Root Planing Cancelled

My friend Carl Willat writes:

Last June I went to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning, fully expecting my gums to be in great shape since I had been diligently using my Braun Oral B electric toothbrush.  To my surprise and disappointment the hygienist told me the pockets had actually become deeper and that she was seeing bleeding in many places, to the point where she was recommending I have my roots planed, a painful and expensive procedure I had undergone once before many years ago. So of course I went home and started taking the flax seed oil and ground flax seed ["a couple of tablespoons a day of oil, plus random amounts of ground flax seed"] as you had recommended.  I also started using a Sonicare toothbrush at that point so it’s hard to figure out the degree to which either variable might be responsible, but today she said my gums were much better, and had hardly bled at all during the measurement of the pockets. All talk of root planing was forgotten.

According to this, root planing costs $400-$1600. After Tyler Cowen started drinking flaxseed oil (2 T/day), he no longer needed gum surgery.

It is hard to get well-preserved flaxseed oil in Beijing (it goes bad at room temperature) so I now take 66 g/day ground flaxseed instead of 2 T/day flaxseed oil. I add it to yogurt twice/day. I don’t know if ground flaxseed is healthier or less healthy than flaxseed oil but it is much less trouble. Preservation is no problem (flaxseeds can be stored at room temperature) and ground flaxseed requires zero willpower to eat with yogurt. I had to push myself a little to drink the oil.

16 Responses to “Root Planing Cancelled”

  1. Paul Cooper Says:

    What about flaxseed tablets? Time will tell I guess as I’ve been taking them and am due a check up at the dentist soon.

  2. dearieme Says:

    I put flaxseed (we call it linseed in the UK) in my breakfast cereal. Is there any disadvantage in not grinding it?

  3. Evelyn Majidi Says:

    I am delighted to hear further about people’s experiences with flaxseed oil and other products made from flax. After reading the initial story on this website about flaxseed oil’s affect on gums, I began to take two tablespoons a day of the product to see if it would provide relief from a severe attack of lichen planus in my mouth. (By the way, I am convinced that lichen planus is just another name for psoriasis – of which I am also a victim – when it affects tissue other than the skin). After three months of using the oil my mouth is in much better shape, and I am very grateful. As lichen planus, like psoriasis in general, waxes and wanes for reasons unknown to medical science, I cannot say that the flaxseed oil caused this wonderful change – but I certainly intend to keep on taking the stuff.

  4. Seth Roberts Says:

    dearime, I believe that grinding flaxseeds makes their ingredients more easily digested. More bioavailable.

    Paul, the optimum amount of flaxseed seems to be 2 tablespoons or more. It isn’t easy to get that much per day from capsules. I’m not sure what tablets are but I suppose they are the same as capsules.

  5. David Says:

    I had a very similar experience to Carl Willat’s. Last May my hygienist performed a perio chart and informed me that I had many 3mm and several 4mm pockets. My x-rays showed that I “have the bone structure of a 55 year old man” (I was 36 at the time). Given that my hygiene was good – I have always flossed and brushed fastidiously – and my gums neither appeared inflamed nor bled as a result of the hygienist’s prodding, I was told that my condition was probably the result of genetics. There was no discussion of underlying systemic inflammation.

    At the time I was using a Sonicare toothbrush which I believed was responsible for the painful sensitivity I was experiencing along my gum line. Against my hygienist’s advice – she told me that the Sonicare was particularly important to someone with my condition – I decided to revert to a manual toothbrush. In addition, based upon what I’d read on this blog, I decided to bombard myself with omega-3. For the following six months I drank flax oil (3 T/day) and I took 1g/day of fish oil.

    Last November I had my regular biannual cleaning and my hygienist performed another perio chart. The result? 1-2mm pockets across the board. I should also mention that the sensitivity along my gum line vanished after discontinuing the Sonicare. Sadly, neither my hygienist nor my dentist showed any curiosity in what may have caused my condition to improve between visits.

    I have decided to quit taking fish oil, but I continue to drink flax oil. It’s my belief that flax oil by itself is enough to fight my inflammation because it cleared up and continues to prevent eczema – something I had suffered with for years. Many thanks to Seth and everyone else here who helped lead me down this path.

  6. Seth Roberts Says:

    David, I’m very glad to hear that. Thanks for commenting. It’s interesting the way your hygienist (a) claimed your condition was genetic and (b) failed to be curious about the improvement. Why did you decide to stop taking fish oil?

  7. David Says:

    Partially because of cost and partially because I took large doses of fish oil in previous years and never achieved the same effects that I did once I started drinking flax oil simultaneously. I lived with eczema and, apparently, gum disease for years while taking fish oil alone (in a larger dose – 2g/day).

  8. Seth Roberts Says:

    Huh. Thanks, David. Those are revealing comparisons. I have tried fish oil only once. It gave me a headache so I stopped. Flaxseed oil has never given me a headache.

  9. e.h. Says:

    Another flaxseed and skin story: I have not read your book or know what your method is exactly – other than it gave me the hint to think of my diet in terms of classical conditioning. I started feeding the ‘insulin pig’ the wrong reward (flaxseed oil) whenever I felt hungry outside meal times. Amount varied between 3 and 12 teaspoons a day, has stabilised around 4 or 5 and appears to be self governing as I don’t like the smell or taste and get nauseous if I eat too much. My desire for food plummeted and right now I am content on one meal a day. I’ve lost 6 kg in as many weeks: Lose another 4 and I will need to re-jig it. My dry, dry skin (eczema as a kid) is ‘almost normal’ and usually only this good when I am on a small boat far from civilisation and refridgerators eating lots of oil, fish and ‘hardware food’. I had never thought of separating oil consumption from meal time. Life changer.

  10. Sam Says:

    Seth, have you ever tried to replace flaxseed oil with (freshly?) ground flaxseed?
    These would be way easier to come by and keep fresh, so this should be a big improvement in handling, but of course this would be for naught if they don’t have the same effect.

  11. Seth Roberts Says:

    Sam, yes, I used to use flaxseed oil. Now I use ground flaxseed. That is what I was saying in the last paragraph of my post, which begins “It is hard to get well-preserved flaxseed oil in Beijing (it goes bad at room temperature) so I now take 66 g/day ground flaxseed instead of 2 T/day flaxseed oil.” As far as I can tell they have the same effect.

  12. Sam Says:

    Whoops. Sorry! I remember reading that part and somehow did not realize you replaced the oil completely.

    One more question: do you grind them fresh, or buy already ground seeds?

  13. UncleLongHair Says:

    This is interesting. I just went to the dentist a couple of days ago. In my prior 2 visits I was warned by the hygenist that my gum pockets were getting to the point that I might have to consider surgery if they didn’t get better. She gave me little toothpick type things intended to stimulate the gums, which i didn’t use because I hated them. In this visit I got no such warning. In the interim I took about 2 Tbsp of flax seed oil almost every day. I happened to be lax in my flossing too. I did not take the flax seed oil for the gum condition (I didn’t know about the connection until reading this post), rather for general anti-inflammatory health.

    I should say that I can’t definitely establish a cause-and-effect relationship here because I’m not certain the hygenist did the same test this time as last time. However I still find this interesting.

    So I have a question. This anecdotal evidence is interesting, but I would love to see a more comprehensive study. Why hasn’t this idea been explored in a study? It would not have to be enormous or expensive to address the issue. I don’t suppose the dental industry would fund such a study, because it would gore their ox if patients could just take oil instead of signing up for expensive surgery. The flax seed industry might fund it, but of course it would be difficult to accept their results as unbiased. Is there any organization that could fund it and produce reliable results?

  14. Seth Roberts Says:

    Sam, I grind them fresh.

    Uncle Long Hair, why hasn’t this idea been explored in a study? I don’t think funding is the problem. Flaxseed oil is cheap. Dental exams cost very little, at least if you are dentist. A study would do an enormous amount of good, I believe. But several factors are against it: 1. Novelty. This idea is really new. 2. Illegitimate origin. Ideas are not supposed to come from blogs. 3. Dentists, who could easily do such a study, don’t do research, by and large. That’s not their job. 4. Dental school professors, who do research, don’t do prevention research. Nor do they read this blog.

    If you are a dentist and would like to do a study, please contact me.

  15. Tom Says:

    Seth, I bet if you created an account on a Dentists’ Forum (or even commented on a few blogs), you’d get a number of Dentists to participate.

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