We reached out to our favourite holistic dentist (and health advocate, author, podcaster), Dr Ron Ehrlich, to ask a few Q.s around dental health, chronic disease, digestion and mouth ulcers.
BD: What is the link between gum disease and chronic disease?
RE: Gum disease, inflamed gums that bleed on flossing or brushing affect over 90% of the population, and is the most common source of chronic inflammation in the body. The common feature of all chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and more, is chronic inflammation.
BD: What does dental health have to do with digestion?
RE: The mouth is also the gateway to the digestive tract. Put simply, its where digestion starts, so if you are not chewing your food as effectively as you should the rest of the digestive system will struggle.
BD: I certainly encourage all my patients to chew their food up to 30 times, sit to eat and be in a “rest and digest” state to ensure optimal digestion. The physical chew action and being relaxed while eating is so critical to ensure digestive enzymes are secreted. When we are stressed and rushing we don’t secrete the enzymes we need for adequate break down of foods and absorption of nutrients.
BD: What about mouth ulcers? Are they a sign there is an issue?
RE: Mouth ulcers can be an indication of nutritional deficiencies immune problems you might be sick rundown stressed but an ulcer that doesn't heal for a long, long time can actually be a sign of oral cancer.
BD: New patients commonly complain of mouth ulcers, and you’re right, nutritional deficiencies are a big cause. Commonly B vitamins, as they are needed to replicate all rapidly dividing cells, like the oral mucosa. I do also take the generally appearance for the tongue and inside of cheeks as in indicator of what the rest of the digestive tract might look like. Other nutritional deficiencies I find with mouth ulcers are zinc and vitamin A. Both are needed to ensure the integrity of the oral and gastrointestinal lining. Ultimately, it’s a Western Style Diet that is depleting and not supplying adequate nutrients for to body to function optimally.
RE: If you are not taking oral health seriously, you should. Your body already does.
BD: Thank you so much Dr Ron for all your insights and knowledge.