The mouth is the gauge of the body's health
Six subclinical defects are present in all chronic illnesses, infections, and toxicities .
Six subclinical defects are present in all chronic illnesses, infections, and toxicities ... and they all show up in the mouth!
It all began several years ago when I received a phone call telling me that a recently drawn blood sample revealed signs of kidney failure. I remember thinking how strange this was since I had never experienced any sign or symptom involving my kidneys. To make matters worse, my father was in the terminal stages of kidney failure, and at the time, the cause of his problems was unknown. In a dramatic way, it showed me that medicine today is focused on disease and not health. Our “disease-care” system functions best when a crisis arises or a disease is identified. All the changes that occur within the body when a disease begins to manifest itself are usually ignored, and it is not until a label is applied to a set of symptoms that action is taken.
What is health?
So what is health? Surely it is much more than the absence of disease. Just because we are not sick doesn’t mean we are healthy. The reference ranges seen in blood chemistries today are a reflection of the state of health of the general populace (they come from patients entering hospitals) and have little to do with what health is. It takes decades for many of the chronic illnesses we see so commonly today to express themselves. We don’t typically all of a sudden get plaque in our arteries and have a heart attack. It takes a long time for this plaque to build up and the evidence of its presence shows up in the blood chemistry long before the heart attack occurs. In dentistry, a patient doesn’t all of a sudden lose a tooth from gum disease. It takes awhile for the gum to recede and the bone to dissolve, and numerous early signs tell us way in advance that a problem is developing.
You see, in dentistry, we know what a healthy mouth looks like. We have a model of health against which we compare our patients at each recare visit. When the patient begins to stray from this model of health, we discuss with them the options available that will bring their oral health back in line with this model. Usually, these options include doing nothing, stopping the disease process, and/or restoring the broken parts of the system to more closely resemble the model. As dentists, we believe and our experience tells us that all disease is preventable and that people can have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. We also know that wellness is a shared experience and that our patients and the dental team must work together.
With the help of H. L. “Sam” Queen, a researcher, biochemist, and nutritionist from Colorado Springs, I was able to use natural methods to reverse the damage and restore my kidneys to normal function. My father, by contrast, was told of his kidney problem (which was the same as mine) 10 years previously and was placed on a meaningless diet. When his kidneys finally failed, dialysis was begun, then a transplant followed, and he died of complications from the transplant. It brought home in a painful way how dysfunctional our system has become and the need for each of us to assume full responsibility for our health.
Establishing a health model
What Queen has done is to establish a health model. He created reference ranges that are a reflection of health and, as you can imagine, have a much more narrow range. Like many of us, he believes that our bodies are the heroes, that we are created by design, and that given the right nutrients, we can remain healthy and free of disease. In a very unique way, he can ask the body questions through the design of a unique blood profile, understand where a person’s chemistry has strayed from the health model, and determine what the body needs to return to health. Finally, he has identified six subclinical (not readily visible) defects that are present in all chronic illnesses, infections, and toxicities. Ironically, all six defects are seen by dentists every day as we look into the mouths of our patients.
You could easily describe health as the opposite of these six defects. A stable acid/base balance, a healthy balance of free and bound calcium in the blood, a robust aerobic metabolism, a healthy acute inflammatory response, connective tissue integrity, and a good balance of oxidant/antioxidant activity within the body would be a good representation of a healthy individual.
Before we take a look at these defects, keep in mind that the body is much more complex than I am making it out to be in this short article, and that the “one size fits all”/quick-fix mentality so pervasive in our society today can be very dangerous. Only through careful analysis of your blood chemistry can you truly determine how best to eliminate these six defects. In addition, the order in which these defects are handled is extremely important and should not be compromised. For example, to begin taking antioxidants without dealing with the other defects first can be a very dangerous path.
The most tightly controlled parameter in the human body is the pH of arterial blood, with the range being between 7.35-7.45. The body will not let things get outside of this range or we will die. By far, there is a much stronger tendency for our bodies to become acidic (where arterial pH falls below 7.4) than alkaline (where arterial pH rises above 7.4). Eating foods with refined flour and sugar, excess alcohol consumption, drinking coffee on an empty stomach, and exposure to environmental toxins such as plastics, solvents, pesticides, mercury, and other heavy metals can all lower the pH. Any time insulin is stimulated by eating refined foods or foods such as carrot juice, white potatoes, beets and orange juice, we will burn sugar, store fat, and make acid. When coffee - which is acidic - hits an empty stomach, hydrochloric acid is released and both go into the gut and are absorbed by the blood, thus lowering the pH. The more alkaline the blood, the greater amounts of oxygen it can carry.
Changes in the pH of the blood are seen in the pH of the saliva. For years, I’ve observed patients with rampant decay and little plaque, only to learn since we started checking the pH of the saliva that some had a pH of 5.5, what has been termed the critical pH. At this pH, minerals leave teeth and bone. Small changes in the pH of the blood have a tremendous effect on the pH of the saliva. Exercise and eating certain foods, (for example, proteins) can stimulate the thyroid which burns fat, makes oxygen, and makes us more alkaline. Finally, eating cultured dairy products and drinking lemon water also will help us to become more alkaline.
Free calcium excess
When acidic, one of the ways the body will raise the pH is by sending the blood into the bone and extracting phosphates. These phosphates help to neutralize the acids. Interestingly, attached to these phosphates are calcium ions, which are discarded in the process. Ever hear of kidney stones, hardening of the arteries, or the need for calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure? How about tartar on the teeth? Ever wonder what the hygienist is scraping off your teeth? We’ve observed calcium deposits for so long on our patients’ teeth that we’ve come to believe it is normal, lending credence to the concept that what is common must be normal. In health, we get no calcium deposits on our teeth. Autopsies are showing routine calcification of the pineal gland, the gland that makes melatonin, so that we can sleep well and make repairs. Do you know of anyone who has trouble sleeping? It is clear that taking calcium supplements in the presence of an acid pH will not result in calcium entering the bones. The concept that every woman should take 1,200 mg per day of calcium is ludicrous in light of this knowledge.
The more acidic we become, the more our metabolism switches to anaerobic metabolism. The bugs that cause our most serious infections love an acidic, sweet, and oxygen-free environment. Wouldn’t it make sense that in fighting an infection, we would make it uncomfortable for those bacteria that are trying to hurt us by decreasing our sugar and refined foods intake, making ourselves more alkaline, and if possible, doing a little walking or some other form of mild exercise? Why would anyone fighting an infection drink a soft drink filled with phosphoric acid and at least 10 teaspoons of sugar?
In 1997, Dr. Alan Fogelman in his keynote address to the American Heart Association revealed that the underlying defect in heart disease was chronic inflammation. It always precedes the deposition of calcium and cholesterol. The risk of heart attack is dramatically increased when there is active gum disease present. As a practicing dentist, I can tell you this new knowledge gave a whole new meaning to bleeding gums and “watching” failing root canals. Without the use of specific blood chemistries, there is no way that a dentist can determine whether gum disease and failing root canals are affecting our patients’ overall health. It seems prudent to not have any chronic, long-term inflammatory conditions in our mouths or anywhere else in our bodies. Routinely taking anti-inflammatory drugs without getting to the source of the inflammation appears risky. Finally, all cancer metastasis begins in an acidic, calcium-rich environment and in the presence of chronic inflammation.
Connective tissue breakdown
Connective tissue breakdown is evident in varicose veins, hernias, hemorrhoids, lower back pain (ligaments begin to unravel and discs begin to slip), popping jaw joints, and, of course, gum disease. It is as though the invisible wiring that holds us together begins to unwind, as does a piece of meat in the stomach as it is attacked by the hydrochloric acid. It is a huge factor in aging and all the sagging that goes with gravity seeming to win the war as we grow old.
Finally, so many of the chronic diseases we see today are due in great measure to the presence of oxidative stress caused by an abundance of free radicals. Some of the sources of free radicals are cigarette smoking, toxic wastes in the colon, chronic inflammation, UV light, excess alcohol consumption, exposure to mercury and other heavy metals, and excess stored iron. Free radical production is greatly enhanced in an acidic environment. Taking antioxidants in the presence of a low pH will greatly reduce the effectiveness of these supplements and, in some cases, may produce deleterious effects.
One size does not fit all!
So there you have it … the antithesis of the “one-size-fits-all” mentality. So much good will come as this state-of-the-art information (which usually precedes standard of care by 10 to 15 years) filters down to practicing health-care professionals. The ultimate driving force for change will come from patients, especially those with multiple symptoms, who are tired of having their symptoms treated and want to get to the cause of their problems. This information and its subsequent implementation will, in my opinion, be the answer to the spiraling costs within our health-care system.
Mike Robichaux, DDS, graduated in the charter class at LSU’s School of Dentistry. After serving two years in the U.S. Navy, he began private practice in Slidell, La., with a special interest in comprehensive care and an emphasis on treating TMJ and its related problems. He is a past president of the New Orleans Dental Association and the Louisiana AGD, and was inducted into the American Academy of Dental Practice Association in 1997. He lectures nationwide on the philosophy of private care. Contact him by e-mail at email@example.com.