Bonnie Modugno, MS, RDHealth Blog - Nutrition

Inflammation and dental health

Published on 2010-03-18 by Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD

March 18, 2010
Inflammation is associated with everything from cardiovascular disease and diabetes to dental health. Inflammatory gum disease is considered a significant risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. I am wondering if omega three:omega 6 fatty acid ratios are a factor.

Both my husband and I had dental appointments for routine cleaning in the last few weeks. Frank has always enjoyed better dental health. He boasts of his one lifetime cavity and comes home singing from his appointments, all aglow from lots of praise for taking such good care of his teeth. I have never enjoyed such a sunny experience. In our household my teeth are considered an investment, and if the price of gold keeps going up, I may have to start fearing for my life.

Ironically, it has always been a challenging task for me to follow through with directives to floss and stimulate my gums with all the funny tools. Frank is a much better patient, and when the hygienist saw him 6 months ago she really scared him. She started talking about a deep cleaning procedure for the gums that sounded draconian–costly and painful. My husband got it. He even more diligently flossed, began regularly using his rubber tip and a bristle brush around his gums and even changed to an electric toothbrush. He got religion.

I on the other hand have improved to the point where I pretty regularly floss but have yet to pick up one the funny tools. It is a huge improvement over years past, but definitely not up to the hygienist’s expectations. So how were our appointments this month?


Both of us improved significantly. Frank is happily continuing his routine, convinced all the brushing, poking, prodding, and stimulating is keeping his gums healthy. I am wondering how much switching to grass fed meat, and grass fed animal products in general is impacting gum inflammation. I am also wondering if the pre- and pro-biotics in raw cow, sheep and goat milk products are impacting the bacteria that reside in our digestive tract, further improving dental health.

This is not the first time dental health and cardiovascular disease have been linked. Weston A. Price Foundation promotes a dietary platform popularized by it’s founder, Weston A. Price, DDS–a dentist. Dr. Price’s observations and theories were published during the first half of the 20th century. Despite being the chairman of the Research Section of the American Dental Association from 1914–1923,[1] he was later marginalized by the American Dental Association for his outspoken views. Recently his work has been questioned by Stephen Barrett of “Quackwatch.” I’m not so sure all the heated criticism is constructive.

The primary premise of the dietary platform is a return to nutrient dense whole foods, including raw and full fat dairy products and meat from grass fed and pastured animals. Each of these foods is known to improve the omega 3 content of the diet, improving the omega 6:omega 3 fatty acid ratio. One anticipated outcome could be reduced inflammation.

Is changing the feed of our animals enough to significantly diminish the formation plaque and other factors that contribute to gum inflammation? I have a hunch it may. But I don’t think it is on the radar in the dental industry. My hygienist is convinced it is all the good brushing, flossing, poking, prodding and stimulating I’ve been doing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth.

1. George E. Meinig (January 1994). Root Canal Cover-Up (2nd rev. ed.). Bion Pub. Ojai, CA. ISBN 0945196199.

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