“Immune Response” can easily be defined as the immune system attacking microorganisms that cause disease in our bodies.
As we age, they body is less & less able to assimilate the nutrients required for optimal health. To compensate for this, we need diets high in fiber, which means we need to fill our plates with fruits and vegetables. Sometimes this is not enough and we require additional supplements, this is where antioxidants play a role.
Antioxidants prevent cell oxidation and lower the occurrence of disease, aging and cancer. It is a fact that periodontal disease is more prevalent in 60 year olds, than 20 year olds. This is true, even though the older patients are more dental savvy and brush better. The prevalence of this disease in older patients is most likely due to the body’s diminished ability to fight off bacteria and chemicals.
A study from Loma Linda University showed that a nutritional supplement alone, without any other dental treatment, significantly combatted the effects of periodontal disease (3). Additionally, patients who used supplements had less bleeding and smaller pocketing. This study looked at the effects of four nutritional supplements: grapeseed extract, COQ10, folic acid and echineachea.
Here were some of the documented effects (1,2) that these supplements had on periodontal disease:
Grape seed extract contains PRO-ANTHO-CY-AN-I-Din- and is a powerful antioxidant with 20-50 times the potency of Vitamin C & E. Naturopaths have been using it for years to help treat arthritis, skin problems and other inflammatory conditions.
For periodontal disease in particular, it prevents the bacteria from colonizing. This is an important fact because it’s the colonization of bacteria that has made us look at plaque now as a BIOFILM, which also helps give it credence and its link to many systemic diseases. Biofilms are aggravated colonies of bacteria in their purist form.
Biofilms are highly resistant to antibiotic treatment and are responsible for Otitis Media in kids, Bacterial Endocarditis, Legionnaires Disease and Cystic Fibrosis. They are also responsible for infections that hospital patients can get from catheters, implants etc.
COQ10 improves healing. It’s vital to the production of cellular energy and immune system function. It has been used in medicine with relation to Congestive Heart Failure, Parkinson’s and Cancer. A woman naturally will make 50 percent more during pregnancy to aid in development of the placenta. One significant piece of information is that statins (like Lipitor) can lower COQ10 levels, so it is important to take supplements to keep COQ10 levels even.
ECHINAECHEA inhibits enzymes that break down tissue.
FOLIC ACID ensures development of normal gum tissue. It binds to endotoxins (by-products of bacteria) and renders them neutral. It can prevent periodontal disease and it can help in healing if taken during periodontal treatment, and it can even prevent re-occurrence if taken after periodontal treatment.
All these supplements must still be taken with a diet high in fruits and vegetables to insure proper immune function. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to your patients so that they can understand the importance of supplements?
There are many companies that support the need for change toward treatment of total health of the patient. One such company is Pharmaden, which deals with “Neutraceuticals” (vitamins and supplements to improve dental as well as physical health). Other companies like Oragenics and Xlear exist as well. These companies can help healthcare professionals educate and treat their patients about improving their overall health.
The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH) is at the forefront of bridging the gap between medicine and dentistry to help educate and improve the lives of patients. AAOSH is about helping healthcare professionals better understand the grounds of science happening around them, as well as how to integrate it into their practices for better patient care.
Through their Annual Scientific Sessions, AAOSH brings together companies like Pharmaden, Xlear and Oragenics that help dental and medical professionals learn new technologies and clinical research to treat patient’s total health. It is only through more knowledge and advanced skills that we can empower each other and ultimately our patients. We could just go with the status quo and not change a thing, but why would we, when medical costs are soaring, and diabetes, periodontal disease and other inflammatory disease are rampant, yet easily curable? It only takes a click to begin, so do it…www.aaosh.org.
About the Author
Bobbie DelSasso, RDH, BS graduated from Marquette University College of Dentistry, Dental Hygiene Department in 1979. She was a coordinator for a Seattle Study Club event planning for fifteen years, and is a practicing hygienist for the director of that study club for 25 years. Bobbie is the Executive Director with AAOSH, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Neiva RF, Steigenga J, Al-Shammari K, Wang H-L. Effects of specific nutrients on periodontal disease onset, progression, and treatment. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2003; 30:579-588.
2. Brock GR, Butterworth CJ, Matthews JB, Chapple ILC. Local and systemic total antioxidant capacity in periodontitis and health. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2004; 31:515-521.
3. Harpenau L, Cheema A, Zingale J, Chambers D, Lundergan W. Effects of nutritional supplementation on periodontal parameters and c-reactive protein. Abstract submitted for publication. University of the Pacific.