It starts in the mouth

Gail emailed me this interesting observation from her perspective as a dental hygienist:

I have worked as a dental hygienist for over forty years. For a long time, I have been saying that something is different with people’s oral health. When I began working as a dental hygienist back in the early seventies, we did not wear gloves and there was very little bleeding during a prophylaxis. If my patients had bleeding gums back in the seventies like they do now, I never would have put my fingers into their mouth.

Today, it is common to see five year old patients with heavy plaque and bleeding. When I listened to your talk on Red Ice Creations, something that you said caught my attention. You stated that the amylopectin-A from the modern wheat is highly digested by the enzyme amylase in the mouth into sugar much quicker than the ancient wheat.

Could this be the missing piece to the puzzle with our modern epidemic of periodontal disease? In the past year, I saw three patients who did not have plaque, calculus or bleeding. This is very unusual to see in the modern dental office. One was a seventeen year old boy, the other two were women in their forties and fifties. When I questioned all three of them, they told me that they were off of gluten products which means that they were not eating wheat. My question to you is: Has there been any dental research concerning the effects of the modern wheat on oral health? I used to blame the increase of bleeding gums on the high fructose corn syrup. I am now thinking that the modern wheat is also the culprit.

I have been telling many of my patients about your book. I find it hard to not talk about this subject when a patient mentions how they want to lose weight and cannot do it with conventional dieting.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

While there is, to my knowledge, no formal research connecting consumption of modern wheat with dental and gingival disease/decay, I am hearing this more and more often. People say, “My dentist says my teeth didn’t really need cleaning and that they looked the best they have in years.”

As Gail points out, the amylopectin A unique to wheat, different than, say, the amylopectin C from beans that is inefficiently digested (resulting in intestinal gas from bacterial digestion of the undigested amylopectin), is rapidly converted to glucose in the mouth by the salivary enzyme, amylase, even before you swallow. So a breakfast of shredded wheat cereal, mid-morning snack of low-fat pretzels, a lunch of low-fat turkey breast on two slices of whole wheat bread, and a dinner of whole wheat pasta ensures a mouth full of glucose many times a day, a situation that makes oral bacteria throw a party, as they love the glucose.

As is happening in the world of wheatlessness, more and more of the common (as well as uncommon) ailments that plague us modern humans are proving to be nothing more than . . . forms of intolerance to wheat.

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74 Responses to It starts in the mouth

  1. Dave says:

    I had terrible depression, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, and poor quality sleep when I was eating wheat…those were my main symptoms along with occasional indigestion. My gums were always in good health.

    But what I noticed after switching to a low carb, gluten-free diet is that my bruxism (teeth grinding) abated almost completely. I no longer wake up with aching teeth and jaws from clenching all night. I have no idea why that change occurred, but it’s a pleasant side effect that I’m happy to live with.

  2. DM says:

    The lack of bleeding in my gums was the first thing I noticed after going wheat free. I had always eaten a wide variety of fruits and vegetables so I figured that lack of Vitamin C was not the cause. I attributed the bleeding to just some vague inflamation. Yes, inflamation caused by wheat. I’m glad to see more anecdotal evidence build up on this cause of many of the health problems suffered today.

  3. Brenda says:

    I chipped my back molar and had to go to the dentist, have not been to one for years. He filled in the broken bit, and had a look at my other teeth and told me that they were all going fine. I have been gluten free for about 10yrs as I worked out I was gluten intorlerant. And grain free since November. I brush my teeth with coocnut oil and baking soda that I make up myself. So this way of eating helps all of the body which is terrific.

    • Neicee says:

      Brenda, I’ve not made a past with the coconut oil but I do use it after brushing to leave a satiny finish on the teeth. If you happen to think of it, could you share your recipe for the paste? I still get huge bags of samples of paste from my dentist and they all have flouride, which I’m getting more concerned with.

  4. Ellen says:

    This is something I’ve noticed too. Since changing my diet, I wondered where I would notice improvements besides weight loss. My last dental check, I had no cavities (unusual) and the dentist said my gum tissues looked great and to keep doing whatever I was doing. I got to thinking, and I don’t think a dentist has ever said that about my gums. Coincindence? Don’t think so! I only wish I had discovered this way of eating when I was 20 instead of 45, I would have saved myself a lot of fillings and money!

  5. Cece4184 says:

    I was wondering about this very thing, but in my case, there didn’t seem to be much change at my last cleaning in July (wheat-free since Oct. ’11). However, I was still eating some GF foods (I was seriously addicted), so I’ll be interested to see if there is any change when I go again this month (have had quarterly cleanings since 2005, deep pockets, etc.). I did notice that one sensitive tooth is no longer sensitive. I inherited tendency to bad teeth and gums (both parents lost most of theirs in their 30s), have spent thousands on crowns, bridges, implants, etc. I’m hoping I’ll see some improvement this time. Thanks again, Dr. Davis, for everything!!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yeah, I would REALLY lose the gluten-free foods made with dental cavity-causing ingredients!

      Yes, let us know what you learn at the next visit.

  6. Robin says:

    This is interesting. I’ve been wheat-free since February and had a (6-monthly) hygienist appointment last month. She said my teeth were the best she’d seen since I’ve been going to her and that the gums were really healthy. I’ve always told her that I don’t use toothpaste but she said we’d have to agree to differ on that because she’s a big fan of toothpaste. I put it down to using tooth soap which is saponified coconut but I’m now believing it was being wheat-free or maybe even a combination. We’ve also increased our saturated fat intake and have about 3T of coconut oil per day. Next to no sugar. I actually like it in my coffee – the coconut oil! Anyway, by the time I go for my appointments, I always have a bit of plaque build-up, no matter how well I try to keep my teeth clean. This time, she told me not to come for another 9mths or a year – can’t remember now (hah, so much for brain fog). I haven’t had any dental work done for a while either so it’s all good.
    Love this site!

  7. JIllOz says:

    While I have some tooth troubles, one in particular resulting from an incompetent dentist,
    i have at least, by going wheat-free, saved myself another root canal. :)

    I hope the sensitivity improves eventually.

    • Thomas says:

      Even ONE root canal can lead to BIG problems if it’s not checked regularly for abscesses with the 3D Cat Scan low power Xray, Get the Rooted DVD, http://www.rooted.tv and use Thieves and Wintergreen Oils from Young Living, they work well when packed with gauze next to the rooted tooth! :O, see :J

    • Rebecca says:

      I have been using sensodyne tooth paste since my teens and six months ago started using regular tooth paste. Only been eating no gluten free food and low carb for three weeks , I haven’t had wheat in my diet intentional for around ten. The when I switched tooth paste I had constant aching in my teeth and my gums have not been very happy since I had my daughter two years ago. Last week I noticed the ach in my teeth had disappeared, I can floss with out bleeding at night. I think the sensitivity will disappear for you too just keep on doing what your doing.

  8. hitfan says:

    I recently went to the dentist for my six month scheduled cleanup. I also am more or less wheat-free since February.

    My dental hygienist also remarked and was impressed by how unusually healthy my teeth and gums looked. So I had to tell her about the benefits of going wheat-free.

  9. Brenda says:

    Hi Neicee,
    All I do for the toothpaste is equal amounts of coconut oil and baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda) and mix till I get a nice paste. Of course if its cold it will harden a little. I have a container to put it in. Heaps cheaper than retail toothpaste and better for you with out the sugar and other unknown ingredients.
    Brenda

    • Neicee says:

      Thank you so much….I’ll try it. To be honest though, my dentist gives out samples to keep me in business until my next 3 month cleaning and check-up. I’ve been saving them and donating to the women’s shelter in town. It may not be good for them, but otherwise they’d have nothing to use. Same for the floss. I use the little brush like picks. Floss doesn’t get to the real pockets.

      I also use coconut oil for a ton of other things. Especially, after a shower. It’s helping to make some spots disappear that were caused by having some tag moles removed. Even prescription skin cream did nothing for them. I eat it, use it after brushing, smoothe over the body, and love the smell.

  10. Shelly says:

    Thanks for the tip about the toothpaste. I will try it. I am using coconut oil for my skin too and love it.
    This is a bit off topic, but here is a tip for removing skin tags. Apply Sally Henson’s Diamond Nail Hardner on the tag everyday for a week or two. It will dry up and fall off. My husband had two removed at the dr.’s office and the came back. He then used the nail hardener on them and they have not returned.

    • Neicee says:

      Shelly, and my thanks about the skin tag remedy. I’ll try it. That little visit to the dermatologist was upwards of $180 and some are still sore, or coming back. Can’t tell which? Tip for the hair, try argan oil if you can find it. In it’s pure/food safe variety they claim it’s very healthful to add to salads, etc.. Think I’ll just keep it for the hair though. Shine like you’ve never seen and helps the hair retain moisture. ;)

  11. Nora says:

    Be careful using nail hardener on skin (or really at all). It works because it kills the tissue, and it does that because the main ingredient is formaldehyde which is a carcinogen. Just a heads up

  12. Geisha says:

    Last week I went to a dentist, first time in years. I haven’t been taking particular care of my teeth BUT – first time ever “you have nothing to worry about, no gum problems, no cavities” and she didn’t even need to do a clean, nothing at all, I’m in my sixties. Two things I’ve done differently, gave up wheat some months ago after Wheat Belly, and more recently have been swishing organic coconut oil round my mouth for about 3 minutes after brushing. I’m looking for a toothpaste without bi-carb, as Gerson Therapy says NO SALT as it messes with potassium in the cells – all sick bodies lack potassium they say – and some patients following their vegan-like treatment have improved more rapidly when they stop using toothpaste with bicarb. Straying off the diet in such minor ways slows recovery. I’m considering trying a clay/coconut oil home made toothpaste mix – doesn’t sound appetising at all ;D

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  14. Jack says:

    I shop at Trader Joe’s almost exclusively, and recently started my new Wheat Free path. I saw a new product there: Corn Pasta which is made from Corn Flour…how good/bad might this be as I embark on this journey as a once in a while pasta meal?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Awful, Jack: Plain awful.

      This is essentially a “gluten-free” product that sends blood sugar through the roof and thereby causes cataracts, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

      I love Trader Joes, but they don’t always get the health part right.

    • Bettye says:

      Wish I could eat that corn pasta. It sat like a concrete slab in my gut then I was tested for corn allergy so that ended that.

  15. Gail says:

    I have been gluten free for 5 years. It is the first time in my life that consistantly my dential hygenist comments on the health of the gums. Prior to going GF, I was looking at gum surgery. Bleeding is minimal and no gum pain. I wish that dentist knew about this.
    Gail

  16. Bettye says:

    Regarding dental health: I will share something that changed my dental health completely. I was the gal with teeth loosening, lots of pain, gum problems and wound up with 4 root canals. I started my search and found Dr. Behm at http://www.saveyourteeth.com His product in Florida ( and I am in CA) was amazing. For $50 ( for two people)you purchase a big jar of his biosalts, Hulda Clarks pure baking soda, and all kinds of dental goodies ( I do not use the colloidal silver). I purchased of course no flouride, no sodium lauryl sulfate toothpaste. Then the Biosalt mixture scrubbed into the gumline and teeth, then Institute of Vibrant Living’s Oral Guard spray. I purchase from the health food store a bottle of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide, ( nature’s well kept secret) and dilute it 1:11. I keep it in my bathroom and swab it over my gums, put some oral guard spray in there, brush with the biosalts and toothpaste. I have to say, for 7 yrs now, my teeth are solid, my gums pinker and no problems. We advocate the regimen to our patients and they counter with good results as well, especially during dental crisis. It helps to only drink purified water and avoid all the gluten, sugary, starchy products as well.

    • Rhonda says:

      Oil of oregano also works wonders. I started taking it for repeated sinus infections (before I knew that they were likely caused by wheat) and was shocked at my dental appt. when the scraping was minimal and they said my gums looked great. The only thing I had changed at that time was swishing with water and oil of oregano after I brushed my teeth before bed at night. Thought it was a fluke until the hygienist repeated the comment a year later. Now that I am off sugar and wheat, I mostly use the oil of oregano when I feel a cold or flu coming on. At my last dental appt. my dentist said that I probably wouldn’t have another cavity for the rest of my life.

  17. Detlef Stolpe says:

    I live in Australia and use New Zealand Propolis toothpaste. Several brands available at my local health food shop and only slightly dearer than all the other toothpastes at the supermarket. No flouride in this toothpaste and a small amount goes much further than regular toothpaste.
    Mouth feels terrific.

  18. PATRICK C says:

    any connections with E.D.? or at the very lease improvement in erections?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, many men have reported improvement in erectile potency and libido.

      I believe that it is likely due mostly to the loss of visceral fat which reduces the expression of the aromatase enzyme, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. Lose the belly fat, lose the excessive aromatase enzyme activity, allow testosterone to increase and estrogen to decrease.

      There are also improvements in something called “endothelial function,” i.e., the normal responsiveness of arteries, including those of the penis.

  19. Kristal says:

    Interesting info about the amylopectin-A. I am curious if this in relation to all modern wheat or if it has more to do with processing of it, removing all the fiber etc. I read an article about Xylitol being a great way to avoid some of the bacteria attack processes that happen on the mouth. I’m thinking they could help combat this problem as well to some degree. Funny, Xylitol is made of sugar and is actually used to make alternative toothpaste.

    • James says:

      Hi there,

      Xylitol is not made of sugar, it is one member of the polyol family, which is sweet to the taste but cannot be called a sugar. It has 5 C atoms instead of 6 like other most other sugar alcohols o even sugar. That is what makes it a non-food for bacteria and yeast. Since it is more alkalizing (and it is the only sweetener that I know of with this property), it is excellent for the mouth environment.

      J.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, it has nothing to do with processing, Kristal. Amyopectin A is amylpectin A, regardless of processing.

      And xylitol, while it is a useful sweetener, has next to no effect in impairing the adverse consequences of wheat consumption, no more than putting a filter on a cigarette makes it healthy.

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