Oral Health

How Vitamins & Antioxidants that Help Maintain Good Oral Hygiene are Connected to Maintaining Cardiac, Arterial, Caseyand Glycemic Health

A Vitamin a Day May Keep the Dentist Away?

By Debra Casey, RDH

Yes, we are noticing that a healthier immune system can mean healthier pink gums.  Don't get me wrong; we all need regular dental checkups.  However, studies are showing that nutritional supplementation increases our ability to help maintain healthy gums along with daily flossing and brushing.  And this is particularly important since studies are revealing an association between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease.  Not only is research showing an association between periodontal disease and heart disease, but also stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, and almost all chronic inflammatory diseases of aging, and as Dr. Ladd McNamara (who practiced for years as a board certified ob/gyn) informed me, EVEN low birth weight and premature labor!  Now, if that doesn't get you to think about better oral hygiene, I don't know what will.
I have been fortunate enough to model for exercise equipment and clothing lines well into my fifties due to an emphasis of a healthy diet and exercise program.  And, I have been a dental hygienist for over 25 years in Texas and in San Diego, California.  Health and fitness have long been interests of mine.  However, the importance and impact of nutritional supplementation was not a priority to me or in my practice until recently.

In 2005, I heard Dr. Ladd McNamara speak about the benefits of quality nutritional supplements, and the incredible impact that they have in maintaining health if properly balanced with a proper diet and exercise program, and if used on a daily basis for life. He cited medical studies and talked about the experiences he had in his medical practice.  He spoke with such passion and credibility, that soon I started on a full program he recommended. It wasn't long before I noticed I had more energy, stamina, reduced arthritic pain in my hands, and an overall sense of well-being. 

I was able to work with my hands in people's mouths all day without the pain that I had. Wow, what a difference!  I was never promised I would notice any of this, ... I just happened to notice the changes in my health.  Even my migraines were less frequent and less severe. I had taken vitamins before, but the difference these supplements made in my health was real and dramatic.
For more than 10 years, research has shown a link between oral health and systemic health. This has caused the medical and dental professions to sit up and take notice.  There is a correlation between high inflammatory bacterial levels in oral tissue and the risk for heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, and most other chronic inflammatory diseases of aging. 
Only about 25% of people brush their teeth after each meal.  Fifty percent of people brush their teeth twice a day, and the rest brush their teeth once a day or less.  Is it any wonder that up to 75% of Americans are affected by some degree of gingivitis and periodontitis from bacterial build up?  Of consequence, bacteria from inflamed gums easily get into the blood stream and systemic inflammation and disease begin.  Chronic inflammation that begins in the mouth and seeds the blood stream has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Type II diabetes.  These reports are documented at major research institutions and universities.
C. Everett Koop, M.D., the former Surgeon General of the United States, said, "You're not healthy unless you have good oral health."
The evidence for this connection is that the species of bacteria that cause periodontitis has been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries of the heart.  People with periodontitis have elevated C reactive protein, an inflammatory marker associated oxidative damage, which is the major cause of atherosclerotic heart disease and stroke (refer to the book, "The Cholesterol Conspiracy" by Ladd McNamara, M.D.).
As mentioned, periodontal disease is a risk factor for insulin intolerance, the development of Type II diabetes, and worsening Type II diabetes in those who have the disease.  Diabetics who don't control their blood sugar develop periodontal disease more often and more severely than diabetics who maintain glycemic control.  Studies have shown that diabetics who eliminate periodontal infection and inflammation have improved glycemic control suggesting that maintaining optimal oral hygiene is not only important for all of us, it is crucial for those with insulin intolerance and diabetes.
What was new to me, was the information that Dr. Ladd McNamara  shared with me about the association between periodontal disease and preterm labor and low birth weight babies.  Actually, it makes sense because the bacteria that seed inflamed gums get into the blood stream and make their way throughout the entire body, including the pregnant uterus and placenta.  Infections in the uterus are a well-known cause for preterm labor and delivery.
In order to control oral bacteria levels, we have been armed with a myriad of treatments: professional dental procedures, antibiotics, antibacterial mouthwashes, and home care tools.  There is even a high quality natural toothpaste that Dr. McNamara and I now recommend that contains antioxidants and enzymes that are particularly good at NOT allowing the bacteria to stick to your teeth and gums in the first place, ...which is the initiating step in periodontal plaque build up (see my blog where I talk about this: http://trueoralhealth.blogspot.com).
In recent years, studies have shown that high serum levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and co-Q10 ward off bacteria and maintain gum health.  However, there are other antioxidants with powerful antioxidant activity, such as grape seed extract and turmeric extract that are proving to be more powerful in protecting our health, especially if used in combination with the other nutrients. Antioxidant effects of the gums and throughout the body are occurring in part due to the reduction of bacteria.  These incredible properties of nutritional supplements should NOT be ignored, as their potency and power in maintaining healthy gums translate into the assistance of maintaining healthy hearts, glycemic control, and healthy immune systems.  Proper diet, exercise and daily nutritional supplementation with quality vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the omega-3 fatty acids all add up to maintaining and promoting lifelong health.  Supplements used in conjunction with a quality natural toothpaste work synergistically to help protect and heal damaged tissue in the mouth and throughout the body.  My advice would be to use all these products at least twice a day, ...if not after each meal. 
Gum disease (periodontitis) is an overall systemic issue that is preventable and treatable through:

  • Professional Dental Care
  • Proper Oral Hygiene (including Natural Toothpaste)
  • Proper Nutritional Supplementation
  • Healthy Lifestyle

In summary, it is clear that nutritional supplementation with quality nutritional supplements and a natural toothpaste is a wise adjunct to supporting oral health.  Thus, if your dentist or dental hygienist starts talking to you about a natural toothpaste and broad spectrum, high quality supplements to improve your oral hygiene and overall health, it may be time to sit up, ...spit, AND listen!

Please check out my BLOGS about TRUE ORAL HEALTH: http://trueoralhealth.blogspot.com

The Cholesterol Conspiracy

2nd Edition by Ladd McNamara, M.D. exposes what the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know; that quality nutritional supplements help maintain heart health.

Power of Cellular Nutrition

The Power of Cellular Nutrition by Ladd McNamara, M.D. is an international best-selling audio CD on the importance and impact of quality nutritional supplements and the impact they can have on your health.

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