Monday, March 17, 2014
Some may have heard or see the term "oil pulling" which some swear to its positive effects. Not sure what it is? Let's find out...
WHAT IS OIL PULLING?
Oil pulling has actually been used as an traditional old style remedy in India, originating from Ayurvedic medicine.
It involves swishing your mouth with oil anywhere for 5 to 15 to 25 minutes so it coats your teeth and gums with the oil. The oil is then spit out from the mouth. That's it.
So which oil can be used? The most common oil used is coconut oil; other oils used to a lesser extent include sunflower oil, sesame oil, corn oil, rice bran oil, and soybean oil.
HOW DOES OIL PULLING WORK ON THE TEETH AND GUMS?
The concept is simple and as follows: There exists in everyone's mouth a colony of microbial bacteria that are beneficial and bacterial that are harmful. The mouth has an extremely favorable environment for bacteria: it is constantly warm due to body heat, moist with saliva, has a narrow neutral pH of ~7.0, and has a constant source of nutrients from food and liquid ingestion.
Some of the beneficial bacteria include: Streptococcus sanguinis, Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces naeslundii, Neisseria subflava, and Veillonella dispar. Some negative bacteria include: Streptococcus mutans, Tannerella forsythia, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Fusobacterium nucleatum.
The body's goal is to keep the "good" bacteria and the "bad" bacteria in check and in balance. If such microbial are dominated by the negative bacteria, the result in one's oral health and dentition may include dental decay (cavities), gingivitis, and periodontal disease (gum disease with bone loss). Bacteria causes such negative oral health effects by creating a visible biofilm, or a thin layer of plaque on the teeth.
The theory with oil pulling is that the oil disrupts the binding of bacteria to food particles, and that the oil traps and kills the bacteria.
WHAT IS THE COMPONENT IN THE OIL THAT IS EFFECTIVE AGAINST BACTERIA?
Coconut oil appears the most effective oil in oil pulling. Coconut oil contains Lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. Lauric acid is rarely found in nature; aside from coconut oil, which contains the highest concentration of Lauric acid available, human breast milk also contains Lauric acid.
The body converts Lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride compound that has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. The monolaurin disrupts the mechanical formation of the gram negative bacteria's lipid membranes, hence destroying the bacteria. The monolaurin is also high effective against fungus (Giardia Lamblia) and lipid coated virus (ie. HIV, herpes).
Sesame oil and sunflower oils contain high concentrations of Oleic acid and Linoleic acid and are regarded as less desired than coconut oil. Sesame and sunflower oils are lesser used oils as such acids are respectively omega-6 fatty acids (high concentrations can disrupt the healthy effects of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts) and omeg-9 fatty acids (a nonessential acid the body can manufacture).
OIL PULLING STUDIES AND EFFECTS ON ORAL HEALTH
Studies of oil pulling remain unfortunately not widespread. I was able to find a few published studies of oil pulling below.
A 2008 oil pulling study of S. Mutans count in plaque and saliva demonstrated the benefits of coconut oil on reducing the level of S. Mutans in the mouth, and has been shown to approach that of chlorohexidine, though not as effective as the chlorohexidine.
A 2010 study of oil pullling on microorganisms showed similar results of reduced bacteria count.
Oil pulling originally started in India many years ago, but its use is currently not commonplace in the United States. Though it has started to gain traction and popularity due to recent media events, it is the humble opinion of this author that oil pulling holds promise within its regard to positive antimicrobial oral health effects with respect to the teeth, gingiva, and periodontal bone structures, and that oil pulling has a sound scientific basis. More and larger prospective epidemiological studies are needed and recommended before the author can deem oil pulling a definitive practical recommendation to practice as one's daily oral hygiene habits .
From your gentle family dentist in Bellevue,
Dr. Peter Chien
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
|Tooth with Root Canal Treatment|
Cancer, a disease the medical, research, and practicing physician community have been battling since the dawn of the late 20th and early 21st century. Cancer is a condition that has eluded the much needed cure; its etiology and causes are many and likely multi-factorial, some unknown, some known.
Some recent articles circulating on the internet have stated that a prevalent dental procedure is the cause of terminal cancer: root canals. The information in the article claims that "97% of Terminal Cancer Patients Have Had This Dental Procedure" and therein it claims that the root canal is the cause of said disease. The article then claims that the bacteria in the root canal tooth is the causal factor for cancer (among other regenerative diseases).
This article claims that the cure of cancer is as simple as extracting root canal teeth, which allows one's immune to rebuild.
WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL?
First let's go over briefly what is involved in the root canal procedure. During endodontic treatment the nerve of a tooth is removed out of necessity (ie. tooth infection, deep decay/cavity that has intruded the pulp, necrotic pulp, severely fractured tooth and/or restoration, failing restoration, traumatized pulp/ligament around the root). The nerve and pulp in the root is mechanically cleaned out with a stainless steel instrument, filled with out a material called gutta percha, and which is then combined with a material called a sealer.
ARE THE MATERIALS USED SAFE?
The instruments used during a root canal procedure to remove the nerve are a stainless steel surgical grade quality. It's the same material constructed in kitchen utensils people use everyday during meals. It's the same material used in cooking knives and during surgery and most other routine physical examinations and medical/dental treatment.
The gutta percha used to obturate the canal (ie. fill the canal of the teeth) is made from a natural latex produced from the sap of a tree. Gutta-percha is malleable, biologically inert, and biologically compatible.
Sealers are used to fill spaces within the root that the gutta-percha is not physcically able to fill. Different types of sealers include zinc oxide-eugenol, resins, glass-ionomer, and silicon based materials. Such materials have shown to be biologically compatible, and the vast majority of the population suffer no side effects from its presence or touch.
DO THE BACTERIA MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE CAUSE CANCER?
No. A major flaw of the article is its premise the research dentists found within the root canal teeth, the following bacteria:
The dentists claim that the bacteria were found within root canal teeth, and it can affect one's heart, kidneys, brain, and sinus. While this may be true, one has to realize that the above bacteria is found EVERYWHERE. They have been shown to be common and present among immunologically compromised patients. Such said bacteria are NOT exclusive to teeth with root canal treatment, and are present on the body due to the body's inability to ward of infections. The bacteria are not present because of root canal treatment, and such claims from the article has no causative basis.
ARTICLE CLAIMS "DEAD BODY PART CAN LAUNCH AN ATTACK BY THE BODY"
False. Another claim the article asserts is that leaving a dead part of the body within the body is ill-advised. The article compares a gangrened finger or toe, or an aborted fetus in-utero due to a dead baby, which results in a miscarriage. Granted yes, a gangrened finger or toe is surgically removed because if not removed in a timely manner, the bacteria within the necrotic finger/toe can travel and affect its neighboring healthy tissues.
And yes, the body may spontaneously removed the dead baby in-utero from the uterus, resulting in a natural miscarriage. However one has to realize the dead fetus is expelled from the body naturally because the body recognizes the fetus as an organically necrotic material, and does not want to expend its nutrients and blood supply on necrosed tissue.
In comparison, a "dead tooth" is composed of inorganic materials. Much like hair, fingernails, and eyelashes, the body recognizes such body parts as inorganic, including the root canal tooth. Comparing a "dead" tooth to gangrened finger/toe or a fetus is not a viable comparison. If such claim is true, then we can also state that one's body hair, head hair, or toe nails are a cause of cancer, and that our natural hairs and nails should be removed as such.
ARTICLE CLAIMS ROOT CANALS LEAD TO BONE, HEART, KIDNEY, AND BRAIN DISEASE
False. The article further claims that he transplated root canal teeth fragments into rabbits, and found that such transposition caused a heart attack within a few weeks in 100% of the rabbits. The Arthur further claims such teeth fragments caused bone, kidney, and neurological damage in 80% of the rabbits.
Such above claims have again no causative factors and have no relevant cause in cardiovascular disease in rabbits. Rabbits as an overall population suffer from unfortunate sudden death, and is linked to inherent heart failure and heart disease. The article's assertion that root canal fragments cause heart disease in rabbits is no more true than claiming that drinking water causes heart disease, as there is no causation.
Additional claims of bone, hepatic, and neurological damage caused by root canal fragments has also no basis. Rabbits in general also suffer from inherent bone, kidney, and neurological issues as common causes of death, and again, has no causation with respect to root canal treated teeth.
ARTICLE FINALLY ALLEGES ONE TO AVOID ROOT CANAL
Depends, but one should NOT avoid a root canal for the fear of it being carcinogenic and cancer causing. A root canal is a safe and biologically compatible dental procedure. Though there are inherent risks of any dental or medical procedure, and no biological results can be guaranteed, its overall efficacy is time and results proven, and its benefits far outweighs its risks.
It is the humble opinion of this author that root canals have no causative biological factors in the role of cancer. such articles circulating on the web is an attempt at sensationalism and are astray from the sound scientific medical and dental community, and are merely attempting to instill ignorance and fear on the overall general population. Again, the claims such articles are no more relevant to stating that drinking water causes stroke and heart disease, or that owning a parrot causes dementia.
If you have ANY questions regarding root canal treatment, be sure to consult your family dentist or endondontist.
Warm Regards from your family Bellevue dentist,
Dr. Peter Chien