Periodontal Disease: Indicator of Ecological Imbalance

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Periodontal Disease: Indicator of Ecological Imbalance

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by John August Rau, D.D.S., M.A.

Seattle, Washington

Periodontal Disease: Loss of gum/bone integrity as an external body barrier in its attachment to teeth, representing an aberration of form leading to local dysfunction that is conducive to bacterial invasion or proliferation.

During the 1800's, the ongoing scientific debate between Antwein Beauchamp and Louis Pasteur was: "all disease comes from within the body" versus "all disease invades the body from the outside." But then Claude Bernard proclaimed that disease was the result of an internal environment fertile and conducive to proliferation of organisms (and subsequent biochemical consequences) from the outside.

In the 1950's Louise Claude Vincent, a French hydrologist and physicist, and Dr. Franz Morrell developed modern assessment parameters and identified patterns of homeostatic competence. They coined the phrase "biological terrain."

Biological terrain is a multi-factor complexity and certainly not all the answers are in. The complexity involves hundreds of thousands of simultaneous chemical reactions where relative efficiencies of enzyme function can result in functional shifts of homeostasis, thereby "predisposing" the "terrain" to invasion from without.

Current professional and academic views tend to place the blame for periodontal disease on bacteria as a causative factor, and therapy tends to be focused on procedures to promote the patients' ability to eliminate bacterial presence. However, of four main causative factors, only one is primarily due to micro-organisms and that micro-organism proliferation is a secondary phenomena.

The four etiologic factors of periodontal disease:

Highly invasive micro-organisms. This is actually rare and most often attributed to parasites and protozoa; however, it may be encountered most likely from foreign travel. Periodontal disease is not thought to be contagious: you don't get it from kissing baby bottoms!
Malnutrition by under-nourishment. Again, fairly rare, especially by most health-oriented folks reading this newspaper (most contemporary nutrition problems are ones of excess and imbalance). The exception is malnutrition by malabsorption syndromes and possibly induced imbalance from bizarre diets or overzealous vitamin/mineral supplementation. Deficiency states can result in mobilization of bone mineral stores in order to maintain blood levels. Remember, sailors of old cured themselves of scurvy, not with megadoses of ascorbic acid, but by eating limes.
Endocrine imbalance and nutritionally induced "conditional" hyperparathyroidism, related to, and a possible early indicator of, osteoporosis. Again, with mobilization of mineral bone stores there manifests a diffuse horizontal bone loss over many teeth (as opposed to localized vertical bone/tooth defects).
Sequelae of an exaggerated inflammatory response with localized impairment of micro-circulation; really, an auto-immune phenomena where most of the tissue damage is from the body's own over-responding defense. This is the most common and manifests as localized vertical bone to tooth defects.
Currently, the hot new item in treatment of periodontal disease is pocket implantable antibiotic fibres as well as numerous antimicrobial irrigation devices, with or without "guided tissue regeneration." And while impressive, short-term resolutions are the norm. Recurrence of infection is the usual course because the "host" response factors are rarely addressed. Sometimes microscope observation or high tech DNA analysis is done attempting to find the bug (there seems to appear to be a new bug every week), which tend to be expensive, labor intensive, and technique-sensitive procedures.

Beauchamp was an early pioneer promoter of the idea of micro-organism pleomorphism, in which the same bug manifests in different form depending on the growing media, i.e., the soil or "the terrain."

While periodontal problems are local in nature, the cellular biology is systemic in nature. Because not all the facts are in and it's a complex issue, it is easier to place the blame and the cause on the patient, who is never brushing or flossing adequately. The truth is there are individuals who never brash or floss and they do not get periodontal disease. And, "the bugs are everywhere," anyway.

Early pioneers in anthropology ascribed degeneration to deviation from the "Laws of Nature" by consumption of "foods of modern commerce" (Weston Price, Royal Lee, Wm. Jarvis). Since then, modern science continues to define the effects of foods of modern commerce. Insulin response to excess carbohydrate is now shown to be responsible for promotion of adverse prostaglandin synthesis that promotes an excess inflammatory condition. In the scale of evolutionary time, industrialized agri-business dictating food selection and availability is only a few hundred years old. Shifts in consumption patterns in such a short time is said to be not consistent with gene change through evolutionary selection. Such seemingly slight nutritional imbalances that are inconsistent with inherited gene-enzyme optimum function could pre-dispose toward an adverse terrain.

Chronic inflammatory pre-dispositions can lead to impaired peripheral blood flow dynamics and stasis in the micro-circulation. Cigarette nicotine has a profound effect on the micro-circulation as well as stress induced adrenaline and/or the rise in cortisol promoting vasoconstriction. Such vasoconstriction reduces the nutritional status at the local site, especially in rapid turnover cells that are prevalent throughout the digestive tract.

Awareness leads to an educated patient based on rational, reasonable foundations. This leads to a social-political activism by the choices one makes, and ultimately leads to a paradigm shift. Whole industries of huge economic scale are tied to old paradigms and are slow and resistant to change.

References:
1. Clarke N, Carey S: Etiology of Chronic Periodontal Disease: An Alternative Perspective, J.A.D.A., 110:5, pp. 689-691, 1985.

2. Eaton B, Shostak M, Komer M: The Paleolithic Prescription, Harper & Row, N.Y., 1988.

3. Greenstein G: Clinical Significance of Bacterial Resistance to Tetracycline in the Treatment of Periodontal Disease, J. Perio, 66:11, pp. 928-930, 1995.

4. Price W: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price-Pottenger Foundation, La Mesa, CA, 1945.

5. Sears B: Essential Fatty Acids and Dietary Endocrinology: A Hypothesis for Cardiovascular Treatment, J. Adv. Med., 6:4, pp. 211-224, 1993.

6. Walcher D, Kretchmer N: Food, Nutrition and Evolution: Food As An Environmental Factor in the Genesis of Human Variability, Masson Publ, N.Y., 1981.

The Holistic Health Network.

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By John A. Rau

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