In essence, teeth primarily serve as tools for us to chew and bite food. Beyond their role in maintaining facial aesthetics, they don’t have a significant impact. Some individuals have a full set of teeth and can lead a “healthy” life for many years. The only inconvenience is related to dietary choices; avoiding hard foods and opting for softer, semi-liquid, or liquid diets. Moreover, it doesn’t hinder one’s ability to speak clearly or affect daily communication. It all comes down to the same conclusion: 

Are dentists truly essential?

If you were to inquire, my response would unequivocally be, “Yes, they are unquestionably crucial!”

As human society progresses and evolves, people’s expectations for their quality of life continue to rise. Disregarding the importance of teeth can leave you toothless in your prime, which is far from being a confidence-boosting scenario. Imagine walking around with a sunken mouth, surely, it’s an uncomfortable situation, and at the very least, one might consider getting dentures for enhancement. In the past, people had no alternatives; they had to cope with decaying teeth, much like everyone around them. However, this is merely a superficial perspective. In reality, dental issues are intricately linked to one’s overall health. Believe it or not, I certainly do!

Going back to 1925, a Canadian dentist named Dr. Weston A. Price was working in the United States. The astute Dr. Price, through years of dental practice, observed a potential correlation between a patient’s physical health and their dental well-being, with a particular emphasis on tooth decay. He delved into the influence of dietary habits, nutritional composition, and dietary structure on health. This spurred his interest in nutrition, leading him and his wife to embark on a medical journey of exploration and investigation. They studied dental conditions in various groups of people across more than 100 cities and regions in over 10 countries. Their research spanned from children to adults, encompassing growth and development, tooth decay, the connection between facial and jaw shape and developmental molding, as well as dental diseases. In addition to capturing numerous photographs of people’s teeth and faces, they gathered extensive data on the dietary habits and structures of various regions and ethnic groups, even extending to general health conditions.

In 1939, Dr. Pu authored a book titled “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” In a subsequent revised edition, he introduced the concept of a mysterious active factor known as “Activator X.” This unique nutrient substance was discovered after extensive travels, where Dr. Pu compared the dental health of various population groups across different regions. Activator X is a fat-soluble substance that is commonly found in animal fats. Although the precise chemical structure of this substance remains unknown, it has demonstrated remarkable efficacy in preventing and treating certain forms of tooth decay, particularly in children, and it significantly contributes to the development and maturation of facial, maxillary, and overall skeletal structures in children and adolescents. Furthermore, it appears to have a positive influence on the prevention of disorders of the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.

Dr. Pu conducted experiments involving the addition of cod liver and butter to diets, which resulted in improvements in tooth decay, reduced incidences of fractures, and the mitigation of epilepsy in children. Additionally, he observed that the degradation and loss of essential vitamins and minerals during the industrialized commercial production and storage of food in the modern Western world (which was experiencing certain gaps in its practices at that time) were linked to increased tooth decay and heightened health risks in urbanized populations.

Dr. Pu also put forth the theory of oral focal infection in his other book, “Oral Infection, Oral and Systemic Diseases.” This theory stemmed from his observations that tooth decay was primarily a consequence of nutritional imbalances. He noted that any infection lesions within the oral cavity, such as periodontitis, gingivitis, or dental osteomyelitis, and particularly the harm caused by tooth decay, could lead to the spread of bacteria into the bloodstream, affecting other parts of the body and organ tissues. This, in turn, could result in more severe and even life-threatening illnesses. Consequently, Dr. Pu recommended the removal of severely decayed teeth as a part of the treatment plan. Root canal treatments, with their unpredictable outcomes, were to be avoided in favor of extractions to preempt future complications.

The ultimate source of bacterial infection, he argued, was often nothing more than the absence of teeth, which not only had aesthetic and practical implications but also served to forestall related discomforts caused by these infections. However, it’s important to note that Dr. Pu’s theory encountered opposition and criticism from many of his colleagues. They believed that the detrimental impact of malnutrition on human health due to chewing and biting dysfunction resulting from tooth loss should not be underestimated. With the ongoing enhancements in the diagnosis and treatment of dental ailments and the increasing awareness of oral health care, root canal treatment remained the preferred choice when preserving a decayed tooth conditionally was possible. Extraction was considered a last resort.

In 1929, Danish biochemist Dr. Dam made a groundbreaking discovery of vitamin K and its role in the human blood coagulation mechanism, ultimately earning him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1943. Back then, it was commonly believed that vitamins K1 and K2 were different forms of the same vitamin. It wasn’t until 1974 that scientists identified vitamin K-dependent proteins, providing fresh insights into vitamin K, particularly K2. Vitamin D collaboratively activates a group of proteins synthesized within the body, which must be converted into biologically active substances through the action of sufficient vitamin K2, in a process known as carboxylation. Prominent examples of such proteins include MGP and osteocalcin.

MGP (Matrix Gla Protein) is found abundantly in various tissues, particularly in cartilage and arterial walls. This protein serves as a safeguard against premature calcification in cartilage, hardening of arterial walls, and abnormal calcification in extraneous tissues by inhibiting calcium deposition.

Osteocalcin, on the other hand, is primarily produced by osteoblasts and plays a pivotal role in regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism within bones. It is particularly responsible for organizing the structural layout of deposited calcium within bones, thereby enhancing bone density and functionality.

Approximately 30 years ago, scientists discovered that the elusive “Activator X,” identified by Dr. Pu, is actually vitamin K2. This vitamin, hidden from scientific view for decades, plays a critical role in promoting the healthy development and metabolism of our bones while preventing calcium deposition and the hardening of non-skeletal tissues.

Vitamin K1 is commonly found in a variety of green leafy vegetables, certain fruits, vegetable oils, pasta, and other foods. It is primarily used by the liver to activate blood coagulation proteins. In contrast, vitamin K2 can be categorized into three main types: the short-chain MK-4 and the long-chain MK-8 and MK-9. These are converted into K2 by intestinal bacteria after animals consume grass and are subsequently stored in the animal’s liver (mainly MK-4) and breast milk (MK-8 and MK-9). As a result, individuals can obtain MK-4, MK-8, and MK-9 from the liver or dairy products of these animals. However, it’s worth noting that modern cattle are typically raised in captivity and fed corn grains instead of grazing on grass, which raises questions about the availability of MK-4, MK-8, and MK-9.

The most biologically active form of vitamin K2 is medium-chain MK-7, which is produced by bacteria (not mold or yeast) during the food fermentation process. The richest source of MK-7 is found in natto, a type of soy food produced through bacterial fermentation. Most vitamin K2 supplements on the market primarily contain MK-7 extracted from natto, with common doses ranging from 90 to 180 micrograms. For patients taking anticoagulant medications, a reduced dose of 45 micrograms is recommended under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Within the human body, the tissues with the highest vitamin K2 concentration are the pancreas, followed by the salivary glands. The precise impact of K2 on human health is still an area of ongoing exploration.

Dr. Pu also introduced the theory of oral focal infection in his book “Oral Infection, Oral and Systemic Diseases.” As a dentist, Dr. Pu recognized the intricate relationship between dental health, overall health, and nutritional status. This understanding provides us with a valuable opportunity to address the significance of teeth correctly.

We are aware that vitamin D deficiency can result in conditions such as rickets, characterized by osteomalacia and osteoporosis, while vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy, marked by gum bleeding and erosion, among other clinical manifestations. Insufficient intake of certain B vitamins can also trigger skin and mucous membrane inflammation, including gum problems. Hence, besides factors like partial dental hygiene discussed in previous articles, including the use of dental floss and professional tooth cleaning, the overall nutritional status of the body and the balance in one’s diet, as well as deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, can adversely affect the health and reparative functions of gum periodontal tissues from within the body. The interplay of internal and external factors complicates matters further.

Additionally, the teeth and the supporting alveolar bone are essentially bone and connective tissues, with osteocalcin being a key factor in dentin health. Vitamin K2 plays a significant role in the regenerative and reparative abilities of alveolar bone and dentin. If our bodies lack vitamin D and K2, especially as we age and may experience osteoporosis, it’s conceivable that our alveolar bone and dentin could also be impacted by this condition.

Therefore, as we diligently strive to maintain oral hygiene and the well-being of the gum mucous membrane surrounding our teeth, it’s crucial to focus on balanced nutrient intake throughout the entire body to prevent the loss of teeth and oral bone. This comprehensive approach is key to effectively preventing various oral health issues. Indeed, when the mouth is constantly inflamed, red, swollen, painful, and prone to ongoing infections, it presents a potential focal point. If the body’s immune system is compromised, these seemingly insignificant germs can seize the opportunity and lead to severe consequences, a not uncommon occurrence in clinical practice.

In summary, the health of your teeth is intricately linked to your overall well-being. A Simple dental floss can spare you from numerous troubles. Your teeth and gums represent the bones and mucous membrane tissues of your body, and their health is akin to a small mirror reflecting the overall state of your body.

Proper supplementation of vitamin D3 and K2 not only helps prevent cardiovascular and cerebrovascular issues but also reduces the risk of osteoporosis. It maintains the right balance in your body, ensuring the softness it needs (for vascular walls and soft tissues) and the hardness it requires (for bones and teeth).