We all know someone who has been affected by a life-altering illness like heart disease, breast cancer, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s. And yet, no one seems to understand why so many horrendous diseases are prevalent today or what causes them. Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, has a groundbreaking explanation: Nearly all degenerative diseases can be linked back to silent infections lurking in the teeth, gums, and tonsils. Even more amazing: A simple 3D X-ray can indicate the presence of these deadly diseases long before you become sick.
“Asymptomatic tooth infections are prevalent in most of the population, and these infections, along with infected tonsils and gums, cause the vast majority of heart attacks and cases of breast cancer,” says Dr. Levy, “Unfortunately, much of the medical community is not yet aware of the strong link between silent oral infections and these deadly diseases.”
To better treat these illnesses, Dr. Levy says we must recognize this important relationship and adopt better diagnostics using 3D X-rays.
Dr. Levy says that having a 3D X-ray (also called 3D cone beam imaging) is just as important as any other test you would have during a typical wellness exam, such as a cholesterol or glucose screening. That’s because, unlike a standard X-ray, 3D imaging provides an in-depth scan of the teeth, gums, and sinuses, and identifies hidden infections that are completely painless and symptom-free.
“Some infections in the mouth cause so much discomfort that patients must visit a dentist right away,” says Dr. Levy. “But because most infections in the mouth are symptom-free, they go unreported, undetected, and untreated until it’s too late and disease has set in. This is why it’s so important for 3D cone imaging to become a standard part of patient care. It detects danger before you know it’s there.”
Detection of these oral infections is key, because once identified, they can be treated in order to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, or a host of other illnesses from setting in.
Given that nearly all disease begins in the mouth, how can you prevent a deadly illness from “taking root” or mitigate a current disease? Here are five things Dr. Levy wants you to know in order to protect yourself.
All healthy and young people should get a baseline 3D X-ray… Young people and anyone NOT displaying acute symptoms of illness should have a baseline 3D X-ray as early as possible. Then, should any mysterious symptoms appear over the years, like chest pain, fatigue, arthritis pain, high blood pressure, or headaches, a record is available to compare against newer results and indicate the presence of new infections in the roots of the teeth.
…and sick people should get a current 3D X-ray ASAP to rule out oral infection. Whether you have already been diagnosed with a disease or you are simply developing worrisome symptoms, Dr. Levy advises seeking a 3D X-ray right away. Following the diagnosis, your results can be formally interpreted by your dentist, physician, or radiologist to either address or rule out dental apical infections that may be causing your symptoms.
“The number and frequency of 3D X-ray examinations vary depending on the patient,” says Dr. Levy. “Chronically ill patients who show stable or improving bloodwork may not require a follow-up examination, while patients who are getting sicker may need to periodically repeat the test.”
You may need to request a 3D X-ray (and pay for it) yourself. Dr. Levy explains that because few medical professionals currently appreciate the correlation between hidden infections in the mouth and disease, 3D X-ray imaging is not currently a standard diagnostic tool. So you may need to advocate for yourself by requesting a 3D X-ray on your own—and paying for it out of pocket. Many periodontists (implant specialists), endodontists (root canal specialists), and an increasing number of dentist offices currently utilize this diagnostic tool in their practices, so they are widely available.
“Three-dimensional cone beam imaging technology is a little pricey out of pocket, but the benefits to your long-term health far outweigh the costs,” says Dr. Levy. “A few hundred dollars is a very small price to pay for a diagnostic study that could save your life.”
Great oral hygiene with an emphasis on gum care minimizes your risk for infection. Dr. Levy says teeth and gum care are the best preventative measures against oral infections. Keep your teeth healthy and avoid decay by brushing twice a day. He also prefers using dental irrigation over flossing, as flossing can cause trauma to the gums.
“Water irrigation with a little hydrogen peroxide added is very effective at removing food particles from the gums and preventing infection,” says Dr. Levy. “Parents should get their children acclimated to this treatment as early as possible to build lifetime healthy gum habits.”
A healthy diet matters too. A healthy diet promotes healthy teeth and a strong immune system. So be sure to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables. And because sugar promotes tooth decay and can cause cavities, try to avoid sweets like candy, cookies, and soda as much as possible.
“More people than ever are taking ownership of their health, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time,” concludes Dr. Levy. “But until 3D cone beam imaging is an accepted part of everyone’s healthcare evaluation, it’s up to you to advocate for yourself and understand the importance of knowing what’s going on in your mouth. Being engaged in your own wellness can keep you informed, bring you peace of mind, and may even save your life someday.”