thoughtful expressionSometimes, when your knowledge expands, a little chaos is created, too. You may need to let go of old ways of knowing, of things you’ve thought to be true for many, many years.

It’s far easier to not ask questions and stick with the familiar path – like those dentists who cling to things like mercury amalgam, root canals, and such, despite all the evidence showing that their risks may outweigh their benefits.

And this brings us to a curious paper published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). It seems some are dismayed by the resurgence of focal infection theory in orthodox dentistry.

Despite the large and growing body of research highlighting the relationship between gum disease and other chronic inflammatory health problems – “The mouth is a base camp of chronic inflammation of the human body,” as the author of one recent paper on oral foci nicely put it – the authors insist that “promoting oral health care because of its possible effect on systemic disease is premature and may be misleading.”

Now, we can’t disagree with their statement that promoting oral health is a good in and of itself:

As oral health care providers, we know that having good oral health has many advantages and that poor oral health has many disadvantages. Effective and efficient chewing, enjoyment of food, pleasing appearance, self-confidence, and freedom from pain and infection are just a few of the benefits of good oral health. Good oral health alone justifies preventing oral disease and maintaining oral health.

But that doesn’t mean you then need to discount the vast body of literature revealing other benefits, as well – a literature that goes back as far as the time of Hippocrates, who reported curing arthritis by extracting a tooth. It’s more than just the perio-systemic relationship. too. Root canal teeth and implants, chronic ischemic bone disease (cavitations), mercury fillings, and more can likewise have whole body effects.

As Dr. Voll taught, 80 to 90% of all systemic health problems may actually start in – or be influenced by – the mouth. That influence is physiological, biochemical, and energetic, all ultimately guided by the health of the biological terrain.

Research also suggests that addressing oral foci may lead to improvement in various systemic health issues. Most recently, for instance, a study in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology showed that treating gum disease may help diabetic patients with glucose control. A 2017 study in the Journal of Dermatology, to offer just one more among many examples, found that psoriasis-type symptoms improved once oral focal infection was addressed.

Two things can be true at the same time. Yes, the pursuit of oral health is a good in and of itself. Yes, pursuing good oral health supports good overall health.

These ideas are not mutually exclusive. They never were.

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