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Remembering Kevin Moore

Could Your Poor Dental Health Be A Hidden Cause Of High Cholesterol?

How many people have gone to see their primary care physician to have a routine cholesterol panel done as part of their annual physical checkup only to discover that they have what their doctor says is an elevated total cholesterol of over 200 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol of over 100 mg/dL? What typically happens next has become an all-too-predictable patten amongst most conventionally-trained physicians: you get a stern warning against eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet along with a fresh new prescription for a statin medication to deal with this brand new dastardly disease you have now been diagnosed and branded with known as hypercholesterolemia. Dum dum dum! This scenario has unfortunately unfolded again and again in most medical offices all across the United States and around the world and it truly saddens me that none of these doctors have ever stopped for a moment to ask a very simple yet obvious question: Why are the cholesterol levels elevated in my patient? Nobody seems to be asking this question.

This is precisely the reason why I have been writing a book for laypeople about cholesterol this year because there’s so much more to this story than simply treating patients with risky prescription medications that never really address the underlying issues behind why cholesterol levels are up in the first place. Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers? written with my co-author Dr. Eric Westman is set to release in North America on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 (the international release date is September 15, 2013) and I can’t wait for it to get out there as a practical educational resource tool for patients and doctors alike who have become so utterly confused by all the maddening cholesterol chaos that is swirling around about this subject.

In the next few months leading up to the release of Cholesterol Clarity, I will be sharing some of the most interesting information that came up within the course of my research for the book that I think will be helpful to you in your own cholesterol journey. So many people are oblivious to most of the information I will be sharing because quite frankly nobody out there seems to care a bit in the world about figuring out why cholesterol might be elevated–they’re just obsessed with lowering it by any means necessary. Something is majorly wrong with this picture.

Today’s blog post contains information that is particularly personal and quite possibly relevant to my own issues with elevated cholesterol. I’m happy to share my story in the hopes that it might give you encouragement or at least something to consider as you weigh your options about what to do for your own health. One of the chapters in my upcoming book is called “9 Reasons Why Cholesterol Levels Can Go Up” and in that chapter I talk about how chronic bacterial infections in your teeth can be a causal factor in why cholesterol levels are elevated. I have long suspected this as one of the reasons why my cholesterol is higher than normal. And the increases I have seen on my cholesterol panels coincide with my teeth crumbling over the past few years. I could have seen this coming a long time ago.

When I was a kid, I didn’t think twice about crunching hard candy like lollipops and Jawbreakers and then leaving that sugary stuff sitting deep within the crevices of my molars without a second thought. Yes, I was stupid to do that and it led to me needing some pretty major dental work beginning in my early 20’s. As fortune would have it, I worked as a runner for a law firm in Memphis, Tennessee in 1991 after graduating from college and they offered not just health insurance but also dental insurance. Knowing that I had work that needed to be done on my teeth, I took full advantage of this benefit. Not surprisingly, I had multiple cavities and even a couple of teeth that needed root canals undoubtedly because of all that candy crunching I did in my youth. Payday had arrived for the sins of my sugar-loving childhood and it was at this moment in my life that I was subjected to mercury dental amalgam fillings that still exist in my mouth today. The consequences of this seemingly innocuous action may be impacting my health in ways I don’t want it to.

Now that it’s been two decades since I first had all of that dental work done with a few more root canals and fillings along the way, the damage has already been done. Although for the past decade of my life I have consumed a healthy sugar-free, low-carb lifestyle, the teeth that were compromised in my mouth from my high-carb, sugar-fest days are in trouble. I can taste a funky bacterial flavor in my mouth ever since one of my teeth crumbled around a filling a couple of years back. And the mercury exposure from those silver amalgams are probably giving me a bigger toxic dose of heavy metal than I need to be having. Could it be that I’ve seen a precipitous rise in my cholesterol levels in recent years in direct response to my compromised dental health? This was a question I posed to some of my expert friends I interviewed in Cholesterol Clarity.

Family physician Dr. Rocky Patel from the Arizona Sun Prevention Center told me that he sees a lot of patients that contend with periodontal disease as a causal factor in various aspects of their health, including elevated cholesterol levels. “If we suspect a patient has an infection or gingivitis, we make sure they get a proper evaluation for bacterial load in the mouth. This could go undiagnosed for many years and be subclinical.” When I visited Australia in late 2012, I met a holistic dentist named Dr. Ron Ehrlich who explained to me that chronic dental infection can happen within the nerve of a tooth where the nerve has died and doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with any pain. Additionally, chronic infections that are deep within your jaw bone can be associated with extracted teeth and still harbor pathogens. And it was Dr. Ehrlich who made me seriously consider having my mercury amalgams removed when he said “If there are dental mercury amalgams in someone’s teeth, then it is stored in the kidney, liver and brain and to my mind would classify as a heavy metal impacting your cholesterol.” O…M…G! As soon as I returned home from my tour of Australia, I immediately sought out a holistic dentist in my area to deal with all of these issues.

After doing a quick search on Google, I found a holistic dentist in my neighboring city of Greenville, South Carolina named Dr. John Palmer from Palmer Distinctive Dentistry. From what I saw on his web site, I thought he’d be a great resource for me to consider my options about what to do regarding my messy mouth situation. Before I went to see Dr. Palmer this week, I decided to go see my traditional dentist just around the corner from me to see what he had to say about my situation. After taking the x-rays of my teeth that you see at the top of this blog post, he said I had two teeth that needed to be extracted and that the rest could be filled with mercury fillings. EEEEK! I asked him about the toxic heavy metal exposure and my dentist explained that the amount of mercury exposure in my mouth is about 1% of the mercury exposure in the atmosphere. Listening to his explanation, you could tell he was getting a lot of negative comments from patients and had to come up with something to counter it. I don’t know how true what he said was regarding the mercury exposure, but I decided to go see Dr. Palmer and see what he had to say about my situation.

When Christine and I entered his office, it was almost like walking into a spa. The decor in there was gorgeous and didn’t feel like a dentist’s office at all. The cheerful receptionist enthusiastically greeted us and took care of getting all of the information she needed to put my patient profile into their computer system. As soon as all of that was finished, I was immediately taken back to a patient chair in the back with a comfortable neck pillow placed behind my head. I’m LOVING this! A full HD digital camera shot of every part of my teeth was taken and a dental hygienist began examining my teeth to prepare the information for Dr. Palmer to make his evaluation about what to do for me. Although the full periodontal examination was painful to the point that I had to ask Christine to hold my hand so I could squeeze it to offset the pain, the compassion and kindness the dental hygienist showed me helped make the experience better than it would have been. All in all, she said my gums were healthy and noted I had some tartar buildup that needed to be cleaned at a later date. But as for the holes and metal in my teeth, Dr. Palmer said he would need to extract three of my teeth, put composite material in the ones with cavities and safely remove my mercury fillings. You could really tell he understood the needs of his patients and is dedicated to helping them get healthier.

When the examination was finished, we went back to the front to talk about what all of this work would cost and I was bracing for $8,000-10,000 to do the whole she-bang. I knew whatever the cost would be that I needed to have this done as soon as possible to get healthier and test my theory that my elevated cholesterol could be a direct result of bacterial infection and heavy metal exposure. Imagine my pleasant surprise when the cash cost came in at $3536! Yes, that’s still a whole lot of money, but I knew it meant we would be able to get this done. I asked what the earliest appointment they had available to do all of this work in one day and they said July 3, 2013. BOOK IT and let’s get this show on the road.

Yes, I’m taking a huge financial hit doing this, but the potential positive effects that could happen to my health as a direct result of getting this done make it all worth it to me. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I recheck my cholesterol numbers six months after getting this work done and magically all of my cholesterol levels drop back down to normal again? If this happens, wouldn’t it make those medical doctors who blindly offer up a statin drug to patients with “high cholesterol” look kinda silly for merely putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound without looking for the source of what was causing the injury in the first place? I can’t wait to see if my suspicions regarding my own elevated cholesterol being related to my poor dental health are correct. We’ll know by early 2014.

What do you think about all of this? Have you ever heard of your dental health playing a direct role on your cholesterol levels? Why aren’t more doctors digging deeper looking for answers to why their patient’s cholesterol is elevated rather than taking the easy way out by pushing statin drugs to artificially lower cholesterol? Do you have any experience with getting your dental health in order and seeing positive changes happen with your cholesterol numbers and overall health? Let’s hear from you in the comments section below. I can’t wait until my teeth are whole again at the beginning of July. The payoff will be the results of my NMR Lipoprofile test in December or January. We shall see. STAY TUNED!

  • John Sorrentino

    Best of luck Jimmy. I am surprised that there are dentists still using silver and mercury. I have not placed such a restoration in over 10 years now.

  • pforrester

    I too am surprised the dentist would rather put in silver fillings when I think the other kind cost the patient more unless he just didn’t know how to do them. This is the first time I have ever heard about a connection between oral health and cholesterol.

    1. What would be the metabolic reason for the body to produce more cholesterol?

    2. Wouldn’t a dose of antibiotics, and/or flossing, and swishing with hydrogen peroxide or those antimicrobial dental rinses keep bacteria down?

    If you need teeth pulled then you may have more going on as well. This will be interesting. Is this your next N-1?

    • LLVLCBlog

      Inflammation perhaps. Not taking antibiotics because I love my gut health too much. Only as a last resort. This isn’t necessarily a formal n=1 test, but it should yield some usable results.

  • LLVLCBlog

    I interviewed him on my podcast:
    http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/2276/ramiel-nagel-episode/

    My teeth were so far gone before I changed my diet in 2004. Better than they would have been though. This holistic dentist will make my dental issues whole again.

    • PaleoPhil

      That’s great Jimmy, and I think I may have listened to your podcast interview of Ramiel. So as you know, Ramiel and some of his readers have reported some amazing improvements in a surprisingly short time following his approach with what they thought were hopelessly destroyed teeth. Mine have been less dramatic, but still supposedly impossible. You could try it until your July 3rd appointment and see what happens. Seems like there’s nothing to lose by trying it. There’s also similar useful info on dental health from Weston Price and Drs. Edward and May Mellanby (which Ramiel discusses) and Stephan Guyenet, whom I know you have also interviewed.

      • LLVLCBlog

        I’ve done many of those strategies. My teeth are too far gone.

        • PaleoPhil

          OK Jimmy, if you change your mind and want any tips, let me know. I’ve found some other things helpful beyond even what Ramiel talks about.

          • LLVLCBlog

            Thank you! Gonna see how this goes.

            • PaleoPhil

              I’ll share the following in case your dentist didn’t tell you about it or other folks who may read this have dentists that don’t discuss it. It’s something two dentists didn’t tell me about before extracting four of my teeth on two occasions. Years later a dentist finally told me about it and said four of the extractions contributed to deterioration of my jaw bone, and he said that nowadays dentists try to do all they can to preserve teeth, especially in children.

              “When a tooth is lost, the lack of stimulation causes loss of alveolar bone — its external width, then height, and ultimately bone volume. There is a 25% decrease in width of bone during the first year after tooth loss and an overall 4 millimeters decrease in height over the next few years. As bone loses width, it loses height, then width and height again, and gum tissue also gradually decreases.” http://www.cosmeticdentistryofatlanta.com/the-hidden-consequences-of-losing-teeth/

              “Partial tooth loss is much less well tolerated by patients than was previously the case and, on occasions, when extraction is inevitable, they may seek prosthetic replacement.” Consequences of tooth loss: 2. Dentist considerations–restorative problems and implications, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20218459

              • LLVLCBlog

                Thank you!

  • LLVLCBlog

    I think this is more prevalent than we even know. Hopefully I can show what I think I’ll show. 😉

  • stephanie_o27

    Jimmy,

    What is the plan after the extractions?

    I have a mouth full of crowns and have wondered if there is some underlying infection lingering that keeps my blood sugar elevated.

    As always, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    • LLVLCBlog

      The plan is to remove the dead teeth, pull the mercury and fill the cavities. After I heal, I’ll give it six months to see what impact on my cholesterol.

  • Birgit

    I had 9 amalgams removed. It did not help my cholesterol levels but did help my thyroid levels a lot. I had them replaced with crowns. Sean Croxton had a special dental health summit recently, I found it had lots of info, though overwhelming.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Yep, loved Sean’s Oral Health Summit.

  • RadiantLux

    (2nd try – I think Disqus blew away first comment)

    The mechanistic paradigm that our medical industry uses leaves us open to poor care. When you mention that root canal or extraction cavitation infections could raise cholesterol it makes total sense. The body is protecting itself It’s wonderful that your book is addressing it! .I learned a lot about this from the Healthy Mouth Summit earlier this year.
    Getting the mercury out is very important. My holistic dentist has equipment that exhausts mercury vapors so that the patient and the staff do not get sick. She also has a plan to help the patient detox after all the mercury is out. I purchased a 6 month homeopathic mercury detox. Cilantro is reported to be a good heavy metal chelator. I made this recipe a few times. It is delicious. http://chetday.com/howtoremoveheavymetals.htm. I hope your dentist has a detox plan for you. You might want to go back to the chelation expert you interviewed a few years ago.

    I’m glad you are getting this done while you are healthy. There’s a guy in my nutrition club (former WAPF chapter) who needs to get his mercury removed but is too sick to withstand the process. For anyone considering it, do this BEFORE you get cancer or whatever. Once you are sick it might be too late.

    There are many incidences of people removing a seemingly normal root canal and getting better. I work with a fellow who got a root canal a few years ago. At the time I warned him that is wasn’t the best choice. Since then, he has terrible gut and anxiety issues. I tried to tell him about nutrient dense foods and GAPS, but that is kind of daunting when you are sick and live alone. He just visited a new dentist who told him to remove the root canal. Then my friend put 2 and 2 together. All his digestions troubles started after the root canal. It’s not often that someone comes back 2-3 years later to say you are right.

  • Michael Pollard

    Hi Jimmy,

    Cholesterol and amalgam? Nah! But that’s just a strap line I think.

    As far as I am concerned the dentists are the ones who are at the most risk, both from filling and extracting the amalgam. The PPM in the air around the average dentists chair (and it must be there via aerosol mists despite precautions) must be huge. They do this the whole of their career, are well aware of the risks and the controversy, and yet seem on the whole to be unconcerned.

    I worked in a research laboratory for ICI in my twenties and we used a huge amount of metallic mercury in vacuum pumps and free mercury was being spilled all the time, it used to roll under the benches and fume cupboards and pump vapour there 24/7. There was an awful lot of mercury salts about the place as well, (and mixing flasks are easily dropped and broken). Although I was only there for a year, my exposure to atmospheric mercury vapour was probably more than the average person receives in a lifetime. Mercury poisons the kidneys in a big way, yet despite my exposure then, and 25 years of welding PVC sheet vinyl flooring I have zero kidney disease. This was checked when I was asked to be participant in a study as a regular blood donor (183 donations to date). My results were normal, and it’s here I would introduce the fact that my mouth is full of mercury amalgam as well (I am a baby boomer subjected to years of post war sugar assault).

    I was as concerned as you some years ago, and indeed had some of my amalgams replaced with plastic. When they failed (they are ok in the non-chewing teeth), then amalgam replaced them again.

    So Jimmy, here I am, 63 years old and entirely sanguine about my teeth so long as they are functional. Were I able to afford it I would have had gold, but I am a pragmatist, and frankly I have other things to consider as life threatening and mercury amalgam comes way down the list – like being 2500 feet above sea level in a hang glider this afternoon.

    Cheers,

    Mike.

  • S C D S

    Jimmy, curious, did your standard dentist not see the ‘problem teeth’ all this time? Also, in your opinion, are root canals suspect of health issues as well? If so, I am in deep trouble!

    • LLVLCBlog

      He wanted to do more root canals and crowns and $$$. No thanks. I think dental infection of any kind can I promise your overall health.

  • JennyPeez

    Im a dental assistant and the dentist I work for doesnt use mercury. He also doesnt charge a fortune. Didnt your hair analysis show no mercury? That bill sounds outrageous to me Jimmy when our patients pay cash we don’t screw them. You look like you are missing 3 teeth and will be missing 3 more. Most dentist will try to save teeth especially in 50 year old man. My dentist would make missing teeth a priority over changing fillings. I would get another opinion.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Appreciate your input.

  • Sabu137

    Best of luck with your dental adventure! Have you also interviewed Carol Vander Stoep? If not, you might give her book a looksee “Mouth Matters”. It looks like Dr Palmer (a GEM!) is using ozone, which even some biological dentists have not adopted yet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY7Ior5p960 Heck, you’ve interviewed so many people, you’ve probably interviewed her already!

    When it’s time for implants to replace some of those removals, you might consider dental tourism. With the right referrals, can be much more affordable. I can see you combining the cruise with the first appointment for some new molars.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Not yet, but I’ll look into the interview.

  • rdh_cvs

    Thanks for the plug on my book, “Mouth Matters”. A small segment of the
    book is give over to this subject. To reiterate, the “boats” carrying
    cholesterol to fix damaged blood vessel walls are the LDLs docs measure,
    particularly VLDLs (docs rarely measure). They are the symptom of a
    problem, not the problem. I point out that in only 50% of heart attacks
    are cholesterol levels high. High cholesterol levels are a symptom of
    inflammation characterized by vascular changes. Discover the root
    causes, then change them.You have to figure out what is damaging your
    blood vessel walls. Heavy metals are one reason. There are many other
    reasons I explore:
    1. Elevated homocysteine (generally in meat products)
    2. Lack of B-complex rich foods that could counterbalance homocysteine
    3. Damage from sugars (advanced glycation end products/AGEs)
    4.Transfats
    5. Prediabetes (Constant elevated insulin)
    6. High blood pressure
    7. Gum disease and all other oral infections such as cavitations, etc..
    8.
    APNEA!!! (elevated cortisol all night) Stress also belongs in that
    category. I strongly recommend folks tune in to this podcast as this is
    w-a-y overlooked!
    http://oneradionetwork.com/dental-healing/special-2-5-hour-show-carol-vander-stoep-control-your-breath-control-your-life-how-mouth-breathing-affects-everything-from-face-shape-jaw-development-sleep-growth-performance-and-most-everyth/
    9. Gum disease
    Stumbled onto this site, but hope this helps!
    Carol