The Role of Neutraceuticals in Oral & Overall Health
“Immune Response” might easily be defined as the immune system attacking microorganisms that cause disease in our bodies. As we age, they body is less and less able to assimilate the nutrients required for optimal health, so we need diets high in fruit, fiber, vegetables and the right supplements—and this is where antioxidants play a role. Antioxidants prevent cell oxidation and lower the occurrence of disease, aging, and cancer. It is a fact that periodontal disease is more prevalent in 60 year olds than 20 year olds (even though they are more dental savvy and brush better), and it’s likely due to the body’s inability to fight off bacteria and chemicals as easily.
Loma Linda University researchers3 ran a study a few years ago showing that a nutritional supplement alone without any other dental treatment significantly combated the effects of periodontal disease, with less bleeding and smaller pocketing present. The nutritional supplements used in the study were grapeseed extract, CoQ10, folic acid, and echineachea.
Here were some of the documented effects1,2 that these supplements had on periodontal disease:
Grape seed extract—Contains procyanidin and is a powerful antioxidant with 20-50 times the potency of Vitamin C and E. Naturopaths have been using it for years to help treat arthritis, skin problems, and other inflammatory conditions. For periodontal disease in particular, it prevents the bacteria from colonizing. This is an important fact because it’s the colonization of bacteria that has made us look at plaque now as a biofilm, which also helps give it credence and its link to many systemic diseases. Biofilms are aggravated colonies of bacteria in their purist form. Biofilms are highly resistant to antibiotic treatment and are responsible for otitis media in kids, bacterial endocarditis, Legionnaires’ disease and cystic fibrosis. They are also responsible for infections that hospital patients can get from catheters, implants, etc.
CoQ10—Improves healing. It is vital to the production of cellular energy and immune system function and has been used in medicine with relation to congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. A woman naturally will make 50% more during pregnancy to aid in development of the placenta. One of the significant things about statins and CoQ10 is that statins (like Lipitor) can lower CoQ10 levels, so it is important to take supplements to keep CoQ10 levels even.
ECHINAECHEA—Inhibits enzymes that break down tissue.
FOLIC ACID—Ensures development of normal gum tissue. It binds to endotoxins (by-products of bacteria) and renders them neutral. It can prevent periodontal disease and can help in healing if taken during periodontal treatment. It can even prevent recurrence if taken after periodontal treatment.
All these supplements must still be taken with a diet high in fruits and vegetables to ensure proper immune function, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to your patients about this and help them understand the links and how important supplements are as we age?
There are many companies and professional organizations which support the need for change toward treatment of total health of the patient. The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health is at the forefront of bridging the gap between medicine and dentistry to help educate and improve the lives of patients.
AAOSH is about helping medicine and dentistry better understand the groundswell of science as well as how to integrate it into practices for better patient care. Through the AAOSH Annual Scientific Sessions, AAOSH brings together many industry experts, authors, researchers, companies, and related parties that help dental and medical professionals learn new technologies and clinical research to treat patients’ total health.
It is only through more knowledge and advanced skills that we can empower each other and ultimately our patients. We could just go with the status quo and not change a thing, but why would we—when medical costs are soaring, and diabetes, periodontal disease, and other inflammatory disease are rampant, yet easily curable? It only takes a click to begin!
- Neiva RF, Steigenga J, Al-Shammari K, Wang H-L. Effects of specific nutrients on periodontal disease onset, progression, and treatment. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2003; 30:579-588.
- Brock GR, Butterworth CJ, Matthews JB, Chapple ILC. Local and systemic total antioxidant capacity in periodontitis and health. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2004; 31:515-521.
- Harpenau L, Cheema A, Zingale J, Chambers D, Lundergan W. Effects of nutritional supplementation on periodontal parameters and c-reactive protein. Abstract submitted for publication. University of the Pacific.