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At Integrative Dentistry one of the first things we do is look for infections in the mouth so that your body and barrier systems remain healthy. What is a barrier system? A barrier system keeps what’s bad for you on the outside rather than getting into your body, or deeper into your body.

Your main barrier systems are your skin, intestinal lining, the placenta, and the blood/brain barrier. They protect your overall health. Your gums are also a barrier system, meant to protect your teeth, jaw bone and the rest of your body from bacteria and microbes that can cause stress to your immune system or infections in certain important organs. 

So your gums, along with the lymphatic system in your mouth, are a first line defense system providing protection against foreign invaders. In addition, without healthy gums, you could eventually lose your teeth and the ability to chew. Here are examples that illustrate the breakdown of barrier systems and their effect on our health:

  • Leaky Gut: This occurs when the intestinal lining gets inflamed and its barrier system is violated. It can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), or Crohn’s disease. Stress can also be a decisive factor in this breakdown. Other causes can be poor diet, toxicity, chemicals, drugs, heavy metals or imbalance in the microbiome due to antibiotics.

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s: Research shows that once microbes cross the blood brain barrier, they contribute to the inflammatory amyloid plaque found there. The effect of this is similar to the plaque found in our blood vessels, i.e. inflammation. In conditions of the brain, amyloid plaque has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. One of the most common invasive microbes that can be found in the brain is P. Gingivalis, a key pathogen associated with gum disease. Spirochetes are another, and are among the most aggressive bacteria in the mouth. They can change form to evade an immune response and will bore into cells to replace   and destroy healthy tissue. They often contribute to gum disease, as illustrated in this video. Chemicals and  heavy metals can also invade the brain when the blood/ brain barrier is violated. This can cause inflammation, breakdown and eventual death of nerves cells in the brain.

  • Preterm and Low Weight Birth: When the placental barrier is violated by mercury, which is a heavy metal, it can lead to adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth (PTB: <37 weeks vs 39 weeks gestation) and low birth weight (LBW: <5.5 lbs). This can result in severe infant morbidity and mortality and is  the reason that some patients have their mercury levels tested and amalgam fillings removed before becoming pregnant.

Surprisingly, inflammation and infections in the mouth don’t always cause pain. That’s why it’s so important to be actively looking for infections in the mouth or chronic inflammation in the mouth, a condition called gingivitis or gum disease. This may be painless and go undiagnosed for years. If you aren’t going to the dentist for regular check-ups and going to someone who is looking for these kinds of infections, you may be unknowingly harming your immune system, heart or other organs of your body.

And once you find these kinds of infections, you have to know what to do about them and how to get rid of them. What we have found is that laser technology is the best way to treat both infections of the gums or infections in the teeth and jaw. In combination with ozone in some cases, Dr O and Dr Bae have seen resolution and healing while before it was not possible. 

At Integrative Dentistry, we feel that any source of pain, inflammation or infection is bad for your overall health as well as your dental health, and needs to be addressed. Often a particular sequencing of treatment is necessary for a successful outcome, so that your dental health can support your overall systemic health. If you want to see if you have any hidden infections in your mouth, please make an appointment with Dr O or Dr Bae to evaluate your gums and/or your old root canals to see if you have any hidden infections that need to be treated and if you are a candidate for laser therapy.