Periodontics and Nutrition
The Nutrition Connection – Supporting the body’s defense system By Marcus Gitterle, MD
A famous doctor once told me that “Medicines, such as antibiotics don’t cure you; They just reduce the level of harmful bacteria to the point where your own immune system can take over”.
The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade our systems and cause disease. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. As we age, the body is less able to assimilate the nutrients required to maintain an optimal immune system and it is more necessary to make sure that our diet contains fruits and vegetables and that we take the right supplements. We have heard much about anti-oxidants that prevent cell oxidation and lower the occurrence of disease, aging and even cancer. They are important supporters of the immune system.
As we have noted, periodontal disease is much more common among 60 year olds than 20 year olds, even though 60 year olds are more dental savvy and probably brush better. The difference is likely in the body’s ability to fight off the attacks of bacteria and chemicals.
Recent research at Loma Linda University showed that a nutritional supplement alone (Pharmaden), without any other dental treatment, was able to significantly combat the effects of periodontal disease, lowering bleeding and pocket depths (19).
The key ingredients in the supplement were Grapeseed Extract, CoQ10 (Ubiquanone), Echinacea and Folic Acid. It is valuable to examine these elements because several are not normally found in your daily multi-vitamin.
One of the mysteries of medical research was why the French and Italians, who drank red wine were so healthy even though they had a pasta heavy or fat laden diet. We later found that it was not from the alcohol, but because of compounds found in red grapes called proanthocyanidins.
Grapeseed Extract (also called Venis Vinifera) contains this nutrient and is a powerful antioxidant with 20 to 50 times the power of Vitamin C or Vitamin E. Grapeseed Extract is a favorite for Naturopaths, the branch of healthcare that focuses on treatment using natural products rather than drugs. GSE has been found by these doctors to be a natural anti-histamine thereby counteracting allergies without drowsiness, a natural anti-inflammatory useful against arthritis and CRP, and beneficial for skin problems. Also, it improves the circulatory system.
In its particular application to periodontal treatment, Grape Seed Extract prevents bacteria from colonizing in the gum tissues and on the teeth and prevents the aggression of destructive enzymes. The anti-oxidant action also destroys free- radicals that attack the gum tissue.
Echinacea has been used as a home remedy for colds and flu. For treatment of periodontal disease it inhibits enzymes that break down tissue.
CoQ10 – (Ubiquanone)
CoQ10 improves the healing response. It is vital to all natural processes including the production of cellular energy, immune system function, heart function and blood pressure. It is used in medicine for treatment of congestive heart failure, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and cancer treatment through tumor suppression. During pregnancy a woman makes 50% more CoQ10 than normal, aiding the development of the placenta. Special warning for those on statin drugs: statin drugs lower the body’s production of CoQ10 – It is important to supplement with CoQ10 if you are on statin drugs.
Folic Acid ensures normal development of gum tissue. It binds to endotoxins, the by-products that are generated from bacteria and renders them neutral. Taking adequate quantities of these supplements can prevent you from getting periodontal disease in the first place, if taken during treatment will aid healing, and if continued after treatment will prevent recurrence of the disease.
Always remember a good healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables (8 servings a day) plus daily exercise are vital for healthy immune system function.