A lesson the dental industry should learn from COVID-19

By Alvin Danenberg, DDS, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

June 30, 2020 -- There is nothing good that I can say about the novel coronavirus, its resulting pandemic, or the severe toll it has taken on lives and the economy. However, there is an important lesson that may come out of this horrific time in our lives.

The lesson is revealing and basic. It is the condition in which we find ourselves. It is the reality that we are not a healthy society. The fact is that our immune system has been deficient to fight this virus and take it down.

What's going on?

The reality

Dr. Alvin Danenberg
Alvin Danenberg, DDS.

Three examples of our underlying health concerns come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Statistics gathered show 60% of American adults have a chronic disease,1 70% of American deaths are caused by a chronic disease,2 and 72% of our population is overweight.3 The events of COVID-19 painfully and abruptly have shown medical professionals and the general public that we must take proactive measures to ensure a healthier body going forward. A physiologically unhealthy body cannot fight infections. An unhealthy body will continue to succumb to viruses and other pathogens.

We have become aware that underlying health conditions are mostly a result of poor lifestyle choices and indulgent dietary habits. If we want to honor longevity and secure a future without chronic disease, then we must make changes. We must become educated about what to do. We must become proactive in our own health. We must be taught about healthier lifestyle choices and foods to eat as well as not to eat. The government won't do it. Pills won't do it. Improved insurance coverage won't do it.

In my opinion, this opens up an opportunity for the biological dentist. He or she is the perfect medical professional to start the ball rolling. Why?

Role of biological dentists

Dentists obviously focus on the mouth. Biological dentists comprehend the importance of a strong immune system for oral health and overall well-being. Well-educated dentists understand that nutrition is critical for cells to function properly. They know that every cell in the body can communicate with every other cell in the body. Biologically trained dentists realize that the mouth is a mirror of systemic health as well as systemic disease. Because dentists see many of their patients at least twice a year, they have the continuous opportunity to monitor a patient's overall health and influence that patient's self-care.

Immune system

About 70% to 80% of our immune system resides in our gut. The cells of the immune system and the gut bacteria regulate and support one another. If the garden of healthy gut bacteria becomes overgrown with harmful bacteria, then the interplay between the gut bacteria and the immune system can become severely compromised. In addition, if the gut barrier membrane becomes damaged, unhealthy toxic substances will leak out from the gut lumen into the blood system (i.e., leaky gut). The toxic reaction in the bloodstream is called metabolic endotoxemia, which then leads to chronic system inflammation. This spread of inflammation throughout the body via the circulatory system could lead to the manifestation of various chronic and autoimmune diseases. An unhealthy gut, a compromised immune system, and systemic inflammation will cause disease and other changes in the mouth.

The mouth is the entrance for nutrients into our body. And proper nutrition and lifestyle changes can repair an unhealthy gut and improve the functions of the immune system. Biological dentists may be the first healthcare professionals to visualize and diagnose problems in the mouth and enter into a discussion about the methods to improve a patient's immune system. Uniquely, biological dentists are in a position to repair the damage to the mouth. Also, they can refer patients to other medical professionals when necessary to treat various remote health problems manifesting in the mouth.

To start off, biological dentists can evaluate a person's diet by interpreting his or her 3-day food journal. They can learn about a patient's current lifestyle choices by taking a complete medical and dental history. The dentist is ideally situated to gather all these facts and begin to suggest lifestyle changes and dietary changes to enhance the immune system.

The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM) offers an online program for dentists to become a certified biological nutritional dental professional. The program details the natural methods to improve an ailing and dysfunctional immune system.

Economic changes

Interestingly, COVID-19 also has created positive changes in the economic and investment world. Investors are switching their attention from what was previously considered important to what is truly important: human health. A June 1 article by MarketWatch stated there will be a distinct emphasis on preventive medicine and specifically the methods to strengthen the performance of the human immune system.

Longevity and quality of life are becoming the focus in the biotech space, and individuals cannot live long if they are not properly protected from pandemic threats. A strengthened immune system may be able to fight and neutralize diseases early. An immune system functioning at peak performance can increase the quality of life and prevent debilitating chronic diseases. There is even a specialty investment fund focused on the longevity industry. It is truly compelling that the investment world is emphasizing a means to boost the immune system moving forward.

Summary

As patients become educated about health, longevity, and a robust immune system, they will demand healthcare professionals to guide them in their decisions. A properly trained biological dentist is the ideal health professional to have an in-depth conversation with the patient to help achieve these goals. The biological dentist understands the interrelationships between the mouth and the rest of the body. Biological dentists can assist patients with developing a healthy diet, a healthy gut, a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy immune system. All will lead to a healthy mouth, which is the purview of the biological dentist.

References

  1. Chronic disease in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  2. About chronic disease. University of Michigan Center for Managing Chronic Disease website. https://cmcd.sph.umich.edu/about/about-chronic-disease/. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  3. National Center for Health Statistics: Obesity and overweight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm. Accessed June 29, 2020.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS, has retired from the private practice of periodontics in Bluffton, SC. He continues to be on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is drdanenberg.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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