written by Jimmy Kilimitzoglou, DDS of e.s.i. Healthy Dentistry
Miners brought canaries into the coal mine because it had an accurate yet, sometimes sad way of predicting disaster. The mouth has a similar ability to predict a person’s overall wellbeing, not only to detect a preventable disaster early, but as the beginning of the digestive process, it can help us fine tune things to provide optimal function. From inflammation, biome and acidity level, to bone integrity, immune function, and even brain health, your mouth is the first place to look for cause- focused healing and structures for life at its very peak level of expression.
“Teeth are like trees, gums don’t lie” a quote from my mentor and friend, Dr. Fred Ferguson. I’m sure you’ve heard about how the rings within a tree’s core represent its years of life. Sometimes you will see a bump, a gash, a scar, a hollow or a bare area on it. These things can tell us if the tree was attacked by animals, insects, woodpeckers or if someone was using it as a home. They may tell us a story about how sick the tree was and how it got better. Well, teeth can tell us a person’s story just like trees do. Teeth may have dark spots, white spots, stripes, bands or internal stains. A dental professional may look at these things and play detective. Did you have a high fever for a week when you were three years old? Did you take doxycycline as a child? Did your family use well water when you were little? By knowing exactly when teeth develop we can go back in time and figure out what these tooth scars tell us.
When a child has a high fever, the body prioritizes all of its energy and focuses on the task at hand. All secondary things like permanent tooth development, for example, screeches to a halt. That results in a white horizontal line or band on a molar or premolar. Similarly, if a child takes doxycycline, it gets incorporated in hard structures like bone and teeth, and permanently stains them intrinsically. Depending on where we grow up, our water supply may have certain minerals in high concentration. Oftentimes well water will have high levels of fluoride, calcium or magnesium and these can affect tooth development, rendering irregularities in shape and color of certain teeth and certain parts of teeth.
What about diets rich in acid? The acid causes a phenomenon called erosion. This creates an even wearing away of tooth structure wherever the “chemical” touches the tooth.
Gums are supposed to be pink and stippled. When there is inflammation, they are puffy, red and bleed easily. This inflammation goes all over the body. Gingivitis and periodontitis are gum diseases linked to mini strokes, coronary heart disease, lung infections in the elderly, premature and low birth weight babies. It is also linked to poor blood sugar control in diabetics.
Today we can conduct some simple salivary analysis tests, periodontal exams and use advanced oral diagnostics like lasers, enhanced oral cancer detection, advanced intra oral cameras, transillumination cameras as well as biome testing to identify the true cause of someone’s disease. Early detection is too late! If we see markers that predispose someone to a disease, making them high risk, we can prevent the disease from appearing in the first place.