve to thirteen, your adult dentition has erupted and you go to the orthodonist to straighten those teeth. Sometimes they will extract teeth and sometimes they will just put braces on. The braces really only straighten the dentition and they don’t address why the malocclusion, which is crooked teeth, has occurred in the first place. And so, a child at twelve who needs braces is experiencing the same problem as a late adolescent or a young adult that has their wisdom teeth out.
Dr. Weitz: Once again, this is kind of like the functional model, which is, what’s the root cause rather than just treating the symptom.
Dr. Lin: Exactly. So, that’s exactly … so, with braces and wisdom teeth extractions are just treating a symptom, and the symptom is that our jaws aren’t growing and that we don’t have space now to fit 32 human teeth. And, in my career, I’ve seen very few people that have jaws that develop to house their wisdom teeth and a full straight dentition.
And so, when you look anthropologically, this doesn’t occur. And so, what we now have is a very, kind of … different areas of science have worked out why this happened. And so, we haven’t quite brought it together, which is why, for instance, the dental and orthodontic professions haven’t really applied this cause we don’t have a conjoined theory on this. But the idea is that, if you don’t send the signals to your jaw to grow, which include chewing, which includes the nutrients that balance calcium in the body, which include breathing factors, so being able to breathe through the nose and using the tongue correctly. All of these are functionable as to how the jaw grows during those formative years between ages zero to twelve, until you form the adult dentition and continues to grow until you’re twenty-one, and then right throughout life as well. That’s one thing, Ben, as well, is that we can actually expand the adult palate and change both the upper and lower jaw in an adult in a slightly lesser way than we can in children, but we can always change a jaw. And every meal is really contributing to how our teeth are formed. And so, the teeth are just a symptom.
Dr. Weitz: So, that’s fascinating. So, essentially, I think what you’re saying is that the modern refined carbohydrate diet with all this soft food that, you know, we woof down without even chewing. You know, we don’t have the fibrous, the types of foods that really require, the vegetable matter, the foods that really require a lot of work for our jaws, is part of the problem, right?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, exactly. So your jaws are a musculoskeletal joint, funnily enough. And the anthropological studies show that, once we move into civilizations, people in hunter/gatherer situations, they don’t experience malocclusion as much as what we do as soon as we hit civilization. That’s when crooked teeth begin to occur. And so, the idea that chewing is a nutrient, is something that we don’t have in dietary recommendations, do we? And we are a society that tends to blend and juice things as much as we can, and that’s something that we really haven’t done in our history in terms of our nutrient intake. So I think that’s a really important one, that chewing is a part. It starts with breastfeeding, which begins to grow the child’s palate, and that’s really where we learn how to use the oral cavity as a musculoskeletal entity of the body.
Dr. Weitz: Interesting. Maybe we shouldn’t even use forks and knives, you know, just use our teeth more.
Dr. Lin: That’s an interesting … I actually … but you’re probably bang on there, that the way we’re kind of cutting things down. We’re taking some of that work away from the jaws. And you know, most anthropological kind of studies show people with very worn teeth and almost worn to the point where sometimes the enamel’s gone. And that just shows over their life, they’ve been chewing an enormous amount. And the amount of chewing, we just don’t probably go near anymore. So, that’s probably a good point, yeah.
Dr. Weitz: So, in your book, when you were talking about the wisdom teeth, I think it’s amazing that you were saying that we just take it for granted that we’re removing these wisdom teeth. And you compare it to, if we were cutting off fingers or toes, people would be outraged, and we don’t even think twice about losing your wisdom teeth.
Dr. Lin: You’d probably think twice if you had to cut off fingers–if your hand didn’t develop to fit your pinkie finger, and you had to have it cut off. That would seem weird, right? Well, we haven’t asked the same question for some reason about our teeth. And we just extract teeth without even a thought about it and it’s normal. But it really does kind of point to one of the biggest epidemics on the planet: that our jaws aren’t developing when we’re in these childhood years. And I see the effects of it. Children today are showing the effects of not developing, not breathing right, not eating right. And we can really intervene in this with a functional model.
Dr. Weitz: What role does breathing through our nose versus breathing through our mouth play in this process?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, that was a big factor of discovery for myself to learn that really oxygen is the number one nutrient for our body. And you think of how long you can last without water, for instance. Well, oxygen trumps water. You can only last minutes without having to keel over if you’re not breathing properly. But, we are a species now that doesn’t breathe properly nearly all the time and that is through the nose. With a closed mouth, with the tongue to the roof of the mouth, and what that does is, it delivers oxygen in a much more efficient way. It delivers oxygen in a way where we center the head over the spine, which you would be very familiar with Ben. So what mouth breathing does, when we learn not to breathe through the nose, we breathe through the mouth, which is a survival response. And so mouth breathing really doesn’t deliver the nutrient nitrous oxide, which mixes with air in the nasal sinuses, and it helps the body to extract oxygen and increase our blood flow to the lung areas in order to extract oxygen. When you breathe through your mouth, you don’t get this.
And so, what also mouth breathing does, is that it stunting the growth of the jaws. So kids that mouth breathe, so you’ll see them with their mouth open when they’re watching TV with their tongue hanging out of their mouth, they are, by definition, stunting the growth of their jaw. So they’ll have a narrow palate, they’ll have crooked teeth, and it’s due to a functional issue. And so that factor in both the idea of how we feed ourselves and how we get ourselves the nutrients that our body needs. You take twenty thousand breaths a day at a conservative estimation, so you really can’t undervalue how important breathing is.
Dr. Weitz: And how does improper breathing lead to snoring, sleep apnea, teeth grinding?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, so what’s really interesting is that our daytime postures, and this is really interconnected with your work Ben, it affects …
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, we do a line of work with posture.
Dr. Lin: Right, right. And so, how you hold your oral posture and your neck, and how you use your oropharynx controls how your airway is operated during the day. And so, when you go to sleep, all of those muscles relax and you only have the very deep and fundamental muscles really kind of keeping your airways open and your breathing. So, if we have a mouth open posture through the day, what will happen is, you’ll have a mouth open posture at night. So, that contributes to the loss of airway space that then causes a vibration, which is snoring. But then this goes on into a sequence of pathology, which ends in obstructive sleep apnea, and that’s where we’re having pausing of up to twenty seconds at a time that overnight, people can pause for minutes. So you count for twenty seconds, it’s quite frightening.
And kids today, are even being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. And, at the base of it, is a breathing dysfunction. We’re not breathing right through the day. And then, through the night, we have this structure, both the jaws aren’t developed, we’re not using muscles right and we’re not learning to breathe through the nose, where we should.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, interesting. I’ve been learning how to breathe through the nose, taking coaching lessons with a breathing coach. And what do you think about taping the mouth at night? That’s a way to try to train people to breathe through the nose. I’ve heard other practitioners talk about that.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, it’s an interesting one. The taping is a way to kind of … cause what happens is, we do develop a habit of the lips coming open. So it does help us to kind of make sure that you’re breathing through the nose. I’d recommend that people kind of acclimatize and do some training before they do something like that because some people do find that they get a claustrophobic feel out of it or they can kind of wake violently, if they’re not used to breathing through their nose. But I personally tape my mouth. I’ve had to train myself, as well. So it wasn’t something that I could immediately do. And it really depends on the dental manner too. If you have a high palate, it’s going to be hard. And, you know, you really should be doing some breathing, myofunctional therapy to reprogram your tongue to the roof of the mouth, to really kind of get your body used to being in that physiological posture.
Dr. Weitz: Okay, in your excellent book, The Dental Diet, which I highly recommend to everybody, you talk about Upper Respiratory Airway Resistance Syndrome, right? Upper airway resistance syndrome and how this can relate to various types of digestive disorders and other health issues, including ADHD in kids. And, is it really true that learning to play the Australian didgeridoo can help with this?
Dr. Lin: Yeah. Well, one study showed that people with obstructive sleep apnea, they had beneficial results from playing the Australian didgeridoo, which is the long kind of wind, you use deep diaphragma muscles to kind of make that deep sound, it’s really interesting.
Dr. Weitz: Of course.
Dr. Lin: But what Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome is, or UARS, it’s on the spectrum of sleep apnea. And so, people with obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed by a polysomnograph. And so, with upper airway resistance syndrome, they found at Stanford in the nineties that there is a set of people that had a similar set of symptoms but weren’t being diagnosed from obstructive sleep apnea. So they didn’t have the pauses in their breathing and they were having polysomnographs, and the researchers were saying, well these people don’t have this sleep disorder. Well, what upper airway resistance syndrome is, is where you go to sleep, your airways contract because one, we don’t have the jaws to support the volume of airway we’re used to, and we don’t also have the muscle function to support the breathing that we do either. And so, what happens is these people go into a state of what they have, RERAs, or respiratory effort related arousal efforts. And what happens is that, these RERAs wake the brain up, not to the point where you wake up yourself but they push the brain into a fight or flight mode.
And so, it’s a feeling like you’re choking. And what happens is, that pushes you into sympathetic. And so the symptoms you have are that you’re tired all the time, you don’t feel that you get rested, digestive system isn’t working cause you’re constantly pushed into sympathetic, where it should be into parasympathetic mode. Depression is very common. Other issues like skin issues, but also teeth grinding. So one of the biggest signs is teeth grinding, where the jaw is coming forward to open the airway. So, that’s a response by the brain due to the decreased volume in the airways to push the jaw forward and open that airway. And so teeth grinding and UARS is a big sign, and you will not be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. However, you do have a sleep issue, and the underlying problem is the jaw growth but then, from that breathing dysfunction and retraining that breathing, is really important for these people.
Dr. Weitz: Is it true that having cavities can be related to deficiencies of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, so what we often don’t hear is that we have an immune system inside our teeth. And so, these little immune cells come from the bone marrow. And so these little stem cells from your bone marrow either become bone marrow making cells or immune cells, in very simple terms. But they also become teeth cells that sit in your dental pulp, so in the inside of your teeth. And they guard your dentin. And this is like an immune reaction your teeth have. And so, what they do is they respond, if you have any kind of bacteria that creeps down the dental enamel, they try and protect the dentin. They can actually prevent that. And so, they can cause an immune response.
Now, these cells, like your skeletal system, they run on vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin K2. So people that have tooth decay, and this is what Weston A. Price found, is that every ancestral culture had levels of fat soluble vitamins ten to twenty times what we eat today. And, if you don’t think about how much of these nutrients you’re eating, I guarantee you are deficient in them. And, what that means is, that we are susceptible to tooth decay. So, tooth decay is a model of lack of nutrients and its also an imbalance in the bacteria that live in your mouth as well.
Dr. Weitz: So, essentially, its dysbiosis of the oral microbiome.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, so that’s the other side of the picture. So, we’ve got the teeth with an immune system inside and then on the outside, we’ve got these bacteria. We’ve been scrubbing and killing bacteria for the last fifty years. But what we’ve missed is that we’re actually killing the diversity of the oral microbiome. So there are trillions of bugs that live throughout the body and the mouth is really the first and connected version of your interface with bacteria. And so, bacteria in the mouth, you swallow thousands of bacteria every second, that’s trillions every day. And so that’s being communicated to your gut, which then forms your immune system, 80% of the immune system lies in the gut. And so, the mouth really is one of the key players in shaping how your body lives and reacts with bacteria. And tooth decay, we’ve known as a bacterial disease for a long time but it’s not an infection, it’s a loss of probiotic material. And the same as gum disease as well, it’s an underlying gut problem that has a lack of probiotic species in the mouth to balance those bacteria, and then what we have is the destruction of the gums and bone structures in the mouth.
Dr. Weitz: So we’ve been killing the bacteria by using antibacterial alcohol mouthwash and antibacterial toothpaste, right?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, so one study last year showed that alcoholic mouthwashes can increase the risk of pre-diabetes by a certain set of populations. So that shows that you destroy the diversity in the mouth and you increase your risk of problems in the gut later on. But anthropologically, we’ve destroyed these bacteria by eating the wrong foods. Underlying everything is diet. And so, once we change the diet, we lose that diversity and then the diseases come as a result.
Dr. Weitz: You didn’t mention it in your book but what do you think about fluoride?
Dr. Lin: Yeah, I try to stay away from fluoride because its so controversial but, you know, fluoride … everything we’ve just talked about, the immune system inside the teeth and the microbiome, we have the capabilities in our body to completely prevent and be absolutely resistant to tooth decay. Fluoride addresses a very small slither of that equation. It’s incorporated into the tooth enamel to make it more resistant to acid. Now, if you stop the acid release and you give your teeth the immune building factors, which are the fat soluble vitamins, then you don’t need fluoride. And so fluoride is applicable in certain treatment situations where we have severe decay. But, it really doesn’t address the root cause and that’s a big issue. And where the functional medicine, functional dentistry kind of interface needs to join together to have a good conversation about it because it’s a big, big problem that links to everything throughout the body.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, what I see in America especially, is that functional medicine practitioners like myself who believe that fluoride is not good to be taken in, especially the type of fluoride that’s being put in, which is industrial waste product. And yet, dentists are still saying, yes, you need fluoride, yes you need fluoride, it’s a good thing.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, it’s a bit of a problem because it’s one of the baseline preventative measures of what dentists are taught. You know, because of that mechanism of making enamel more resistant to acid. But it doesn’t make sense in a functional medicine perspective because we know so much more about the body now, we know so much more about the microbiome and we’ve really moved past the idea that fluoride is our underlying way of preventing. It’s a treatment. It should be seen as a treatment.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah. And I think potentially harmful in terms of affecting thyroid and a bunch of other things in the body, potentially negatively. On top of the fact that the type of fluoride, let’s say, that’s being put into the water is not even a purified form of fluoride, its industrial waste from fertilizer industry that’s leftover.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, the sources of fluoride, that doesn’t get discussed much either. So, I mean … and that would obviously play a feature because the idea of fluoridation came from mountain ranges that had a higher mineral content of fluoride. And this idea that we insert it in a chemical way, probably isn’t as effective anyway.
Dr. Weitz: Can we measure the microbiome in the mouth?
Dr. Lin: Yeah. So we’re getting there. Interestingly enough, the oral microbiome is one of the lesser studied parts of the microbiome and yet it’s the most successful. And I really think it’s going to be the future of medicine, where we take a little saliva sample and you can see your risk for all types of gut intolerances, autoimmune issues, right from the bacteria in your mouth, cause we have a communicative relation to the gut microbiomes from the mouth, and so you can also measure inflammation factors. I really think that, at the moment, it’s coming along, so we’re beginning to sequence the oral microbiome but, I think, it really is the future.
Dr. Weitz: What do you think about toothpaste with probiotics in it?
Dr. Lin: Also, a spot for the future. At this stage, there’s not many out there. But, it’s a good idea. Some prebiotics, probiotics, even collagen is an idea that popped up. I really find toothpaste and brushing, you know, it’s a very superficial way of looking after teeth. It’s great. Everyone should have an oral hygiene regime but eating is really the way that you provide your body those nutrients. So, I think there are some natural toothpastes out there that are really kind of showing that we can get away from these supermarket brands.
Dr. Weitz: I mean, what should we use for toothpaste? I’ve heard recommendations that you should use baking soda and coconut oil.
Dr. Lin: Baking soda and coconut oil is a good mix, yeah. It really is a personal preference. Some people really like that peppermint kind of hit but, yeah, it’s one that … the big factor is that you stay away from a daily antibacterial. You don’t want to be killing bacteria daily. Your natural substance is really a much more gentle for the microbiome.
Dr. Weitz: Now they have toothpaste with clays and also with charcoal. What do you think about those?
Dr. Lin: Charcoal’s … obviously it’s got a high absorption factor. It can be reasonably effective for whitening. I’d just be careful with it cause it’s quite abrasive. So I wouldn’t be doing it every day. Maybe if you do it every … once every two weeks, once every month. It’s a great way to kind of clean the plaque debris and staining from the tooth enamel surface. But, yeah, I wouldn’t do it every day.
Dr. Weitz: What do you think about oil pulling?
Dr. Lin: Oil pulling, it was an ancient aryurvedic practice, you know, it goes back many years. I think it has … the introduction of fat into the oral microbiome. The problems we have there is through simple carbohydrates. So, I think, there can only be benefits from that. In terms of studies, we don’t really know exactly if it has measurable clinical benefits. But what I tell my patients, eat more coconut oil. If you eat more coconut oil in your diet, you’re going to be introducing your body to this.
Dr. Weitz: Okay. Is plaque on our teeth a bad thing?
Dr. Lin: Plaque, the bacteria in your mouth actually need to live there too. So plaque itself isn’t bad. But it can be, if we have the wrong bacteria. So it builds up. After twelve hours, you’ll start to build plaque on your teeth. And so, if you eat the right foods, it’s actually fine. But, to prevent dysbiosis removing that plaque, will kind of help stop any kind of bad bacteria buildup.
Dr. Weitz: You mentioned in The Dental Diet that, if you chew your food carefully, your salivary glands add enzymes to your saliva, which decreases the pH in the mouth. In the natural, even functional medicine movement today, there’s so much talk about trying to alkalinize your body by eating an alkaline diet, drinking alkaline water. I wonder if this is going too far since, both our mouth and our intestinal tracts actually do better with a slightly acidic environment.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, I tend to agree Ben, actually. I’m not big on the whole alkalizing kind of … I think, in certain situations people are, bit I really think the body has its own pH kind of balance. And I find, in situations like SIBO and kind of reflux situations, where we see a lot of tooth enamel warn off, so they have a lot of dental erosion, the problem is that they don’t have enough acid in their stomach, right? So they need … they’re not digesting well and they’re having these burping kind of episodes because the food isn’t being broken down, and that’s a lack of acid. So I think there is a little bit a demonization of acid and it comes from a little bit of a dental context as well, because we see acid as such a problem. But it plays a role and acid, for instance, in the mouth protect against certain species. So lactobacillus species release acids that inhibit bacteria that cause tooth decay. So there’s a role for acids, I think, it’s all in balance and, I think, if we introduce the right species, they kind of control that for us.
Dr. Weitz: Great, great. I think that’s most of the questions I had. Is there anything else that you want our listeners to know about in terms of the health environment in our mouth and our teeth and our jaws?
Dr. Lin: It’s just, yeah, any sign that you see in the mouth is, it’s a signal from your body potentially that something is maybe going wrong. Bleeding gums, you know, I would really start to take that a message from your digestive system that something’s not quite right and that, really try and use our mouth as a way to kind of hear what your body’s feeling and experiencing.
Dr. Weitz: So bleeding gums is not just a consequence of not flossing enough?
Dr. Lin: No, absolutely not. The bleeding gums really is an immune reaction. So I think it’s the first signs of gut dysbiosis because you’ve got that immune reaction in the mouth. I think, it’s probably the first sign of leaky gut and so gum disease, I really think, I’m writing an article at the moment on leaky mouth and that the idea that gum disease really is a problem starting in the gut, and it’s that loss of interface both in the gut and mouth between your immune system and bacteria.
Dr. Weitz: So I think we kind of all have it wrong, cause we all are thinking … I’m flossing and brushing to get that bacteria off of my teeth because that’s what’s creating all the problems.
Dr. Lin: Yeah, the main thing you need to be thinking is introducing the good ones, the supportive ones. That’s the most important thing. You can floss and brush all you like. It’s going to have a very, very small impact on the bacteria in your mouth anyway because there’s trillions there. You don’t … your introduction of nutrition and your environment and stress, these are key factors for your mouth.
Dr. Weitz: So what are we really doing with brushing and flossing then?
Dr. Lin: Well, it’s a superficial way to address their teeth. It’s kind of a societal thing as well, you know. If you look at the photos from Weston A. Price, you’ll see these big white smiles. And you know, they didn’t brush their teeth. So, you know, it’s something we think … we’ve tried to kind of counterbalance the modern diet with brushing and flossing but, it’s a very superficial way to kind of address our teeth.
Dr. Weitz: Oh, interesting. So, if we were eating a natural diet devoid of processed foods and sugar and all the other crap, there wouldn’t even be a need to brush your teeth. The fiber and all the roughage in the food would actually …
Dr. Lin: Well, you still get plaque buildup, right? But, there’s no problem cause you’ve got the balance of species there. Yeah, it’s not an issue. Yeah, you get plaque in the mouth, you get plaque in your gut, in the villi of the digestive system. That’s how bacteria live. We live with bacteria, learning that we are symbiotic with these creatures really is, I think, the bigger message.
Dr. Weitz: Great. So for listeners and viewers who want to get hold of you, or get hold of your book, how should they get more information? And your book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other places?
Dr. Lin: Yeah. So The Dental Diet, they can grab it on Amazon and in stores like Barnes and Noble. They can find me on my website drstevenlin.com and on social media @DrStevenLin.
Dr. Weitz: Great, thank you so much Dr. Lin. It’s a very interesting podcast. I appreciate you’re spending the time.
Dr. Lin: It’s a pleasure Ben. Thank you very much.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Dr. Lin: Bye-bye.
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