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What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

By Dr. Michael J. Olmstead, D.D.S.

Health care has made many advances over the years and dentistry has been at the forefront of the development of new techniques and materials. Unfortunately, some of these dental procedures have unintended consequences associated with them. As well, some dental conditions if left untreated, will result in very significant health risks. Below we will briefly touch on some of these issues. Please note that it is beyond the scope of this presentation to include all of the scientific research sources, but the body of study in each of these areas is considerable and growing.

Periodontal Disease

It has been well established for over 25 years that the gum disease which affects 80-90% of adults and 40% of children plays a major role in many systemic conditions. Scientific research has isolated diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, abnormal pregnancy outcomes, gastric, arthritis, kidney disease and duodenal ulcers as some of the problems that periodontal (gum) disease is strongly associated with. Recently, studies have strongly connected it with pancreatic and kidney cancers well as colorectal cancer being triggered by a bacteria found in dental plaque. The reason appears to be the bacteria and inflammatory by products associated with gum disease circulate in the blood stream, digestive and respiratory systems.

The statistics are startling! If you have even moderate gum disease and are pregnant, you have a 7X greater risk of an APO (abnormal birth weight pregnancy outcome). Your chance of a coronary event is 4X greater. Contemporary chronic disease (80% of adults have 1 or more) theories are telling us that inflammation is a primary, and maybe, the largest single cause. For many people the largest source of this inflammation is in their oral cavity. In short, you can not protect yourself from life threatening health problems without good gum tissue health.

SOLUTION: Establish a home care program of scrapping your tongue, flossing and brushing at least 2X/day. Do this immediately upon arising and as the last thing before bed. Have your teeth cleaned 2,3 X /year. If you have swollen, sore, bleeding or receded gums, seek professional care immediately.


Mercury is one of the most dangerous heavy metals in general use in dentistry. It is not correct to say it is a toxin, because there is no threshold upon which it will not cause cellular damage. Therefore, toxicologists define this more correctly as a poison. It also accumulates in the system, and is not easily cleansed away by normal body function.

The "silver" fillings that are still widely used and present in most peoples mouths are 50% mercury by weight and only 30% silver. They should really be called mercury fillings. Contrary to some opinions, it is not locked in the filling, but leaks out and accumulates in various tissues of the body. An interesting study showed that it was found to be present in all breast cancer tumor cells sampled.

Inhibiting our immune system, specifically damaging brain cells, kidney dysfunction, neurologic disorders, motor disturbances and psychologic disorders (depression, mood swings) are some of the negative effects of mercury on the body.

SOLUTION: Do not have any new amalgam ("silver") fillings placed in your mouth. If you currently have amalgam fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist skilled in a safe removal protocol (this is very important).

Local Anesthetics

Local anesthetics are a necessary part of modern dental care. But what is not commonly understood is the metabolism of the anesthetic once it has served its purpose. 2/3 rd of the local dental anesthetics produce anilines in the body. This is a highly carcinogenic chemical. Exposure to it in animals will cause breast cancer as well as prostrate, brain, sarcomas and leukemia. This, anilines will do 99% of the time. 1 carpal or one shot of Lidocaine local anesthetic produces aniline equivalent to that found in 84,000 cigarettes.

SOLUTION: As an alternative, articaine or septocaine can be used. They do not create anilines in the body. Although there are always side effects to any drug given, these are preferable to the most commonly used Lidocaine. Marcaine produces 80% less aniline when used as a long acting local anesthetic.


This chemical is used in toothpaste and hand soaps to control the bacteria. Unfortunately, triclosan is one of the top ten, used on a regular basis, endocrine disputing chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can promote breast, prostrate, ovarian and testicular cancer. It can also promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It has also been related to thyroid disfunction. It is also present in the rubber and plastic of children toys.

Because the mouth is a very vascular area, it readily absorbs the chemicals that we use for cleaning our mouths.

SOLUTION: Do not use any product that contains this chemical. It will be clearly stated on the label. Do not purchase children toys that say they contain germ fighting"disinfectant" as children will put these in their mouth.

(On a separate topic, 99% of breast cancer tissue contained paraben esters. These are chemicals widely used as preservatives in cosmetics.)

SOLUTION: Read the labels and do not purchase if it contains any parabens.


We consume fluoride from a variety of sources: water, toothpaste, mouth rinses, vitamins, fluoride treatments and prescription medications (antibiotics and mood altering drugs).

There is NO need for fluoride in human nutrition. It does not prevent tooth decay. It does not make bones stronger.

Then what does it do?

1) Accumulates in our long bones increasing the chance of Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer). 2) Can cause ADHD 3) Linked to Hypothyroidism 4) Linked to depression 5) Is a potent endocrine disrupter (see above under Triclosan) 6) Lowers IQ 7) Increases coronary artery calcification

SOLUTION: Do not drink fluoridated water, expose your children to fluoride vitamins or treatments, do not take antibiotics or any drugs that contain fluoride and do not use fluoride toothpaste.

Root Canals

There are 15-25 million root canals performed every year in the USA depending on the data source. This is a staggering number when you realize that there are serious risks associated with this commonly accepted dental treatment.

Because it is not possible to permanently disinfect the non-vital tooth, microorganisms and their toxic waste products accumulate in and around these teeth. Certain specific cancer inhibiting proteins are blocked by the toxic effect of root canal treated teeth. This potentiates the development and growth of tumor cells.

It is beyond the scope of this brief article to elaborate more, but suffice it to say root canal filled teeth pose a considerable risk for encouraging many degenerative health conditions.

SOLUTION: Look for other treatment options than root canal treatment. If you have root canals, make absolutely certain they, at the very least, look absent of infection basis x-ray evaluation. If you have chronic health conditions (cancer, arthritis, heart disease, immune system suppression, etc.) consider replacement of these teeth under the guidance of a biocompatible dentist.

As you can see there are many topics relating dental health, materials and procedures to our overall health. In further articles we will discuss dental sealants, bisphosphonates (a drug used for osteoperosis), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (and similar compounds), oral and throat HPV infection and dental pulpotomies on children.