The following article was written by Shannon Korczynski, RDH, in completion of requirements to become an IABDM Certified Biological Hygienist. Congratulations, Shannon!
Our bodies are miraculous. In an environment where they are supported, they always have a solution for any problem that ails us. Unfortunately, with our modern lifestyle, genetic and emotional traumas, antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs, a fast food nation mentality, scorch-the-earth ideas, and toxic lifestyles, full of stress, sleepless nights and EMFs, our bodies are losing the fight.
So when a patient presents with their form of chronic inflammatory disease of the oral cavity, we have to start at the core. Any medicaments used or procedures that we perform will have a short lifespan without addressing the root cause. Unfortunately, even in a biological setting, I have come to see missteps in information and supportive modalities.
I believe that the one billion microbes residing on just one tooth (1), along with the 40 trillion that we carry around (2), have a job to do. They fight pathogens, support our immune system, help with digestion and absorption of our nutrients and help to stabilize our emotional well being (3). In our mouths specifically, the microbes help to support the plaque biofilm that also contains salivary proteins and food debris (4). As hygienists, we were taught to eradicate the biofilm and sterilize the oral environment for good oral healing. Then we repeatedly instructed patients to brush multiple times a day, floss daily, and use over-the-counter or prescription products to assist in the task of killing bacteria.
How was the research so skewed to think that obliterating the innate life force that feeds our physical and emotional health would result in a lifelong solution?
We have all seen patients with little to no plaque who exhibit moderate inflammation and severe bleeding. On the other hand, we have experienced the patient who fails to even brush their teeth, and their oral mucosa looks happy and content. In the biological setting that I work in, I have found that many of my patients are using natural toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain silver, essential oils, or the like. I have been disappointed with the appearance and health of their soft tissue. Over the course of my tenure I have diligently asked each patient about their home care in order to devise a plan of action. So, I share with them, and you, my journey, and how I found that the mechanics and the health of my system far outweigh the products meant to cure gum disease.
I have been living a crunchy dental life for roughly eight years. I stopped using commercial products after finding that I had a sensitivity to coconut. I eliminated all things coconut, which was everything commercially produced, basically. I sought an oral hygiene protocol that would comply.
Voila! Right in my own kitchen I discovered that baking soda and salt worked amazingly well. I have continued using the baking soda and salt for eight years and only recently started trying commercially produced toothpastes to sample for office distribution. I have bought and tried and found disappointment in so many pastes until I found Revitin. Revitin is a commercial toothpaste that is natural, and its key focus is to nurture and balance the oral ecology (5). It primarily contains probiotics, vitamins K, C, D, and E, CoQ10, and MSM. There are no natural or chemical antimicrobials. It only contains ingredients that strengthen the gingiva, reduce inflammation, inhibit plaque, and suppress infectious organisms (6).
At the time I discovered my sensitivity to coconut, I also used coconut oil for oil pulling. I started my research into oil pulling with alternatives to coconut, such as sesame and sunflower seed oils (7). So even to this day, I use one or all of the oils used by ancient societies. I never use it every day, usually 1-2 times per week. And I always make it myself to avoid additional ingredients that don’t serve me, especially the addition of essential oils which act as antimicrobials.
I have come to believe that the daily use of anything that disrupts the oral microbial balance is an issue that needs to be addressed.
I had always used a Sonicare, at least since 1996, and I believe it to be the gold standard in power toothbrushes. If used with the correct technique, it has been shown to remove bacteria without having to touch the biofilm. So it has the ability to deplaque and remove food debris that a manual toothbrush probably won’t access (8).
But I don’t feel that it is all that a patient should be using.
I prefer manual toothbrushes that have soft, elongated bristles that reach further in between the teeth along the line angles to reduce developing biofilm above the gum line. I personally like Dr Plotka’s toothbrush that has silver embedded in the bristles to sanitize it (9). There is no research to declare that the silver bristles affect the oral environment and microbiome. I also incorporate tongue scraping on a routine basis, if not everyday.
As a hygienist since 1994, I also previously flossed religiously without fail and with commercial flosses. At the time, I was a proponent for an expandable floss which is no longer on the market, but it was not a natural product. And I was never a fan of shred-resistant floss. My philosophy was that if I couldn’t keep it on my finger, because of its slippery feel, how was I supposed to expect it to remove all the debris and bacteria from my teeth?
But finally in January 2019, I was not surprised to hear about the health risks associated with shred-resistant flosses, also known as PTFE floss. The study suggested that consumer behaviors, including flossing with shred-resistant floss, showed elevated levels of the toxic chemicals associated with liver damage, fertility problems, kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and more. Other behaviors included exposure to stain resistant materials, prepared foods in coated cardboard containers, and contaminated water supplies (10).
Therefore my recommendations for floss include silk, nylon, or polyester. Waxed or unwaxed. And no PTFEs (polytetrafluoroethylene).
After some time without coconut, I was able to add it back in, but I did so sparingly, using it where I needed to instead of bombarding my system again. I chose at that time to try a new floss with coconut oil-coated polyester fibers called Cocofloss (11). It was love at first use. I find the textured floss unbeatable in effectiveness. I believe that it scrubs the tooth like a microfiber cloth and exfoliates any diseased lining from the sulcus, making for a gentle cleaning that needn’t be performed everyday. I chose to use and recommend the mint flavor due to the verifiable mint essential oil instead of perfumed flavoring. And in order to reduce my coconut exposure, I only floss 1 to 2 times a week. Other days I like to utilize soft picks or any form of proxy brush to remove excess bacteria and food debris (12).
The tools we use generally are the most effective, and the products that we chose, or are recommended to us, may assist but can generally cause more harm than good. I believe my patients can benefit from the routines that I have developed for myself and set into place over the last 26 years as a dental hygienist, 8 years as a natural patient/student, and 6 months in a biological practice.
Of course, we are all different and require an individual approach. I also try to incorporate a discussion about diet and nutrition. I personally believe in a nutrient-dense, ancestral diet – one chock full of fat soluble vitamins and spore-based probiotics (13). I believe bacteria are not the root cause of the inflammation in the oral cavity but the manifestation of human-made imbalances, poor lifestyle habits, and the functional issues that we all have developed individually.
We all learn from each other and want to be heard. Therefore, I teach by sharing and learn by listening.
- BioGaia. (n.d.). BioGaia/Health Areas/Oral Health. Retrieved from: https://www.biogaia.com/health-areas/probiotic-oral-health/.
- Greshko, Michael. (01/13/2016). How Many Cells Are In The Human Body-And How Many Microbes? New counts revise a popular factoid about how many bacteria live inside us. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/01/160111-microbiome-estimate-count-ratio-human-health-science/#close.
- Revitin. ( n.d.). What are Prebiotics and How are they Related to Probiotics? Retrieved from: https://www.revitin.com/FeedItem/What-are-Prebiotics-and-How-are-they-Related-to-Probiotics.
- Abdullah S Hemadi, Ruijie Huang, Yuan Zhou & Jing Zou. (11/10/2017). Salivary proteins and microbiota as biomarkers for early childhood caries risk assessment. International Journal of Oral Science. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijos201735#Sec6.
- Revitin. (n.d.) Revitin. Retrived from https://www.revitin.com/.
- Revitin. (n.d.) About/Prebiotic Toothpaste. Retrieved from: https://www.revitin.com/f/Prebiotic-Toothpaste/.
- Gujarati, Dr. Rupali. (05/05/2020). What are different types of oils for pulling. Retrieved from: https://sabkadentist.com/what-are-different-types-of-oils-for-pulling/.
- Yakob, PhD, RDH, Maha. (2017). Philips Sonicare and Evidence-based Innovation: Closing the Gap Between Clinical Research and Dental Practice. The Journal of Clinical Dentistry.
- Plotka, Dr Ronald. (n.d.). Flossing Bristles. Retrieved from: http://www.mouthwatchers.com
- Katherine E. Boronow, Julia Green Brody, Laurel A. Schaider, Graham F. Peaslee, Laurie Havas & Barbara A. Cohn. (01/08/2019). Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-018-0109-y#citeas.
- Cocofloss Professional. (n. d.). FAQs/Product. Retrieved from: http://www.Cocofloss pro.com.
- SUNSTAR/ GUM. (N.d.) Interdental cleaning, extremely important, but still underestimated. Retrived from https://professional.sunstargum.com/news-events/news/importance-of-interdental-cleaning.html?topicId=/news/interdental-cleaning.
- Lin, Dr. Steven. (02/05/2019). The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Inc.