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Episode 276: Oral Health with Dr. Chris Spelman DDS

In this episode we sit down with dentist Dr. Chris Spelman to talk all about your oral health. He'll discuss why oral health is so important, how it affects the rest of your body, and some of his favorite doTERRA products to use like the On Guard Mouthwash and the new SuperMint Toothpaste.

This episode is sponsored by the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation. To honor giving Tuesday we’re partnering with the Maui community to raise $100,000 toward replanting 10,000 trees all over the island. $10 plants a tree, and your gift to Maui will echo for generations. Click here to make a donation. View solicitation disclosures here:

If youd like to enroll to be a doTERRA member and receive a 25% wholesale discount on all products click here.


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Your oral health is integral to your overall health, and today we’re going to talk about what you can do every day to support your oral health the best you can.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you’ll hear exciting, useful and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field.

Today’s episode is brought to you by the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation. It’s the holiday season, a time of thankfulness and giving. And to honor it, we’re partnering with the Hawaiian community to raise $100,000 toward replanting 10,000 trees all over the islands.

You can join us in making a lasting impact by donating. Click the link in the description to donate. $10 plants a tree, and your gift will echo for generations.

Today, we’re excited to talk to Dr. Chris Spelman, a dentist and member of the doTERRA Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, all about your oral health.

doTERRA: Dr. Spelman, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Spelman:Thank you for having me.

doTERRA: I am excited to talk about this topic because I don’t think it’s one that gets talked about enough in the doTERRA world or the essential oil world. And so I want to start with a pretty basic question, which is why is supporting our oral health so important?

Dr. Spelman:Okay, so that’s a good question, but I want to break that one down a little bit and actually reword the question, because I think it’s going to lead us to some better answers. So if you’re okay with that, I’d like to kind of deconstruct that and reframe it a little bit. Is that okay with you?

doTERRA: Absolutely, yes.

Dr. Spelman:Okay. So I think the whole issue of health versus wellness is a really great discussion to have. So when we go to the doctor’s office, we’re always looking to get a clean bill of health, right? So we’re looking to get that clean bill of health, which really means they’ve done a bunch of testing, and they’ve determined whether or not you’re making passing grades.

Have you passed all the tests? And if you have passed the test, you’re considered healthy. You are not diseased. Therefore, you don’t need any treatment. And that’s basically the baseline that we’re working with in the medical community in general.

I think the wellness side of things looks at how can we maximize all our systems so that they are not prone to breakdown. We don’t want to be close to breakdown. We don’t want to be close to failing grades. We want to be getting straight A’s, right?

So I’d like to talk more about wellness instead of health, because I don’t want to be close to failing. I want to make sure that we’re optimizing all of our systems. The other issue is that our oral wellness is tied to our overall wellness, and we tend to compartmentalize too much in medicine as well—where we talk about different systems, and you go to a different doctor for each system: a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, and a digestive specialist.

We’ve compartmentalized things so much that there’s not enough communication between these doctors about systems and about the interconnectedness of all these systems, because they are.

They are not reducible to separate systems. They all have interplay with each other. And that’s particularly true of the mouth, because you talk to most physicians about the oral cavity, and you get blank stares. And that needs to change. We need to talk more in integrative or functional ways about the body as a whole organism and how these all play together.

So what I actually like to ask is something like what is unique about oral care as it relates to total body wellness? Or the other side of that is what are some common themes between oral wellness and total body wellness?

So that’s what I think we’re going to explore here a little bit is what are some of the unique things about the mouth, and what are some commonalities that we’re going to see between total body wellness and how the mouth can contribute to that back and forth? So the issue is not just, you know, what is the mouth as this separate entity from the rest of the body.

But how do we how do we support everything all together so that it’s all one system that is working in synchrony?

So when we talk about the health of the mouth and why it’s so important, well, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, right? So if we want to have proper digestion, for instance, it all starts with the mouth.

And if we don’t have a healthy mouth, if we don’t have a mouth that is optimized in its wellness and there’s dysfunction there, we’re not able to start that digestive process by breaking down all the food so that it can be processed by the digestive system.

So you would think—at least I would like to think and like to hope—that a digestive specialist and a dentist would work intimately together, because our systems are so interrelated, right? So we have to talk about these things in a more integrative way and have an integrative approach to them in order for us to be more effective.

So, yes, the mouth is where everything starts, and it’s how we first interact with the outside world and internalize things. So imagine the effect that that’s having in all of the rest of the systems—is our nutrition is starting in the mouth and how we process things. So we can actually extract the nutrients from our food so that we can support all these other systems.

So you truly can’t have metabolic health without having a good oral health and wellness, right? So . . . and the same is true of all of the other systems. They’re all intertwined. But everything starts with how are we getting things into the mouth so that it can be processed by the body and utilized properly?

doTERRA: I love that, and I think that approach is so important. Now, you mentioned the digestion, nutrition—I think those are fairly quick connections for people to make from our health, from our mouth to our digestive system. But can you go a little bit deeper into how our oral health or our oral wellness is affecting the rest of our body?

Dr. Spelman:Oh, absolutely. So one of the easiest ways to do that is actually to look at cavity as a very unique in ways, a unique microbiome, because we do have resident bacteria in the mouth, right? And those relate to other microbiomes of the body, particularly the digestive microbiome.

So this is another area where I think we have the opportunity to really change the conversation. The traditional way in dentistry was understanding that the microbiome, when it gets out of balance and we have dysbiosis in the mouth, it leads to certain things. And those are well documented, right?

So when we’re looking at that, that breakdown that’s happening, we know that the imbalance of these bacteria has caused that. And if we have a dysbiosis or an imbalance in the mouth, that’s going to affect other parts of the body as well, because it’s a challenge to our immune system. So our immune system is obviously creating a response there. But it’s not isolated to the mouth because our blood circulates into the mouth and then throughout the rest of the body.

So in terms of proper inflammatory control and proper inflammatory response for the whole body, it needs to be addressed everywhere that that is a challenge. And the mouth is a major challenge in that regard.

And again, when we go back to our discussion about oral wellness, we want to make sure that we’re maintaining a stable and nonpathogenic microbiome—that we have a proper balance of the right bacteria, because there are certain bacteria that are very beneficial to have in the mouth. We want to make sure that those are supported, and that the other ones that are more deleterious are kept in check. A big part of that is making sure that we have, you know, healthy, healthy saliva flow.

And I like to look at things again with the interconnectedness of this is that if you don’t have a healthy saliva flow, it’s really indicative of a couple of things. What is causing that challenge? Are we dehydrated? Because if we’re dehydrated, we’re seeing that sometimes in other parts of the body. One of the first places we see it is in a reduced saliva flow, where your mouth gets sticky and pasty, right? And we don’t think of that. We think of, “Oh, I just need a little sip of water just to whet my whistle.” So to say. That’s really indicative that you have a dehydration event going on in the body, and that’s going to be affecting other parts of you. Again, being so interconnected.

But that’s a reminder throughout the day, we need to be staying hydrated, because as the mouth goes, so is going the rest of the body. But there is that old saying never look a gift horse in the mouth.

doTERRA: Mhm?

Dr. Spelman:And that’s a really interesting saying, because if someone gives you a horse as a gift, they said, don’t look at the mouth, just take the horse and walk away and say thank you, right?

And the reason for that was the way you quickly assess the health of a horse is you look in their mouth. If they have a healthy mouth, you can reasonably consider that the rest of their body is healthy. And I love that analogy because that is very true of the human body as well.

We look in the mouth as a general window into the health of the body, and if things are pretty healthy in the mouth, we’re in general going to be seeing better patterns in the body.

When we see breakdowns in the mouth, we need to be exploring well beyond just the oral cavity to say what other things are being affected—what other things might need to be addressed—that this could just be an early indication of. So I love that saying because it puts us on the right path to, again, the interconnectedness of all these things.

doTERRA: Yes. So, Dr. Spelman, we’ve established the importance of that oral wellness and how it’s so interconnected with the rest of our body. And I think everyone has that basic advice of brush and floss your teeth. But what are some of the other things we should be doing every day to support that overall oral wellness?

Dr. Spelman:Yeah, that’s usually the first thing that people think about is just the basics of hygiene. And I will say that that’s common knowledge, but it’s becoming more of a battleground because so many people are not doing the basics. So brushing at a minimum of twice a day for two minutes at a time, uh, gently, with a soft-bristled brush is incredibly important. And then flossing, usually at nighttime, is the best. But doing that at least once a day, these are becoming more uncommon. So I’ll stress those.

But I really don’t think that those are the foundation of where we need to start. So when we’re talking about oral health, believe it or not, I think we need to go back to the doTERRA Wellness Pyramid, which is so helpful, and start at the bottom rung with nutrition and digestion.

So LLV is the foundation to everything that we do because we all need vitamins, minerals, omega oils, and botanicals that go well beyond what our modern diet can provide. Because of all the nutrient deficiencies that are in the soil, that are in our food supply, we just can’t eat enough of these things to be healthy. We have to supplement.

So the LLV I see is an absolutely foundational product. That does apply to the oral cavity as well, in terms of our proper host defense and how our body is responding to the challenges there.

Another one is the MetaPWR Advantage—for proper collagen support and production and for the metabolic support that it gives. Metabolic support is not just about a system. It is about supporting all systems. So the MetaPWR Advantage is something that I tell people they need to be taking every single day in order to maintain that healthy metabolism, because that will lead to better oral outcomes as well.

And then the third thing that I love to talk about is the probiotics. Because again, when we’re addressing the microbiome, we’re not just talking about the gut microbiome, which is important in its own right. But we’re also talking about supporting all of the microbiomes in the body. And the oral microbiome is the second most diverse of all the microbiomes of the body. And between the gut microbiome and the oral microbiome, there’s about a 45% similarity in the types and variety of bacteria that we have in those areas.

So supporting the microbiome as a whole—and I like to think of that as a whole-body system—is a big part of us as a as a human organism, and we can’t neglect that. So taking probiotics, the PB Restore and the PB Assist+ is incredibly important.

And then of course, staying hydrated, which we talked about before, but keeping enough fluids in your body so that you can produce enough saliva is incredibly important, because a dry mouth is a mouth where things are going to go sideways very, very quickly. That’s where tooth breakdown, where the breakdown of the gums and the bone happens much more rapidly because the bacteria are not being held in check.

And saliva is a huge part of keeping those bacteria in check.

doTERRA: I think it’s incredible how we just talked about our oral health affecting the rest of our body, but also the rest of our body affecting our oral health. It’s really such a circular, like you said, an interconnected system.

Dr. Spelman:Absolutely. And I will add one other thing too. As we’re staying hydrated, so many people drink the wrong things throughout the day. Um, and I see this continually. People drink so much coffee, soda, energy drinks, these Starbucks flavored drinks that are just absolutely destructive not only to the mouth, but also to our metabolism.

So I always tell people, listen, it’s water. And I’m a big fan of flavorings in water, so the essential oils fit perfectly. I love MetaPWR in my water or any of the citrus oils. Peppermint works. Spearmint is really good. But just doing those little things that make it even more palatable—but making sure that you’re keeping your water intake up.

And then of course, the electrolytes. You have to have the electrolytes in there throughout the day as well, which of course will be coming shortly to our repertoire. But yeah, keeping that water intake high, but also getting the sugar out of the diet because it’s so destructive, not just for the teeth, but for our metabolic health as well.

doTERRA: Absolutely. Now, shifting gears just a little bit: I think a lot of people go shopping here at the store for mouthwash or toothpaste, and there are seemingly endless options. And they all say, oh, four out of five dentists recommend this brand. As a dentist, what is it that makes doTERRA’s toothpaste and mouthwash different from all those others?

Dr. Spelman:Such a great question. So in the toothpaste world, I will have to go back to our training. And I realized years ago that my training had kind of betrayed me in a lot of different ways. And one was the beating the drum of fluoride. Everything had to have fluoride. It was fluoride for everything—for mouthwashes, for toothpaste. A continual fluoride bath just to try to combat the breakdown of the teeth and to disrupt those bacteria from producing the acid that breaks down the teeth.

And the problem with that, if you really study fluoride, is that it is effective in some ways, but it can be extremely dangerous at low levels. So when we talk about anything in the body, using it, we talk about its index, which means how much do we need to have a beneficial effect, and then how much do we need for a toxic effect. And the difference between those two is your window. That’s the index. And you don’t want to be above that toxic level. And obviously you don’t want to be below that effective level because you’re just using it for nothing.

You want things that you’re using in and on the body to have a very wide range where a little bit can be very effective, and then it takes a ton of it to be toxic. Fluoride is one of those with a very narrow window. It’s effective at small concentrations, but you give it a little bit more and you’re in the toxic range.

And if you read some of the studies, it can be linked to low IQ when it’s used throughout pregnancy and even to the early childhood years. And it can cause digestive issues . . . other neurological issues. So it’s just a tough one to use.

So there are much safer alternatives these days. And hydroxyapatite, which is actually the minerals . . . the mineral content of our bones and teeth, is hydroxyapatite. That’s what makes enamel so strong is because it has the highest hydroxyapatite content of anything in the body. Making sure that that enamel is supported and has the opportunity to have the minerals rebuilt and revitalized is best done with something like hydroxyapatite. It’s native to the body. The body knows exactly what to do with it.

So when we’re fighting that battle between mineral breakdown in the teeth and putting minerals back in, hydroxyapatite fits the bill perfectly. And it’s safe because you can swallow it, and the body will break down those minerals and absorb what it needs, but it will not be toxic.

So for me, especially with children, I think it’s so important to use something that is safe—that you know, is not going to be toxic for the kids. And the toothpaste fits that bill perfectly.

Now, the mouthwash—that is a whole nother argument and discussion that’s going on in dentistry right now. Because the traditional thought was, let’s just eliminate as many bacteria as we can.

And you see this on the labels: eliminates 99.9% of oral bacteria. Well, when we talk about supporting a healthy microbiome, that’s not the right approach. Because when you kill off all the bad guys, you’re killing off all the good guys as well. And then you’re left with no man’s land. and you don’t know what’s going to repopulate. You’re just hoping that the good guys get there first, but you really don’t know.

So what I love about our mouthwash is, first of all, we got rid of the alcohol because, alcohol is very toxic and just kills everything. And we don’t want to do that, Again, we want to support that healthy microbiome. We want to be either supporting or at least not doing harm to the good bacteria. And the bad ones, we want to make sure we’re keeping them in check.

So further research I think is going to show that same effect. And that’s something that we’ll be working on.

What I really don’t think gets enough attention is the micro encapsulation of these essential oils to make them dissolve in water. Because that was just a stroke of genius, that we could find a way to get these essential oils to disperse in water equally without floating on top, like we know they do. But do it in the absence of alcohol, because alcohol was always the medium that we would dissolve the essential oils in before we put them in water. And getting that alcohol out, which it also dries out the oral tissues, was incredibly important.

So that was, again, just a stroke of brilliance. And I’m so glad we approached and got that through.

The other is that it’s die free. So many of these mouthwashes come in pretty colors now. They come in purples and blues and yellows and oranges that are just not natural.

So I love the fact that they’re dye free, because if you study dyes, you know that a lot of them can have adverse health effects. So keeping those away from us at all times in life is also very important. So the mouthwash is something that we use at my office regularly. And this is something that we use as a pre-procedural mouth rinse. Every patient that comes in rinses with this for 30 seconds to a minute before we see them for any procedure.

Because in dentistry, of course, we know from the past several years we create a lot of aerosols. We use a lot of drills that that disperse water droplets and saliva droplets from the mouth all over the place. And we want to make sure that we’re not causing cross-contamination and making it difficult to clean.

So we use that as a pre-procedural rinse. And anybody that has any kind of surgical or deep procedure done, we make sure that they’re using this mouthwash for a week or two afterwards. It’s also important during those times, again, to go back to the foundations and making sure that people are taking LLV and the MetaPWR Advantage as those tissues are healing and reconstituting themselves.

So yeah, I just see these as indispensable products, and they’re so helpful for helping us to maintain that healthy oral environment.


doTERRA: Absolutely. Now, before we end, I have to ask you, why are you excited about the new SuperMint Toothpaste that just launched this year?

Dr. Spelman:Yeah, that’s a real winner. For years, I was hearing from people that they loved the On Guard toothpaste, but they just didn’t love the taste. They said, “I wish you would make a mint.”

Because I think a lot of it is the way we grew up is most of us used a minty-type toothpaste, and we’re used to that minty-fresh feeling, and I’m one of those. I’ve always loved mint toothpastes, so I was so excited when they came out with this because I love that fresh, clean feeling.

Also it has all the benefits from the original On Guard toothpaste in terms of the hydroxyapatite and the mineralization.

What I think is even better than the original is the fact that the mint itself really is powerful in stimulating our saliva flow. And we’ve talked a little bit about how important that is, is to have that healthy saliva flow. But to stimulate it with something like mint, it really gets that saliva coming out quickly. And that’s a big part of buffering acids in the mouth, of cleansing the teeth, and also providing more minerals for that remineralization process to happen.

It’s important for people to remember that when we talk about disruption of biofilms in the mouth, which is really why we’re brushing and flossing the teeth is we’re trying to disrupt biofilms. The workhorse in those events is really the toothbrush and the floss. It’s the bristles on the toothbrush, and it’s the floss that are doing the disruption.

But it’s not just about the disruption of the biofilms. It’s what are we going to put on the surface of the teeth to have its effect. And that’s where the toothpaste is so important to get that hydroxyapatite in contact with the teeth. So any weak areas can be rebuilt.

And I always tell people when you’re brushing with these toothpaste with a hydroxyapatite in it, you rinse until their two minutes is up, you spit out as much of it as you can, and then you leave it be. You do not rinse with water. You don’t rinse with mouthwash right away. You don’t eat or you don’t drink for about half an hour, because you want that hydroxyapatite to have contact time with the teeth. If it’s on the teeth for two minutes and then you rinse it all off, you’ve lost that big remineralization benefit. So it’s really important to leave that on the teeth for about half an hour undisturbed.

And then after that you can go about your business.

So . . . but that’s part of the oral strategy is let’s disrupt the biofilm and get the teeth pristine again. But let’s also put something on the teeth that will have a benefit as well.

doTERRA: Absolutely. Dr. Spelman, it has been incredible to talk to you today to learn more about how to optimize that oral wellness and the differences in the doTERRA products that are offered for your oral health.

Dr. Spelman:Oh, it’s so great to be with you and thank you again so much for having me on.

Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today. And remember, if you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen.

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