Are you one of the 200 million Americans that use mouthwash as part of your daily oral hygiene routine? If so, you may want to evaluate what you’re actually rinsing with to see if it’s causing more harm than good. Everyone has what’s known as an oral microbiome. Just like you have a gut biome, ear biome, vaginal biome, etc, your mouth has about 700 different types of bacteria, both good and bad. Unfortunately, what can happen is that the oral microbiome gets overtaken by more bad bugs then good. This will result in an underlying bacterial infection that can wreak havoc on your whole health because if you have disease in your mouth, you have systemic disease as there are no fences in your body. You have one tube, it starts in your mouth and goes all the way out.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease has been around for thousands of years. However, it wasn’t until our diets started changing to more “cereals” and simple carbohydrates that the disease became more prevalent. First, let me explain what periodontal disease is. Our teeth are rooted in our jaw bone and periodontal disease is a disease that affects the bone holding your teeth in place. If you lose your bone, you lose your teeth, plain and simple. Almost 80% of Americans have some form of gum disease and keep in mind that the number one killer of US citizens is cardiovascular disease. Periodontal disease is a disease that is SEVERELY underdiagnosed but has serious implications for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, strokes, diabetes, pre-term/low birth weight babies, colo-rectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, to name a few. That’s because there are 11 bad bugs that are causative and despite a meticulous oral hygiene regimen, you can still have varying degrees of periodontal disease if these bugs are out of control. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease in that the bone is still healthy, but the tissue is not. Untreated gingivitis CAN lead to periodontal disease. I wish that this disease was painful from the very start, but it isn’t, so getting people to understand the importance of their oral health is difficult especially when the symptoms go unnoticed. Keep in mind that you won’t realize you have “head rot” until your teeth are ready to fall out or you have such terrible bleeding and painful gums you finally go to the dentist that you’ve avoided like the plague for years. Bottom line is that you never want to wait until you feel symptoms because by then it makes getting into remission very difficult. Just like with decay, you never feel a cavity when it’s in the enamel. Only once the cavity has progressed into the nerve of the tooth do you realize you have a problem and instead of the problem costing $300-400 dollars, now it will cost $3-4,000 dollars to fix just one tooth. That’s why prevention is key. There are several tests (https://simplysilver.as.me/schedule.php by Oral DNA is one) that can show whether or not you have some of these microbes above a normal thresh hold and I highly recommend getting tested to see where your levels are at.
How Long has Periodontal Disease Been Around?
Less I digress, periodontal disease has become more and more prevalent since the 1970’s. I believe our diet is the main culprit because America, as a whole, has the most unhealthy food on the planet. In fact, the United States is THE most obese nation in the world. Our food is truly not real “food;” it’s nothing but synthetic chemicals that have a shelf life of years with zero nutritional benefits. The induction of genetically modified organisms or GMO’s, has opened up a Pandora’s box of health issues that have been detrimental to our gut health in general. If you have gut dysbiosis, you have poor digestion, leaky gut, IBS, candida overgrowth or a myriad of intestinal issues that may be a root cause to whatever chronic symptom you’re having. MOST disease is actually inflammatory based so reducing inflammatory foods and overall inflammation in the body is critical. A helpful diagnostic blood test such as a CRP test is a great marker for understanding what your inflammatory levels are.
Can Mouthwashes be Beneficial in Treating Periodontal Disease?
I just love this question! In most cases, the answer is no because commercial mouthwashes fall into the category “cosmetics,” so they contain a lot of harsh chemicals that are mainly very acidic to the oral microbiome. Here is a non-inclusive list of the pH of some popular mouthwashes (I listed the pH of mine as well for reference). Keep in mind anything under a 5.5 pH can create a cavity, hence why I say most mouthwashes are nothing but acid.
Act Mouth Rinse 6.0 – 7.6
Act Restoring Mouthrinse 6.6
Breath RX Mouthrinse 4.6
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste 5.6
Crest Pro Health Mouth Rinse 3.8 to 4.8
Crest 3-D White Multi Care Whitening Rinse 5.4
Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthrinse 3.5
Listerine Zero 4.3
Listerine Whitening Vibrant White Pre-Brush Rinse 5.8
Listerine Antiseptic Mouthrinse 4.2
Peroxyl Antiseptic Mouthrinse 3.9
Scope Mouthwash 5.5
Simply Silver Mouthwash Mint 7+
Simply Silver Mouthwash Spearmint with Nano Hydroxyapatite 8+
Smart Mouth Mouthrinse 4.4
Smile Guard Orthodontic Brace Relief Rinse 6.1
The Natural Dentist Anti-gingivitis Rinse 3.3
The Natural Dentist 3.7
Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthrinse 3.1
Once you rinse with an acidic mouthwash, it can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to normalize the pH back to a 7. However, if you’re a soda drinker, one soda has a pH level anywhere from 2.5-4 (battery acid is a 1), so it can take up to 3 days for your pH level to come back to a 7. That’s pretty scary when you think about how disease can enter our body. We have a frequency ranging between 62-78 Hz but a diseased body has a frequency of 58 or lower. Soda, processed foods and meats have a frequency of zero. We are electrical beings by design so whatever we do to our bodies via diet, stress, exercise or lack thereof, etc. will have an impact. When you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you don’t need to add gasoline to the fire with the use of highly acidic and chemically laden products. Getting to the root cause is of the utmost importance and doing things to alkaline the body via diet and oral care products are essential. You want a healthy symbiosis of gut flora and oral flora in order to maintain a healthy mouth/body.
Oxalate Toxicity and Periodontal Disease
Sometimes it can take a while to get to the root cause of why your body is dealing with this disease. Underlying bacterial infections, as mentioned previously, are the most common root cause, but there are a couple other conditions that may be the culprit. Oxalate toxicity is one of those conditions rarely discussed, let alone diagnosed. I was baffled as a practicing hygienist why my vegan patients seemed to struggle with periodontal disease. Granted, just because one says they are “vegan” doesn’t mean they are eating healthy, but I was troubled as to why they seemed to have not only periodontal disease, but dental decay as well.
What is Oxalate Toxicity?
Plants inherently have a chemical defense system that protects them from being invaded. One of these chemicals is oxalate or oxalic acid. This acid can be detrimental to your mind and body. Kidney stones are a common side effect of oxalate toxicity, but oxalates impact multiple organ systems and are neurotoxic, so it can lead to joint pain, GI issues, anxiety, sleep problems, depression, chronic sinus infections, arthritis, osteoporosis, genital and rectal pain, gut problems, and yes, periodontal disease. Oxalate toxicity and leaky gut syndrome go hand in hand. Again, it all goes back to having a healthy gut biome as it will inevitably affect the oral microbiome. When you have an inflamed or leaky gut, you absorb 5-10 times more oxalate because the “holes” in your gut so to speak, are allowing the oxalate to flood in. Because oxalate creates dysbiosis and yeast overgrowth, it is a nuclear bomb for your gut microbiome. In general, this will make you more acidic and allow other pathogens to proliferate out of control.
Foods That Contain High Oxalates
You can see why someone who strictly eats these “health” foods can make themself more sick. I believe in having a balanced diet as eliminating complete food groups may be a problem. I’m not saying it is for everyone, but if you are someone with periodontal disease and are a vegan or vegetarian, have yourself tested. You can do what’s called an OAT test to see if you are toxic and that is a test I also offer on my website.
MTHFR and Periodontal Disease
Another underlying cause of periodontal disease that is grossly overlooked, is having the MTHFR mutation (no I’m not cussing). MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and this gene is responsible for processing amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. This is a very in-depth topic so here is the link to learn more https://bit.ly/3oFVZ5J
To summarize, because mutations in the MTHFR gene disrupt the body’s ability to process vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9), they impair one or more of your “nutritional pathways,” meaning they stop some of the nutrition you consume from being used the way it should. So as a result, your body will not be able to detox properly and you will build up toxic compounds that cause oxidative damage to your cells and DNA. Symptoms of this mutation are chronic cavities, gum disease, spina bifida, migraines, chronic fatigue, MS, colon cancer, depression and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. There is also a test you can do to determine whether or not you have this mutation. Click here https://bit.ly/3PPcHvm
Mouth Breathing, Airway Issues, Malocclusion and Periodontal Disease
Believe it or not, how you breathe is so important for having a healthy mouth and body. Dry mouth affects the oral microbiome and is the number one cause of tooth decay. Breathing through your mouth can actually be a root cause of periodontal disease as well. I highly recommend seeing an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist in getting assessed.
Hopefully now that some of the underlying causes of periodontal disease have been discussed, you can start getting to the bottom of what YOU need to do as we are all incredible, unique creations. What works for one person, may not work for another. Remember to use products that will alkaline your mouth/body and not make it more acidic. There is no need to swish with commercial mouthwashes that make periodontal disease worse, not better. Stay tuned for my next blog on how to treat periodontal disease.
Heather the Hygienist, CBDH, CRDH