We've all heard that health begins in the colon. Equally important but often forgotten is our dental health. It is easy to forget just how important dental health in our overall health. Dental infections can lead to systemic health problems and add significantly to our total body burden. Addressing dental infections can lower our total load of infection and allow our body to focus its often limited resources more fully on our healing.
For several months, a good friend of mine had suggested that I see a local dentist that looks at dental infections under a microscope and also does DNA-based PCR testing to identify specific infections that may be adding to our total body burden. Though two other dentists had essentially given me a clean bill of dental health, Dr. Greg Sawyer, DDS of Los Gatos Dental Group did find some issues that we need to address.
I had several "pockets" that were in the 4-5mm range which suggests early gum disease. This is often caused by a bacterial infection. The infection is often an oral spirochete called Treponema denticola. The whole idea of oral spirochetes is discussed in the recent book Stealth Killers by William Nordquist, DDS. These spirochetes are apparently quite common and are not the same spirochetes as seen in Lyme disease. Interestingly enough, in those dentists that look for these infections, they recognize that the goal of treatment is to force the spirochetes into a cyst form so that they cause no further damage but that eradication is not currently possible. Why is it that a dentist has this perspective, but most medical doctors do not?
My teeth were in overall very good shape, but some bleeding of the gums suggested that we need to work a bit more on gum health. I didn't realize that bleeding gums when you floss allow dental bacterial direct access to the bloodstream and allow these infections to become systemic. Next, we will do a couple of deep cleanings to remove as much of the beginnings of periodontal disease as possible. Fortunately, the dentist felt that what he observed as the onset of periodontal disease was likely fully reversible.
My dental slide showed far less active infection than Dr. Sawyer often sees. We did see two spirochetes on the slide. Fortunately, this is a low number relative to other people he has seen, but it is still an issue that we would want to address. Whether these were Treponema, Borrelia. or some other spirochete we don't know at this point, but none of them are good things. We may get some additional information from the PCR testing when those results come back.
I was most impressed with the technological advances that Dr. Sawyer is using in his dental practice. Being a bit of a techno-nerd myself, I am always excited about the use of technology in health care. In my evaluation, he used several devices including advanced digital cameras, a microscope (see photo), and a device that scores each tooth and provides some indication as to whether or not the tooth is in a state of decay or if it is healthy.
For those of us with chronic Lyme disease, finding a good dentist and improving our dental health may yield some very positive benefits. Thanks to my friend that persisted until I gave in and went to see Dr. Sawyer. I was very impressed with his practice. Now the journey begins to improve the issues that he identified. Fortunately, I'm hopeful that this journey won't be nearly as long as the journey of chronic Lyme disease.