Want to spend less on medical care? You could do far worse than making a bigger investment in keeping your mouth as healthy as it can be. The mass of evidence linking periodontal (gum) health and systemic health only continues to grow.
In fact, since our recent posts on gum disease, heart disease, and stroke, more studies highlighting the mouth/body connection have dropped. This includes research on the relationship of gum disease and Meniere disease, and another on its link with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Conditions like these have a number of things in common. The new RA research, for instance, identifies oral bacteria that appear to correspond to arthritic flare-ups. Similarly, oral bacteria have been found in the hearts of cardiovascular patients and in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Another common denominator? Chronic inflammation.
Chronic Inflammation from Mouth to the Rest of the Body
Chronic inflammation is the hallmark of periodontal disease. It signals deepening infection in the soft tissues of the mouth. The body’s immune and other defense systems are on constant red alert, hustling to do all they can to clear the pathogens so the body can heal.
“Although the inflammatory processes occur locally in the oral cavity,” write the authors of a 2019 paper on periodontal disease and cancer,
several studies have determined that inflammatory mediators produced during periodontitis, as well as subgingival species and bacterial components, can disseminate from the oral cavity, contributing therefore, to various extraoral diseases like cancer.
In other words, the local infection – gum disease – doesn’t stay local. Inflammatory markers such as cytokines, as well as harmful bacteria can spread through the body and contribute to disease far from the mouth. This concept is what’s known as focal infection theory.
At the same time, it’s been well documented that lifestyle factors contribute greatly to chronic inflammation – things like poor diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, lack of quality sleep, and more. Notably, these are all also specific risk factors for gum disease.
Gum Disease Means a Higher Risk of Other Diseases
“Many recent studies explore the interrelationship between oral health, inflammation, and systemic disease,” write the authors of a 2019 review on perio/systemic health.
Oral microbiota can cause oral inflammation but may also directly contribute to systemic inflammation, increasing inflammation through the release of toxins or leakage of microbial products into the bloodstream. The association between oral inflammation and systemic inflammation is fundamental to understanding the detrimental effects of oral inflammation on several organ systems and the ability of oral disease to increase the risk of developing non-oral disease.
When the inflammation becomes chronic – ongoing, long-term – there can be significant effects on the immune system and, in turn, whole body health.
Shifts in the inflammatory response from short- to long-lived can cause a breakdown of immune tolerance and lead to major alterations in all tissues and organs, as well as normal cellular physiology, which can increase the risk for various non-communicable diseases in both young and older individuals. SCI [systemic chronic inflammation] can also impair normal immune function, leading to increased susceptibility to infections and tumors and a poor response to vaccines.
Indeed, one of the things that’s been seen with COVID is that poor oral health makes infection with the coronavirus that much more likely.
A System of Systems
You are not just a mouth and a body. Rather, you are a singular, magnificently designed system – a system of systems that interact with each other physically and energetically. Those interactions determine our level of health. One responsibility we each have is making sure we take good care of it, giving the mouth/body organism that you are all the resources it needs to thrive and steering clear of what will drag it down. Healthy food, not hyper-processed products. Regular exercise, not a life of sitting, staring at screens. Enough good quality sleep, not a few restless hours and the urge to nap through the day. Managing stress with strategies that keep it from managing you. You get the idea.
Both mouth and body – not to mention your immune system – will thank you.
Of course mouth and body are connected. Nothing could be more obvious, even as mainstream dentistry has long been done in ways that assume that the teeth and their supporting tissues somehow exist independently from the rest of a person.
But the mouth/body connection isn’t just physical. As we’ve noted before, it’s energetic, too. Just as your body has a circulatory system through which blood moves, it has a meridian system through which subtle energy moves. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this energy is called qi (chi); in Ayurveda, prana.
Like the electrical signals that convey information between the brain and the rest of the body and individual cells, qi conveys information, vibrationally rather than electromagnetically. Because of this, there’s a role for energy medicine in biological dental care.
Homeopathy: Informational Energy Medicine
Energy medicine refers to a wide range of therapies that aim to manipulate the body’s subtle energy to spur healing or sustain good health. Familiar forms of this type of treatment include acupuncture, Reiki, and homeopathy.
Homeopathy can also be considered a kind of informational medicine. It essentially tells the body what needs to be done to resolve the symptoms it’s experiencing. Homeopathic remedies are one way of stimulating the body’s natural ability to self-regulate and heal.
It’s important to keep in mind that symptoms are not the illness. They’re signs that the body is doing what it can to heal, whether that’s to remove an infection, detox harmful substances, or otherwise rebound from what caused it to become sick in the first place.
But where pharmaceuticals create their effects with specific molecules that compel the body to suppress symptoms, homeopathics do so via changes in the structure of a carrier substance such as water or a sugar pill. The creation of a homeopathic remedy impresses the carrier substance with information to deliver to the body’s own subtle energy fields, which in turn pass along that information to be used as needed or otherwise ignored.
Strictly speaking, homeopathics are not used to “treat disease.” What they do is provide corrective information energetically that encourages healing. They are messengers.
What happens with the messages they deliver depends entirely on happenings within the person who’s receiving it.
Putting Homeopathy to Work in Dental Care
Many dental conditions can be improved with the aid of homeopathic remedies. For instance, one randomized clinical trial of patients with severe gum disease found that while all improved with periodontal treatment, those who also received homeopathics showed greater improvement. A more recent review of the science found that the clinical trials that matched their criteria “showed positive effects on oral health,” although the authors noted that more and better science in this area still needs to be done.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that most dental problems don’t resolve on their own without professional treatment. For instance, there are at least a dozen remedies that may offer relief from toothache pain, from Antimonium crudum to Staphysagria. Still, it’s important to have the cause of the pain properly diagnosed and treated, whether it’s a fractured or infected tooth, an imbalanced bite, or other cause.
Always, it’s vital to treat root causes rather than symptoms. While Chamomilla, Calcarea phosphorica, Rhus toxicodendron, and other remedies may offer relief from TMJ pain, they don’t necessarily address the actual source of the dysfunction.
Still, it can be good to keep some remedies on hand for when dental emergencies arise, to see you through until you can come in to see us for proper diagnosis and root cause treatment. Here are just a few that you might want to keep on hand:
- Aconitum Napellus: To reduce fear and anxiety before a dental appointment.
- Arnica Montana: To reduce swelling and ease discomfort following dental procedures. It can also have a calming effect.
- Calendula Tincture: To promote healing and prevent infection.
- Chamomilia: To reduce pain and swelling; often found in teething remedies.
- Hypericum Perforatum: To reduce extreme pain, especially in the case of nerve injury.
You’ll find a comprehensive list of dental remedies and their uses here.
Energy Medicine at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey
We often use homeopathics here in our biological dental office in Millburn, both as a supportive therapy in treating common dental problems, as well as a tool for facilitating detox after the removal of dental barriers to health – the removal of old mercury amalgam fillings, say, or infected root canal teeth or cavitations. They can also be used to prepare the body for detox before such dental procedures are done.
As ever, the specific protocols are customized to each patient’s needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that we use. Rather, our doctors look at the big picture and make their recommendations accordingly.