Mark Burhenne on the Oral Microbiome, Fluoride Use and How Your Mouth Can Heal Itself

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Katie: Hello and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s “wellness” with an “e” on the end. And this episode is about one of my favorite topics, which is oral health, with someone I’m very excited to chat with today. I’m here with Dr. Mark Burhenne, who is the creator and author at askthedentist.com. And he’s also the best-selling author of the “8-hour Sleep Paradox.” He is a family and sleep medicine dentist who appears a lot on TV, radio, and in magazines and media. And we get to go deep on a lot of fun topics today, including some of the big problems in current dental care modalities, the difference between functional dentistry and conventional dentistry, what the oral system connection is, and why what happens in your mouth affects your whole body. How 70+% of chronic disease has a connection in the mouth. The reason that many oral health products that you might be using can actually damage the oral microbiome and lead to long-term problems.

 

We touched on the very controversial topic of fluoride and why he is adamant that you should avoid it, especially in your children, including things like it can reduce IQ by as much as six to nine points, how the process of getting cavities is similar to the process of metabolic disease, what to know about root canals, why brushing and flossing are not the only answer, and why diet is actually more important, including some of the supplements that can be helpful.

 

And then we also talk about something called hydroxyapatite, which is the main ingredient in a toothpaste I formulated that’s available at Wellnesse. And we talk about the science of what makes this ingredient so unique and more beneficial than fluoride, as well as being completely safe. And we talk about the remineralization process and how hydroxyapatite can be very supportive of this remineralization process and of the oral microbiome. He’s such a wealth of knowledge. We’re definitely going to do a round two if you have specific questions, but I know you’ll enjoy this episode, and I will have links to a lot of the things we talk about in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm, as well as a link to that hydroxyapatite toothpaste, and charcoal toothpaste and soon, children’s toothpaste, so that your family can try them. But without any further ado, let’s join Dr. Mark. Dr. Mark, welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

 

Mark: Katie, I’m very excited. Thank you for having me on the podcast.

 

Katie: I’m so excited too. This has actually been a pet research topic for me for over a decade now. And I’ve read a lot of your work. And I’m so excited to get to really delve and go deep on some of these topics today. I feel like my audience is pretty well versed in some of the basics of this because I’ve been talking about oral health for so long. But I also feel like you have such cutting-edge info that you explain so clearly. And I want to make sure we get to kind of delve into all of these different topics.

 

To start broad, though, I feel like it’s worth it to build a foundation of maybe what are some of the things to be aware of that are not optimal in conventional dentistry as it stands right now, and perhaps even through the experience of going to most dentist and getting pushed things like mouthwash and fluoride. And I would love for you to just unpack some of these broad things, and then we’ll go deep on them.

 

Mark: Well, I’m glad we can talk about that. It’s one of my pet projects. But first of all, I wanted to thank you. And whenever someone’s talking and emphasizing oral health, I am just so excited. And I just want to reinforce that. So thank you for all the stuff you’ve done. I mean, obviously the toothpaste and fluoride-free toothpaste with hydroxyapatite. So all that oral research you’re doing and attention to oral health, thank you so much. Because part of the message at Ask a Dentist, our team at askadentist.com, is oral health. You can’t achieve overall good health without addressing your oral health.

 

And that kind of is what functional dentistry is all about. And that’s where conventional dentistry has kind of been, you know, tardy on. I mean, they’ve just kind of missed the boat. And again, when you come out of dental school in the U.S., you come out as a very skilled clinician. And we need skilled clinicians. I guess the analogy would be like Western medicine, as opposed to functional medicine or integrative, whatever you want to call it, holistic. You know, when you fall or you get involved in a car accident, I’m saying, we need Western medicine. We need great clinicians.

 

Same thing in dentistry, things happen to the mouth. We fall. You know, you’ve got kids. You know how often that can happen, especially boys. You know, they chip their teeth. The teeth fall out on the pavement as they’re falling off their bicycle. I’ve seen all of this. We need the clinicians. And we’re lucky in the U.S. because we have great training. We have some of the best dentists in the world. Some will say they are the best dentists. So that’s important. But again, one of my pet projects, and we have a directory on our website, and I talk about it almost constantly, is this concept of functional dentistry. And, you know, we can do a deep dive on it if you want. It’s more of a global approach and it includes overall systemic health.

 

There’s this oral systemic connection where what happens in the mouth can affect the body. I think it’s something like 70% of chronic diseases are related to oral health or have a oral bug, you know, bacteria from the mouth, involved in the mechanism of that chronic disease. I mean, it really is a big player and it doesn’t get a lot of attention. One of the reasons is that medicine and dentistry, there’s a big schism. They parted ways, I think, in 1839. And so a lot of physicians don’t know a lot about oral health. A lot of dentists, unfortunately, don’t know about overall health. And because they’re so well connected, and this is where functional dentistry comes in, it makes that connection. One of the principles of functional dentistry is collaboration between a perhaps a functional MD, but I work with a lot of conventional MDs as well, and a dentist.

 

I mean, gum disease contributes to CRP. I’ve worked with cardiologists before. In fact, I had a cardiologist call me and just chat me up for about an hour because he wanted to learn a lot because what he found out is that he was treating a patient with stents and had chronic heart disease, cardiovascular stuff going on, and CRP was high. But what he didn’t know is that, and what I knew as a dentist, was that the CRP was elevated because the patient had gum disease. So here he is trying to bring down CRP with all the things that he can do, not knowing that periodontal disease was a big contributor and, of course, gum disease. There’s a connection between gum disease and heart disease.

 

So that’s one of the big principles of a functional dentist is that they see the mouth, they don’t treat it or work in a vacuum, they see the big picture. You know, there’s so many connections between oral disease and systemic disease. And it’s called the oral systemic connection. So, functional dentistry, you don’t get this in school. It may be mentioned, currently. Back in my day, it was never mentioned.

 

The only connection that was mentioned in dental school was if a patient comes in with rheumatic heart disease or some scar tissue in the heart, you have to pre-medicate them because after a cleaning, the bugs can get into the blood supply, which is typical, it’s called the bacteremia. And it’s safe if you’re healthy. And it can settle out on that heart tissue, and you can die from that. So you would pre-medicate the patient. That was about as much of an oral systemic kind of connection that you would get in dental school.

 

And so, you know, it’s also talking about the oral microbiome, facial development. I mean, toxins that dentists are putting into mouths. It’s being against fluoride and knowing that fluoride can affect the fetal brain. So that’s functional dentistry. And you can see I get all excited about just talking about it, right?

 

Katie: Yeah, and I definitely do too. As I started doing a deep dive on this, it really blew my mind how there was actually so much evidence that kind of was in the face of what a lot of what is talked about in conventional dentistry. And so, I’d love to start going kind of line by line and picking apart some of these things.

 

Let’s start with the oral microbiome. Because I think most people are well versed in at least the idea of a gut microbiome and the gut-brain connection and how our gut impacts all aspects of health. This has been talked about a lot. And I feel like the oral microbiome is starting to be understood a little bit and talked about, but it’s still definitely not anywhere near as well known. So talk to us a little bit about the oral microbiome and how it’s so important.

 

Mark: Yeah, thank you. The oral microbiome, it’s huge. It’s very important. And unfortunately, to get it to be more known, we kind of ride the coattails of the gut microbiome. And you’re right, most people know and have heard about the gut microbiome, not everyone is up to speed on it. They don’t know what to do about it.

 

But what they don’t understand is that there are a lot of biomes throughout the body. You know, the armpit has a biome. There’s a vaginal biome. There’s a nasal biome. There’s probably a brain microbiome, they’re saying now. So we’re a bunch of these biomes, these communities of bugs. The bugs outnumber our actual DNA. And they’re all communicating with each other. That gut is the big one. The oral microbiome is considered to be second in size. I don’t want to say importance. We don’t want to go there because they’re all important. But in terms of size, and contributory kind of emphasis or mechanism, it’s huge because it’s in front of the gut microbiome. It’s upstream.

 

It’s the headwaters. As my friend and researcher Cass Nelson-Dooley would say, who wrote a great book. I can give you a link for that. What I think is probably the best first book to go to on oral microbiome, whether you’re a provider or a practitioner or a lay person. It’s important to understand, and she explains it very well, that the oral microbiome, which has many niches, you know, the tongue, the tonsils, the nasal, I would consider that to be part of the oral microbiome as well, all of that is linked directly to the gut microbiome.

 

And it does what the gut microbiome does. It’s important for immune defense, processing things, producing things like nitric oxide. And these bacteria, like in the gut produce, you know, different vitamins, same thing in the mouth, given the chance. But the oral microbiome is in that pole position and is susceptible to the mouth being open and all the things that we put in our mouth. I think the gut microbiome is a little bit more insulated. It’s way downstream. It’s dark. You know, by the time stuff comes in through the gut, it’s been processed a little bit.

 

That’s not so in the mouth. We can talk about that later, like toothpastes, and detergents, and soaps, and pesticides, and mouthwashes. And, you know, by the time that stuff gets to the gut, it may have an effect, but the mouth gets the brunt of it. But the oral microbiome is this combination of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast cells. Some of them are really bad. You’ve heard of them before – Strep mutans, E. Pylori, the one that causes ulcers, Candida. And they’re all there. They’re all there. But they’re there for a reason because they do all the things I just mentioned.

 

But the minute that they start becoming more pathogenic, and that happens because the populations grow and outnumber and push out, they become more pathogenic. They push out the more commensal bacteria and the commensal bacteria are the ones that are trying to get along and work parties to produce this stuff like nitric oxide and immune defense and remineralization of teeth, the oral microbiome is responsible for that as well, which protects the teeth. That’s what the oral microbiome does.

 

But the minute those bacteria, even good ones that become too dominant but certainly the bad ones, then all hell breaks loose. And then it leads to oral health issues: oral disease, gum disease, cavities, all of these things. So very similar to the gut microbiome. It’s interconnected. It feeds to it. There could be a two-way link. We’re not sure about that. The link upstream and how it affects the gut is very well known. Of course, there are a lot of details that are not known.

 

And there’s very little, I mean, when it comes…we understand it. We’ve identified it. We’ve identified all the bugs. There are about 700 species in the mouth, but we don’t know what to do with it. And that’s something else we can talk about it. And everyone has a different oral microbiome. There’s a lot of variation between people. That’s the other complicating factor. So again, it’s this organism that, I don’t like to say it’s hitching a ride, other practitioners will say that, I would say that we are a super organism. And it’s a combination of our human DNA, and all this other stuff that’s in the gut, in the armpit, in the hair, the scalp, and all that. And if it works well together, it’s an amazing super organism.

 

Katie: That’s such a great explanation. And I think that really helps hone in on the idea of this bacterial balance, which then brings the question of, part of this equation of oral health is not just cavity focus, which is where I feel like the conversation can often get caught up in traditional dentistry. Like, I’ve heard it explained that there’s this whole balance of bacteria. And when you have one out of balance, you could get cavities. You might have another one that’s out of balance that leads to gingivitis. And it’s not about spot treating the bacteria, just like in medicine, functional medicine. It’s not about spot-treating a symptom. It’s about figuring out this holistic balance.

 

And I think this brings up the question of then, what are some of the common practices that people are doing that are actually, like, very overtly disrupting this gut bacteria? I know, there’s a lot of directions we could go here. But I would love to touch on specifically, maybe some ingredients in regular toothpaste, mouthwash, and fluoride, especially, which is, I know a little bit of a controversial one, but I think a really important one, especially when we’re talking to moms.

 

Mark: Yeah. And the brain health of fetuses and infants certainly, we’ll end with that. Yeah, so you’re right. The oral microbiome is there. It’s important. It’s complex. But as it turns out, for decades, actually centuries, dentistry, and the companies that provide oral health products, I’m not going to pick on anyone, the one person I want to not blame is the end user, you know, the patient, because, as a profession, we’ve been pushing all these products that actually are damaging the oral microbiome.

 

So now that we know about the oral microbiome, in reflection, in retrospect, if you’re willing to look back and learn from our mistakes, all this stuff that’s being sold to us, it’s snake oil, it really is. I’m talking about Colgate, Crest, GSK, Glaxo Klein. I mean, these are big mega corporations, and I don’t have any problems with corporations. But like big food, big oral health product corporations have been making these products without any evidence that it works. In fact, it’s actually damaging and harming the oral microbiome.

 

So, for example, let’s take a typical mouthwash with alcohol in it. Some have… Basically, it’s an ingredient that’s found in pesticides. We’ve got triclosan, which is finally been banned, but not in all cases, that was found in soaps. These are all very strong…and even essential oils. It depends on the essential oil and the concentration. But these are all products that these companies are adding to mouthwash, toothpaste. They try and get into floss. I mean, they’re adding it to everything because it’s part of their marketing. And dentists are behind it. And they’re saying, “Disinfect the mouth, carpet bomb the mouth.” And that was even before we knew that the oral microbiome was important.

 

We knew that there were infections in the mouth and the infection theory is that a bug can cause this. Well, why not either knock it out with antibiotics? Which is what physicians do. Dentists will use antibiotics as well or disinfect it daily or twice daily with alcohol and all these detergents and emulsifiers even can break apart the cell wall of any cell, the good cells, I mean, the bad bacteria, the good bacteria.

 

And so, we’ve been on this bandwagon for a long time. And now that we know that the oral microbiome is important, we understand that carpet bombing the mouth is not a good thing. So specific ingredients, I mentioned some of them, triclosan, alcohol, certainly, even some essential oils, you know, like cinnamon is the strongest. And if there’s too much of it, that is bactericidal.

 

Even emulsifiers, soaps, that’s how soap works. It breaks down the cell wall of a bacteria. It breaks it apart. Once that integrity is gone, the cell is done with. It’s a mild way of being bactericidal. But triclosan certainly isn’t. And triclosan was wiping out all sorts of other biomes and creating disease. So, I apologize as a dentist. I mean, I figured this out 15, 20 years ago. It never made sense to me. But then the oral microbiome, which is a recent discovery, I would say after the year 2000, that’s kind of when we started, you know, quantifying it. And then putting the two together, we’ve got to start making changes in oral health products.

 

And the good news is that it’s available in the U.S. Companies like you, Wellnesse. I mean, these are the boutique brands that I support, that I tell people about, because it makes a big difference in terms of overall health. So if you’re knocking down the oral microbiome, you are basically going to predispose yourself to oral health issues, serious ones. And given what I said about the oral systemic connection, then that means you’re damaging your whole body. You’re predisposing yourself to systemic chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s in time. There’s that connection between what happens in the mouth and what can get into the brain from periodontal disease.

 

So most mouthwashes, and we have studies, there’s a few great studies. I was looking at one yesterday for another project I’m working on, where an alcohol-based mouthwash basically increases your blood pressure. The reason for that is because it affects the bacteria that produce the nitric oxide. And nitric oxide is a basal dilator. And after age 40, you really only get that from the bacteria in your mouth. Because, before you’re 40, it comes from other sources. But as you age, you only get that from production of the mouth. Well, if you kill those bacteria, then your blood pressure goes up. I mean, come on, let’s stop promoting these, you know, and buying stuff. We can all vote with our dollar and buy the right product.

 

So, for example, taking out fluoride out of toothpaste is a wonderful thing. We now have over, I think it’s over… Well, I think it’s more now. But last year, it was over 64 studies on how fluoride affects the fetal brain, an infant’s brain, lowers their IQ. It causes all sorts of problems, not just that. It affects the mitochondria in the brain. I can go on with that.

 

And it also isn’t great for teeth. Forty-one percent of kids in the U.S. have fluorosis. That’s where the teeth are crumbling and are more susceptible to decay. And that’s because of too much fluoride intake. And that’s ingestion of fluoride. I’m not talking about topical application of fluoride. That’s not something I’m fond of, but that’s something different. And I don’t want to bunch the whole, all of them together, because that would be misinformation.

 

So yeah, thank God we’ve got companies like you, you know. There are others, of course, what I call these boutique brands. And as an oral health influencer, I’m behind you guys 100%. Because this is something we need. This protects our kids. It protects all of us. It promotes good oral health. Essentially, it allows the oral microbiome to do its job.

 

Katie: Yeah. And I think the fluoride one is an especially important one to go into just because it has been, not just pushed, but I’ve been overtly told by dentist that not using fluoride was going to cause long-term damage to my children. And I did a lot of research on this. I’d love to kind of explore some of the other potential downstream issues of, I would say, overuse of fluoride, which is what we’re encountering today now that it’s in the water supply in many places.

 

But for my research, at least, you can have thyroid complications downstream, especially for developing kids. There’s actually a lot of research looking at the internal effects of this. And we talked about it offline. Even if we can make a case for fluoride potentially having benefit directly in the mouth, there actually is no evidence that I’ve ever seen that it’s internally helpful. And there’s evidence that it could be internally harmful. So I use the analogy of it’s like if you cut your arm and you try to eat band-aids to fix it.

 

But I’d love to hear your just kind of explain any other potential, like physiological problems with this. And let’s talk about alternatives as well. Because I think it’s well intentioned at least. We do want teachers to be strong. We want enamel to be strong. Nobody’s arguing with those things. I just know, you and I have talked about, there’s better ways to get there than just fluoride.

 

Mark: Right. No, you’re absolutely right. And it is well intentioned. And dentistry, I mean, it’s a great profession, and we are very well intentioned. But we’re also misinformed. And as far as systemic ingestion of fluoride and how it benefits us, it’s all correlation. And it’s funny because the opponents to, you know, people like me or dentists that are against fluoride, they say that our studies are also based on correlation.

 

And I’m not going to argue that point, but if we want to go back and forth and say that both sides are, you know, basing their evidence on correlation, fine. And that doesn’t get us anywhere, but the studies now are pretty conclusive. There is a problem with ingesting fluoride. And remember, fluoride… Okay, so let’s say, so you bring your kid in to see a dentist, and they get this fluoride varnish. That’s after the cleaning. This is a varnish that’s painted onto the teeth. It has extremely high levels of fluoride, even more than the prescription-strength tube that we prescribe to adults, way more than what’s in the water. I mean, I’m talking about, don’t quote me on this, but like thousands more X in terms of strength.

 

And this can’t, it gets ingested. There’s no kid in the world, there’s no 4 or 5-year-old, that’s not going to swallow this. And it also gets absorbed through the oral mucosa. The oral mucosa, like a leaky gut, is leaky. I mean, that’s how homeopathic medicines are absorbed. That’s how people take their melatonin. They put it on the floor of their mouths, and it gets absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream.

 

So these fluoride varnishes are being absorbed, and it goes right to the brain, for example. Yes, there are thyroid issues. There are bone density issues, hip fractures. I mean, there are a lot of studies. But the ones I like to focus on are the ones that cause neurotoxicity of the brain because we’ve got so many good studies, and they all agree. I mean, isn’t that enough evidence? And again, when I raised my three daughters, and this is before I knew all this, this was 35 years ago, this was my lesser-of two-evil argument, which I fall back on often. Fluoride didn’t make sense to me back then.

 

I have a little fluorosis. I grew up in San Francisco, fluoridated water supply. I got cavities, didn’t seem to work for me. Of course, my diet wasn’t good and there are other factors we can talk about what the root cause is of decay, tooth decay. But this fluoride is actually damaging children’s teeth. Okay, we can fix that. But we can’t fix their brains. And the fluoride passes across the blood brain barrier and dumbs your kid down. That’s not something we want to do. And we’re talking about six to eight, maybe nine IQ points.

 

I would caution any parents saying that, thinking that that’s not a big change. That is a huge change. Research it. Inform yourself on that. It could take your kid into a whole different category. And I don’t want to go there because it’s very daunting. And I think it gets to be a little shaming, because a lot of people have raised their kids with fluoride, and I don’t want them to feel bad. But if you’re planning on getting pregnant, or if you are pregnant, or if you have young children, stay away from fluoride, even topical fluoride, even in toothpaste. And the beauty is that we have a great alternative. We’ve got hydroxyapatite, like what’s in your toothpaste.

 

This stuff works as well, if not better. It can be swallowed. Even the nano size can be swallowed. There’s a lot of controversy there. Because it dissolves, it’s just calcium, hydroxyapatite, which is biomimetic. It’s what’s the tooth is using to produce itself.

 

Katie: I’m so glad you brought that up. Because I feel like that part is almost never talked about, even though we are seeing definitely that evidence. And you’re right, that doesn’t maybe seem like a big number. But it absolutely is and can be a huge difference for kids, especially in school and as their brains are developing. And as you said, it’s not that we have no alternatives. If you’re going to weigh the risks and benefits, there are other things that have more benefit without the downside.

 

And I’m so fascinated by this science of kind of the interaction of the saliva with minerals, and this whole amazing thing that happens in the mouth. I know when I first started reading about remineralization, it blew my mind because that was not something that’s ever been presented by conventional dentistry. But it makes sense to me that the body’s natural state is to be in health, and it wants to move toward that state. And I find out more and more in this world that it’s often getting out of the body’s way. Not that we have to do anything extreme to help the body do what it naturally does.

 

So let’s talk about the idea of remineralization. I know a lot of people maybe even haven’t heard of this or if they have, are maybe skeptical that it’s actually possible. But I kind of also use the analogy of like, we know bones can heal. There’s obviously different process in place there. But the body has these amazing mechanisms. So talk to us about remineralization.

 

Mark: Well, very well said, and I’m so glad you think it’s cool because it is totally cool. And the body does have mechanisms where it’s trying to fix itself on the fly. And this is a perfect example. So, in simple terms, there is demineralization and there’s remineralization. Demineralization is the part of the equilibrium where your tooth is headed towards getting a cavity. The calcium in your tooth, hydroxyapatite, there’s phosphorus, there’s boron. There are other minerals. Enamel is 96%, hydroxyapatite, maybe 97%. And that’s why it’s the hardest substance in the body.

 

And of course, the tooth evolved to be something very functional. It allows us to digest our food, right? I mean, how important is that? Well, all mammals have teeth. And the shape of the teeth is very carefully evolved to the point where we can break down food, for example, break down meat. And so that when it gets to the gut, we can extract the essence of that nutrition from that food. And so tooth anatomy is also fascinating. I’d recommend you pick up or research online tooth anatomy and how each cusp is designed to mesh with the opposing tooth and what it’s actually breaking down and squashing. And it’s fascinating.

 

And then you get all the enzymes in the saliva that breaks down the food. Digestion starts in the mouth. And if you can’t digest your food in the mouth, if you’re a quick eater, can’t chew properly, or, even worse, you don’t have teeth, it shortens your life. We know this. And that’s one of the mechanisms there. But essentially, it is possible to reverse a cavity. And because we can feed that equilibrium. We can guide or stabilize that equilibrium. Unfortunately, in today’s world, with the Western diet, the SAD diet, whatever you want to call it, we have all these processed foods. It’s not a natural diet.

 

Let’s take breakfast cereal. My least favorites are breakfast cereal. It doesn’t matter. It can be Cheerios, which a lot of people think is healthy. Let’s pick on Cheerios. And, Cheez Its or crackers, you know, Goldfish, okay. So no sugar, most parents will think, “Okay. That’s fine.” But if you break that down, this is a highly refined carbohydrate. And when the bacteria, the oral microbiome, sees it in the mouth, it goes to town. It can consume a lot of it. It can break it down, and then the pH levels decrease. Their excrement, the bacteria, when they feed on this unnatural diet, which has been processed, which the body has never seen in terms of evolution. It’s just not used to it. It’s a complete mismatch.

 

The same thing with diabetes, classic example in terms of mismatch with what our evolution is used to seeing or has tried to evolve to over billions of years, in the last few 100 years, we’ve got all this crap out there. And lo and behold, the teeth are always demineralizing quicker than they can remineralize. So we’ve upset that equilibrium by eating what? You know, it’s not about flossing and brushing. It may not necessarily be a sugary snack that you have once in a blue moon. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a treat. But eating these foods all day long, which most of us do in America, especially in the food deserts. That’s all that’s available, which is so sad.

 

Again, cavities, the process of getting a cavity is very similar to metabolic syndrome. It’s the same thing. Diabetes. It really is based on our diet. And this is creating an epidemic. It’s one of the most common, I think, it is the most common disease in the world, cavities, getting cavities. But most of us, because we’ve grown up with them and that our kids get them… And, you know, I always love the moms that cry when I tell them that their kid has a cavity. I love them dearly because they get it. They understand it. The other parents are like, “Okay. Well, how much? I’ll make an appointment. We’ll get them all filled,” right? I mean, they get it because that is not the norm.

 

And it is a loss of body, of tooth structure, and it’s sad because then the filling goes in. The filling has issues. There are metal fillings, mercury, even plastic fillings, BPA, BPA free, it doesn’t matter. And then they have to be replaced every 10 to 20 years. I mean, that’s a sad place to get to. But it can be prevented and you can reverse decay. This is what a functional dentist would look at. Hopefully, the functional dentists would educate you from the day you bring in your infant, which should be right away, I think. And with all this good counseling, there will never be the need to fill a cavity. The best dentistry is no dentistry, right?

 

Katie: Yeah, I love that you brought up the connection of cavities being similar to a metabolic disease process because I feel like this is an important point to understand with that whole body connection to the mouth. And often, we think of the mouth is this isolated system of its own. And truly, it is all very, very interconnected.

 

I know I was fascinated to read the work of people like Weston A. Price, who looked at these populations around the world who eat essentially much more nutrient-dense diets than we do in the modern world. And he was surprised to find, and I think we would all be surprised, they did not have cavities. They did not have orthodontic issues. Their jaw structure was entirely different. Which brings that question of, would the internal environment of the body directly impacts the mouth and vice versa? And I think there’s so many cool things to unpack there.

 

I know we’re going to get questions. I’m going to circle back to a couple of these topics. But I know we’re also going to get questions about root canals. Because anytime I talk about anything to do with dentistry, people bring this up. And I love how you approached fluoride. And the goal here is obviously not to shame anyone or to make anyone feel bad for any decision they’ve made. But just to educate and bring awareness. So I think there’s a lot to understand, maybe start broad with us, of when root canals are often used, if they’re needed, if there are better alternatives, and what to do if you’ve already had one.

 

Mark: Great question. Root canals are very controversial. I’m not against root canals. I think that surprises a lot of people, especially when they see my stance on fluoride and other things, diet and the functional approach. I actually have a root canal. It was because I had a terrible diet. I got a cavity so quickly that it involved the pulp. When a cavity gets big enough, it will kill the nerve and the blood supply inside the tooth.

 

Now, this is a tooth that I could have had extracted because it’s probably the least important tooth in the mouth, not including wisdom teeth. It’s an upper second molar. By taking that tooth out. There’s no big change in bite, and there’s really no loss of function. But let’s say you fall on your front tooth and it dies. It gets pulpitis. It gets irreversible pulpitis. This is the name for the death of the pulp of the tooth that becomes infected. That infection can take you down. People died in the 15th, 16th, 1700’s, that’s when recorded dental history started, from infections like that. And so, obviously, that’s not good.

 

Well, then you can have the tooth taken out. Hopefully, you can take it out safely. But then what are you faced with? You’re missing a front tooth. You’re missing a cuspid, for example, a canine, very important tooth in terms of, you know, stabilizing the bite and helping the bite, go into circular motions and stabilizing the bite during chewing motions. These are important teeth. And without them, you’re not better off. You’re going to suffer.

 

And then, of course, if you lose a lot of teeth, then your self-esteem will suffer. Your chewing ability will suffer, as I alluded to earlier. You may shorten your lifespan. Also, your healthspan certainly will suffer because you need teeth. Teeth are important. Then the alternative now, thank goodness, is we have implants. Implants are not perfect. There is an immune response to implants. That’s a dead piece of, you know, metal in your mouth. A lot of people say root canal is a dead piece of tissue in your mouth.

 

Well, they don’t understand the anatomy of a tooth. The living tissue inside the tooth is removed. Whether that tooth is alive or not, it doesn’t matter. And again, I’m assuming a correctly, properly done root canal, which is not always the case. I’m always assuming. There’s a very well-known health influencer, who I respect a lot, who was against root canals. And he fell off a horse and cracked the tooth. Broke a lot of other bones and all that, had the root canal done. It was in a foreign country. And then it failed and it caused him a lot of harm for the next two, three, four years. He was given clindamycin that caused kind of colitis and gut issues. And it all went bad from there.

 

What happened there wasn’t the root canal. And this is what that movie from Australia also… What was it called? Root Cause, which was taken off of Netflix. Thank goodness. The root canals in Root Cause and the root canal for this influencer were done on fractured teeth. And fractured teeth, that’s the outside of the tooth, that becomes a problem because the bacteria seeped in there. And then over time, it will cause this huge immune response. It’ll elevate your CRP, your inflammatory levels, and then start seeding bacteria through the oral systemic connection into your organs, your brain, and cause problems.

 

Yes, root canals can do that. Is that a reason not to keep taking teeth out after they get damaged, or if you’ve had bad advice and didn’t know? Like me, I was eating a healthy snack from Japan. It was a puffed rice. Now I know that was not a healthy…it didn’t have industrial seed oils in it. But back then, 20 years ago, I ate that every day at lunch thinking it was healthy. That actually caused a cavity and it was aggressive and I didn’t address it soon enough. And it caused the death of this tooth. Well, I didn’t want to lose the tooth.

 

Now, if a tooth is cracked, there’s no root canal in the world that will save that. Because anatomically you cannot seal off that area and that tooth needs to be extracted. And then get an implant done, maybe a zirconia implants instead of a metal implant, that’s a different conversation. In my case, I wouldn’t have just take the tooth out. I would not replace it because of its position and its importance.

 

But a poorly done root canal that’s not filled properly or completely to the very end of the canal, bacteria will seep in there. A cracked tooth will fail. If the seal is not robust, if the accessory canals are not addressed. And there are people, there are incredible endodontists that are doing this. There’s one in LA that is amazing. She is absolutely amazing. They use ozone. You can disinfect and sterilize the inside of a tooth enough where the fibers that come out from the jawbone and grab onto the tooth are completely unaffected. They don’t know any difference. They really don’t know any difference. They still think it’s a tooth. They’ve grabbed on to it. It’s still sitting inside the socket, and it can still be used. Yes, the tooth will desiccate. It is more prone to fracture over time. But it is an efficacious safe procedure if it’s done properly.

 

Now, this is something that a functional dentist would recommend is CRP levels. Get your CRP checked yearly. Get a CBT scan. That’s a three-dimensional X-ray. I don’t like X-rays. But if you have a root canal, and you want to keep it, you need to have that checked. Conventional X-rays… You may not even have any pain, but that root canal is failing. That is a problem you need to know.

 

Every five years, get this cone beam, three-dimensional X-ray. And it will tell you if the body’s rejecting that tooth. If it is, maybe you can retreat it. Retreating is very difficult, 50% odds on that, then you have to have it taken out. And I also tell patients if they’re wondering if you tap on the tooth, you can tap on your teeth. And if the tooth is tender, that’s a sign that the root canal is failing.

 

So a poorly done root canal, fractured tooth, like the examples I gave, and overtime, sometimes root canals can become a big deal. Absolutely. And so that’s my take on root canals.

 

Katie: Yeah, I think that’s a really comprehensive explanation. And I think this is a scary topic for a lot of people because anytime we’re talking about the potential loss of a tooth, it feels extremely scary. But it’s great to know that there is kind of a good flowchart of options of what to do in that situation.

 

I think a lot of this goes back to the idea of just being an informed patient. I’ve said this, when it comes to medicine as well is we are each our own primary healthcare provider. We’re certainly also each our own primary dental care provider because we’re the ones taking care of our teeth on a daily basis. And the best outcomes happen when you have an informed patient working with an informed practitioner toward a desired outcome. And that starts with us being informed and taking that responsibility. And I love that people like you help that process be much more possible in today’s world.

 

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I’d also love to talk a little bit about the breathing aspect of this because this is a newer area. Maybe some people have heard out there. There have been books about nose breathing versus mouth breathing, and some of the physiological consequences of that. But this is also really important when it comes to oral health, and I think especially in kids. So I would love for you to give us a primer on how breathing affects oral health, and then what we need to know and what we can do about it.

 

Mark: This is a huge aspect of functional dentistry, maybe one of the biggest. I mean, it’s all good. Oral microbiome is important, oral systemic connection, all very important. But the reason I say this about breathing is that dentists are on the front line, literally. We can catch this in a one-month-old, if we see him. And I do recommend bringing in your kid as soon as you’re able. In other words, once you, you know, get them home, and hopefully they’ve latched on, and that’s the time to bring them to dentist. They’re not going to get a cleaning. But at least the dentist can check for a tongue-tie and we’ll talk about that.

 

Anyway, it’s important because that early diagnosis of not being able to breathe through their nose, again, I’ll expand on that. The presence of a tongue-tie, the inability of the child to breastfeed, all of that, if addressed soon, essentially determines the destiny of their whole life. And I’m not exaggerating. I mean their personality, how they’re able to work, how they’re able to help others, being a good family member, a good partner, I mean, a good parent, all of that gets determined by how well you sleep. And that directly is affected by how we breathe.

 

I want to recommend a good friend of mine, James Nestor, wrote the book, “Breath.” I would recommend that everyone read that book. That is one of my favorite recent healthcare books because it… And leave it to a healthcare journalist. Because, you know, doctors were totally handicapped, right? We can’t explain anything to patients because we’ve gotten the scientific explanation. And it’s hard for us to water that down.

 

And even though that’s what the meaning of doctor is, from the Latin root to teach, that’s what doctoring is. And so, our first role is to teach. And we’re all pretty lousy at it, sorry. But that’s because of our education. And so leave it to someone like James Nestor to explain it so well. And I’ve recommended that book to so many people. And they all come back and say, “Gosh, I get it now.”

 

So nasal breathing is coming online. It’s having its moment, thank goodness, because it’s been under appreciated for so long. I just found out about it, I want to say, about 12 years ago. And then I wrote a little bit about it in my book on sleep apnea five years later. And now, in retrospect, there should be more about it, but at least it’s having its moment.

 

So, if your child is mouth breathing, they already are suffering neurological conditions, behavioral conditions are coming, a lot of oral health issues. Their decay rate is going to be high. When you mouth breathe constantly, you are drying out your mouth. Then the saliva or lack of it, cannot buffer the acid attacks from eating Goldfish. Hopefully, they’re not eating Goldfish. Hopefully, they’re eating pureed, you know, ground meat or carrots or something, right, at home done by mom or dad or caretaker.

 

So, essentially, that can be addressed early. It can be a result of tongue-tie, congestion, or environment, lack of breastfeeding. It can be facial development. It can be sippy cups, as opposed to pacifiers, all of these things. That lower face is so malleable. The bone is like a very stiff clay. And if the tongue position is not in the correct position, and the muscles and the swallow reflex is not working the way it should, because of, for example, a tongue-tie, then that face is going to develop into a person that has sleep apnea.

 

And the sleep apnea starts at age 1, at age 6 months. You’ve seen little kids’ snore. You think that’s boogers coming out of their nose. They’re sick. They’re irritable. They don’t sleep well. And then that can be addressed very early on by dentists. I always tell people that are interested that dentists are able to diagnose… We’re not officially allowed to diagnose sleep apnea, but we’re able to screen for and see sleep apnea decades before a physician can. And it’s no fault of the physician. It’s just because we’ve been trained in this area, where physicians really considered this area to be a little black box that they weren’t given any information about in medical school.

 

So, mouth breathing is key. If you don’t breathe through your nose, you’re not breathing properly, you’re not mixing your O2 and CO2. Breathing properly is not all about oxygen. It’s about the mix between the two. In fact, I would argue that CO2 concentration in your lungs and in your blood, oxygen and CO2 get into the blood, is more important for lowering your breathing rate, stabilizing breathing rate, affecting your sympathetic response, making you nervous and fired up. I mean, breathing affects so many parts of your life.

 

So to simplify it, and it’s a little overwhelming for people, that’s why I recommend the book. Start there. Read the book and understand and appreciate. You’ll appreciate how important nose breathing is at any age. And if you can address it as early as possible, that’s what a good pediatric or a good functional dentist can do. Go all out. That is so important. And then you won’t get gum disease. You won’t get cavities if you breathe through your nose.

 

Katie: And I’ve experimented with mouth taping just from the sleep perspective, and I noticed a big difference. It seemed like this would be a tougher thing to maybe get kids to be able to do, especially if they already have some kind of obstruction there. But it’s definitely something I’ve looked into a lot with my kids and how can I help their palate expand, help them have better nasal breathing structure from an early age while their face is still developing. And I’m really excited that this seems to be an emerging area of industry.

 

There’s just starting to be so many more options available for this. I also know that you’ve talked about cavities not being a disease of hygiene, but a disease of metabolic, so what we’re eating. And I’d love to go deeper on this and talk about what are some of the best ways to nourish the body for oral health and when is the time for supplements and which ones would you recommend?

 

Mark: That’s a great question. And there’s been a great book written about it. I think you interviewed Dr. Steven Lin, “The Dental Diet.” That’s a great place to start. Yeah, I do believe that. I rank the reasons for decay. Number one is dry mouth. I’ll get into that. Number two is diet. So those are the two big ones. And most people are shocked at this point, because, you know, they see number three is being biofilm management, flossing and brushing. And when they go see a regular dentist, that’s typically the number one reason. We’re shamed into thinking, “Oh, you’ve got a cavity, well, you didn’t do a good job at home.”

 

That’s not the root cause. The root cause is this processed diet that the body hasn’t seen in its millions of years of evolution. It’s only seen it in the last few seconds. If you take the whole timeline of evolution, in only the last few seconds of our existence. And it’s a complete mismatch. It’s not used to it. The oral microbiome is thrown out of whack.

 

We talked earlier about how the oral microbiome… I didn’t touch on it enough but you asked about it. The oral microbiome is in charge of producing a pellicle, a biofilm, or a plaque layer on the tooth. The tooth is an inanimate object that comes through the jawbone. It’s the only example of this in the body. And inanimate objects in the body are covered with a biofilm. That biofilm is part of the oral microbiome. And it’s pulling calcium and building blocks for remineralization out of saliva. And it’s putting it in the right place so that your teeth will stay intact.

 

But then this food comes along that it’s just never seen. And it can’t keep up. Because the bacteria can eat more of it. It can consume it. And because of that, because it’s so readily available and broken down and processed, and a lot of things are taken out, like fiber, like in grains and the hull and the kernel and all that. Then your teeth are always demineralizing. That’s why fasting is so good. Because, you know, it’s one less meal you have to worry about with an acid attack. You know, hopefully you’re eating good food.

 

So the right diet, let’s get right to it. You know, it’s paleo. I know that ticks off a lot of vegetarians. It’s very difficult to have to prevent decay being a vegetarian because a vegetarian diet is high in carbohydrates. You know, one of my daughters is vegetarian. And I’m always trying to hack her diet. You know, I got her to start taking krill oil, because that’s high in vitamin K2 and other things and the omega fatty acids, which are all important for tooth health. And that’s one of the supplements I recommend.

 

So really, you need to stay away from anything that’s in a bag. Short story is stay away from the center aisles of the grocery store. You know, go right and left. Get the meats and fish and the vegetables and certainly some fruit is fine. It’s a diet-related disease. And so are all the other diseases. Why wouldn’t the number one disease in the world be diet-related? It makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, dentistry is kind of been slow to pointing to that as a root cause.

 

And you get this in the fluoride debate. It’s like, “Well, fluoride will fix all this.” Well, it hasn’t. Decay is actually going up. It’s not going down. And we fluoridated back in the ’60s and we’ve added fluoride to all sorts of products and foods and all that. So it is definitely food.

 

Dry mouth, you know, maybe it’s dry mouth and food together, certainly a combination. I put dry mouth up there because a lot of us have dry mouth, where 50% of us are mouth breathing. We’re taking meds that dry our mouths, that decrease saliva flow as we get older, of course. And we are able to get older because of Western medicine, thank you very much, than our ancestors, I mean. But saliva flow drops. Saliva flow drops at night when you sleep with your mouth open.

 

Tongue-ties are on the rise so that we can’t nose breathe properly. So dry mouth is a big deal. Don’t underestimate dry mouth. Dry mouth, without saliva, there’s no chance of remineralization, pH levels drop, the acid levels stay high, and your teeth are dissolving. So, diet is huge. And then the last thing on that list… So it was number one was dry mouth, right after that diet. And then quite a bit down from there, in terms of importance, is flossing and brushing. You know, I get a lot of flak for that. But if you eat a paleo diet, if you eat a carnivore diet, you don’t have to floss and brush. I mean, our ancestors didn’t floss and brush. Now I’m not against toothpaste. I think toothpaste is important.

 

There are certain things that I enjoy in my diet that I know are causing an acid attack. We’ve got coffee. We’ve got lemon juice. We’ve got wine. We’ve got iced tea. I’m a big green tea drinker. I drink three or four of those a day. That’s acidic. And of course, you know, if I don’t tape… Even though I can nose breathe, my mouth falls open at night. This is a normal thing. I don’t know why, but it happens. Why that would be, from an evolutionary standpoint, why would our mouth fall open at night if we can nose breathe? Maybe it’s because we’re sleeping on mattresses and we didn’t sleep on mattresses. I don’t know. Maybe we were side sleepers, you know, around the fire, but in the caves.

 

But anyway, don’t underestimate dry mouth. It will lead to decay, gum disease. It complicates oral health dramatically, and within weeks. And that’s why I love mouth taping if you can mouth tape.

 

Katie: Yeah, I agree. And I think that is definitely going to be one of the more controversial things probably that we’ve said in this episode is it brushing and flossing maybe are not actually as important as we’ve been led to believe. To your point, when we look at these populations in the past that had perfect oral health, you’re right, they weren’t brushing or flossing. They didn’t even know what that was.

 

Mark: Sorry. The last thing on that list I didn’t mention is genetics. And yes, some dentists will say your teeth, some teeth are more likely to get cavities and others, I mean, in people. And there is truth to that. And it’s how the tooth forms and the lobes of enamel that are forming in the jawbone as they cinch together, as they fuse, there can be a deep invagination, like a deep groove. And those teeth tend to get more cavities.

 

But again, if you didn’t have that crazy diet that we’re exposed to, even those genetically predisposed teeth that have a predilection to get decay wouldn’t be affected. In that last group, I put epigenetics. I put genetics. Epigenetics, of course, is our environment. So, for example, you could suffer from, you know, exposure to air pollution, which clogs up your nasal sinuses, which promotes mouth breathing. And then you get the oral disease from that, for example. So our environment is problematic, definitely, not just poor food choices.

 

Katie: That makes sense. And I love that you brought up food actually coming into play then. And we know it’s no secret that the nutrients in our food supply have declined. And we’re, on average, eating a much less nutrient-dense diet than we used to.

 

One thing that’s helpful for me to think of, I think we did ourselves a disservice when we started understanding calories and then focusing on calories because it isn’t just about calories. And I encourage people to think of, if you look at nutrient density per calorie versus just calories, in general, you’ll get a lot farther in the right direction, because it’s truly, like, how much nutrient density can I get in my body with the amount of calories I need to eat per day instead of looking at the restriction side. I think the restrictive side leads us to eat actually less nutrient-dense foods, which is a problem I see in the diet industry.

 

Mark: Exactly. And a calorie is not a calorie. You’re absolutely right. And it was the big food that demonized fat because they were selling something that was a lot cheaper and more profitable. And that was carbohydrates. I mean, we’ve got perfect examples of that. I think it’s happening in the fluoride industry right now. That’s a byproduct of the fertilizer industry, the fluoride.

 

I mean, you have to be very wary of big corporations. I’m not saying they’re all bad. And they’re a lot of products that they make that are excellent. But just be wary of mass-produced things that come in bags and are packaged. And that’s going to do you in, unfortunately. I don’t know if you want me to talk about supplements. But you know, there’s such a lack of mineral now in our soil. We are mineral devoid. And teeth are made up of minerals. Also, our saliva loves to contain and store minerals because that’s what the tooth needs.

 

If the tooth is demineralizing. And there’s a covalent bonding moment, you know, where the tooth is electronegatively charged. In other words, it’s being demineralized. Those calcium and phosphorus bonds, which are positively charged, they have to be there for that joining to occur. And that’s how this process of the teeth and bones… As you said earlier, bones are dynamic. They’re always changing and they’re able to fix themselves.

 

So our soil is devoid of minerals. I’m drinking water right now. I add trace minerals to my distilled water because I don’t want fluoride. So I take out the fluoride, add back the minerals, you know, clean my water. I mean, it’s insane what we have to do to get a healthy diet. But this is why I’m big on supplements. The diet and the soil and the environment is devoid. We’ve sterilized it. Well, we’ve disinfected it, and we’ve ruined it. And we’ve added toxin. When it comes to oral health, I recommend Vitamin C, obviously, that’s for collagen. I’ve got studies to back all this up, many studies.

 

So the little ligaments that attach the tooth to the jawbone, that’s all collagen. And collagen will stiffen over time. That’s what scurvy was when our ancestors came over on the Mayflower. I mean, that’s what they suffered from. They were eating just smoked meats. They didn’t have any fruits and vegetables.

 

The omega-3s, I talked about that before, DHA, EPA, cod liver oil. If you have a child, give them cod liver oil two, three times a day. If they don’t like it, get the lemon flavor. You know, they have flavored. This is so good for the development of the face. And for, you know, adding K2 to their diet. K2 is an incredible supplement that we just discovered, I say just discovered. Again, after the year 2,000, K2, I’m referring to, not K1. Make sure you’re getting both forms of K2, the fat soluble and the water-soluble version. Make sure your kids are getting it. I would supplement that with that.

 

Probiotics and prebiotics, I’m definitely sold on prebiotics in the mouth. That’s in the mouth itself, chewing on it. Probiotics, you know, that’s the whole weed, and seed, and feed argument. If you have a dysbiosis of the oral microbiome, that’s where the oral microbiome is not well in your mouth, throwing a lot of expensive probiotics at it won’t work. You have to really make sure that the prebiotics are on board first to stabilize and allow the populations to settle in properly.

 

What else? Melatonin. That was a surprise to me. I just found that research about a year and a half ago. And melatonin, I’ve always been very wary of. I’ll take one or two milligrams, which is hard to find in the U.S. Usually, it’s more. In Europe, it’s regulated. Anything over 2.5 is a prescription dose because it’s a hormone. But for gum disease, melatonin, for short periods of time, there are a lot of studies that indicate that that’s great after scale and root planing, after gum disease treatment, even surgery, that taking melatonin for that period of time will improve the results of the surgery.

 

Vitamin D, no brainer. I don’t think I need to go into that. But it’s huge. Vitamin D is all about…you know, Vitamin D, essentially, in the gut allows calcium to cross over into the gut into the bloodstream. And we need that mechanism. We need calcium in the bloodstream so that we can get to our bones and our teeth. K2 is the key to that, though. And so is A. K2 provides proteins that allow mobilization of the calcium. And so K2 is very important. So if you’re taking a lot of calcium, and you’re not getting K2, be wary of that. You’re getting too much calcium. But Vitamin D, A and K2, probably the three most important supplements that I would recommend.

 

B vitamins, important, zinc is important. CoQ10, a lot of people know about CoQ10 for gum health. Lots of studies on that go back decades. And curcumin is important, even topically, in teas and things like that. Green tea is important. I’m a big fan of green tea. I think it should be in toothpaste. I think it’s very beneficial to drink green tea. Certainly, ingesting it is important for the rest of the body.

 

And the last thing I want to mention, which may not be well known yet because it wasn’t available in the U.S., but I would recommend spermidine. It basically induces autophagy without fasting, does a few other things too. But I would recommend high doses of spermidine before and during and after scale and root planing. This is, again, you’ve got gum disease, your tissues are inflamed, you’ve had that cytokine response. You’ve lost the connective tissue around the girdle of the tooth. You’ve had gum recession because of that bone loss, perhaps. And taking spermidine, which makes things grow like crazy in your body, is a good thing to do after you’ve had deep cleaning, scale and root planing. If you’ve had it, you know what I’m talking about, you know these terms and/or gum surgery.

 

And unfortunately, that’s what you need if you have full-on gum disease. There’s no way of reversing naturally or supplementing yourself your way out or with diet severe gum disease. Once you’ve got that process where the body is…basically, it’s an autoimmune disease. The body’s attacking the gums and the supportive tissues.

 

That’s why it’s called periodontal, around the tooth, tissues. You’ve got to stop that in its tracks, and that requires seeing a good periodontist. Again, a good classically trained dentist, which we definitely need. And so I spermidine is something that I’ve just added to the list as of just a few weeks ago.

 

So I can give you links to what I’m taking if you want. But these are important. And I don’t like to have to say that we need to supplement. Unfortunately, we do. It’s just the nature of our world that we’ve created.

 

Katie: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. I think that’s really helpful for people to understand that. Saliva, mineral density, and those fat-soluble vitamins, and how important they are, especially for children. And we know from the literature that deficiency in these areas also impacts many areas besides the mouth, but often, like you said, we will see it in the mouth first.

 

And so this is actually I think a great thing like the mouth can tell us so much. And if we use it as a tool, we can actually understand so much more about the body through the mouth. And I have a feeling we are going to get many follow-up questions from moms about, “What about this specific scenario?” and, “This happened to my kid.” So I’m hoping we can do another round once we start getting some of those questions…

 

Mark: Sure, I would love that.

 

Katie: …because you are so fun to talk to you in such a wealth of knowledge. But to respect your time and the audience’s time today, a couple of last wrap-up questions. The first being, if there’s a book or a number of books that have had a profound impact on your life. I know you already mentioned one, but any others. And if so, what they are and why.

 

Mark: Oh boy. There have been many books. Actually, if I look to the left there in my library, “Breath” by James Nestor. And I’m recommending books that influenced me greatly. But this book would be more because I know it’s easily digestible. And it’s a breakthrough book because it really brings to light this lost art of being able to breathe properly and in such a nice way. It’s a page turner. So James Nestor. I mean, I knew all the stuff in the book, but I liked the book because of how it brought it all together.

 

What will be the other book? You know what? It still is, and I say this often, but I would say, The Calcium Paradox by Kate Rheaume-Bleue. That was kind of the first real good book on K2, I think, again, early 2000, maybe 2006, 2007. Very well written book by Canadian nutritional expert. And it’s a fascinating book. It’s something that really kind of just blew me away because it made a lot of sense, but it was something completely new. It was all about K2, something that I had never been exposed to.

 

And I nerd out on these things. I mean, as of probably age 14, 15, probably, as a result of the influence of my mother, I was into nutrition. I mean, I was taking brewer’s yeast and cod liver oil, or I was given it. I read books on life extension. I mean, these are books that people maybe my age would know and remember. I mean, this has kind of been a hobby of mine for a long time.

 

And then, of course, dental school came. And I had to readjust. But, you know, after dental school, that just kept, stayed with me. So those are probably… I would stick with “Breath.” It’s up to date. It’s fun. It’s a very, very inspirational book. It’ll motivate you in so many different ways.

 

Katie: I will make sure that’s linked in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm, along with, of course, links to your work because you have such a huge amount of knowledge available on the internet and so many great resources for people. Any parting advice you want to leave with the listeners today? And maybe also where they can connect with you and learn more?

 

Mark: Well, you can certainly go to our website. I have a podcast. You can link to all that. Katie, I would appreciate that. I have a book. I think to answer, our Instagram is a fun place. I do respond to people on Instagram. We put stuff out daily just to keep you motivated. It keeps me motivated to bring in new content and all that. My team is very excited about Instagram.

 

We’ve recently gone to TikTok. Not a big fan of TikTok, but, you know, it’s interesting because there’s a huge audience out there. And when we came to TikTok, I mean, our numbers grew quickly because that information wasn’t available. So, I get it now. I mean, this information needs to get out there. So that’s been fun.

 

But my bit of advice. I think I already mentioned it earlier in the podcast is that, you know, address your sleep. I don’t care if you’re 70 years old or you’re a mom and dad that just had a kid. If you don’t address sleep, which is like, I think the pillar of health, maybe it’s the food we take in, but remember we can live longer without food than we can with sleep. I mean, three days of no sleep, you’re done for, you’re insane. You’re legally insane.

 

Food, we can, you know, certainly live without longer and water as well. But I would say that much of what your life is going to be, our short lives, our precious lives, are determined by how well you sleep. And we live in a great time where you can…you know, I’ve got the Oura ring here, which I’m not affiliated with any way. But I mean, I am all about good sleep for family members, for all my listeners, and followers. Sleep is so important.

 

And dentistry is in a very good position that, I mentioned earlier, we’re in the pole position. We see it from day one. And I just get so frustrated sometimes because… For example, tongue-ties, I think, and this sounds extreme, but if you’re able to, if you have the means to, or if the hospital does this, have a tongue-tie expert present at the birth of your children because that needs to be addressed within the first one hour of your child’s life.

 

If it’s not, there’s a diversion there of two different destinies for your child. It starts with difficult or no breastfeeding to, you know, an underdeveloped face, which leads to breathing issues and mouth breathing as opposed to nose breathing. And don’t underestimate what change that makes to you as a person. Personality, the way you look, your self-esteem, your earning potential, not that that’s terribly important. But it can be.

 

And being a parent, being a good person, being a good citizen of the planet, I mean, I’m not exaggerating, it is so important. And it makes you happier. It makes your short time here on this planet way better for the people around you and for yourself. So that would be my advice.

 

Katie: I love it and a perfect place to wrap up, I think, for now. Like I said, I hope there will be more to come in the future, but very grateful for your time today in sharing your knowledge and for all the work you do online. I will make sure all of your platforms are linked. You have such great information across all social media and your website. So you guys go check him out, especially if you have any dental specific questions. He probably has an answer for you already online. But thank you so much for being here today.

 

Mark: Katie, thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

 

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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