Category Archives: Biological Dentistry

Should You Be Concerned About Aluminum Oxide in Dental Restorations?

Earlier this week, my colleague Dr. Gary Verigin, ran my article on oil pulling as a guest post on his blog, Know Thy Health. In return, he’s allowed me to share his article:

Is There Really Such a Thing as “Metal-Free Dentistry”?

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

As more people become aware of the health risks of mercury amalgam fillings, you see more dental practices marketing themselves as “metal-free.” Sounds great, no?

It’s also inaccurate – and not just because these dentists often do place metal restorations such as gold crowns. As dental materials expert Jess Clifford has noted, “There is no such creation as a metal-free restorative” – not even tooth-colored restorations. All modern composites, glass ionomers (dental cements), porcelain and ceramics contain some metal. It’s not that “metal-free” dental offices are trying to mislead you. They just seem to be using it as shorthand for “mercury-free dentistry.”

But it’s still inaccurate.

And it makes it very easy to think of just about any non-precious metal as dangerous. Consider, for instance, this excerpt from an article on the website of Dr. Hal Huggins, a pioneer in the fight against dental mercury:

I became curious about the composition of porcelain crowns and called one of the manufacturers. I was told their porcelain was pure ceramic. Thanks. I called another and asked what their ceramic was made out of. Porcelain I was told. I called another and asked what their porcelain ceramic was made out of. Natural products. Knowing that mercury was “natural” I went to scientists other than manufacturers. Natural porcelain ceramic is made from clay B kaolin specifically B which is 45 percent aluminum oxide. Oh! So porcelain crowns are really aluminum. The aluminum does come out of the crown and I have personally seen some tragic cases of poisoning from dental porcelain ceramic aluminum crowns. Obviously not everyone has violent reactions, but when they occur, it is not a happy site [sic].

Scary, no? Makes you want to avoid porcelain all together, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem: aluminum oxide is a benign form of the element. As Clifford explains, while aluminum in its “fully reduced (shiny metal) form…will react with a vast number of chemical constituents,” some of which are highly toxic,

not all forms of aluminum are readily reactive, nor do they have appreciable toxicity concerns. In order to be a toxic problem, aluminum must be ionizable or dissociable or otherwise available to bind chemically with tissue constituents. If the aluminum does not have opportunity to chemically separate and bind, toxic constituents are simply not formed. [emphasis added]

In short, it’s not the metal itself but the kind of metal that matters. According to Clifford, “benign” forms of aluminum include alumina and aluminosilicate, in addition to aluminum oxide.

In such fully oxidized forms, the aluminum is either completely bound, or is part of a chemical matrix in crystalline lattice form, or both. Some common occurrences of these forms of aluminum are quartz, mica, feldspar, opal, glass and basic sand. While it is technically possible to force aluminum to chemically separate from any of these materials, it would require extreme furnace heat or high irradiation energy. These conditions are not commensurate with life and tissue survival.

* * *

Dental products are not the only ones where we find the benign forms of aluminum. The glass jars which contain our foods and beverages on the grocer’s shelf are basically barium-boro-aluminosilicates. Sand on the seashore is a rich mix of aluminum oxide and various aluminosilicates. Glass utensils, dishes and vessels in the kitchen (ie., Pyrex, Kimax, Corningware, Stoneware, Anchor-Hocking) are similar aluminosilicates and aluminum oxides. In our bodies, by nature, the bones are comprised of 2.0% – 2.5% aluminosilicate, aluminum oxide or alumina. If the patient can safely have food or beverage stored in glass, or can safely eat food prepared in a Pyrex pan or bowl, or can safely walk on sand, then it becomes immediately obvious that these forms of aluminum are not a threat to good health. The aluminunosilicate / aluminum oxide content of the bones is supplied and replenished daily from the fruits, grains and vegetables of the diet. The aluminosilicate content of lettuces and other vegetables in a single fresh garden salad serving will easily exceed the total quantity of aluminum released in ionized form from a mouthful of porcelain or ceramic crowns over a period of years. [emphasis added]

He adds that only time when even benign forms of aluminum are contraindicated is when an individual tests sensitive to both aluminum and silicates.

You can read his complete paper – “Should I Be Worried About Aluminum in Fillings and Crowns?” – here.

Where sensitivity or reactivity is a concern, we always recommend testing to be absolutely sure we choose restorative materials that the client will be able to tolerate. This includes both energetic and blood serum compatibility evaluations. Energetic testing is done via EAV and matrix imaging. For blood serum analysis, we rely on the Clifford Materials Reactivity Test, which reports on 94 chemical groups and families in more than 11,000 trade name dental products. For assessing material quality, it’s the method of choice for conscientious holistic and biological practitioners. Energetic testing, on the other hand, gives us insight to the quantitative scenario, as well – how much of any given material may be safely used.

To learn more about the stuff that goes into fillings, crowns and bridges, see Dr. Verigin’s articles on dental restorations.

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Raspberries, Piercings & Smoking – Oh, My!

So back to blogging, following up on a few older posts with more recent items I ran across during the hiatus…

Nontoxic Oral Cancer Treatments

We’ve looked at causes and early detection of oral cancer, but then what? Well, if a pair of recent studies holds up, we just might wind up treating precancerous lesions with raspberries.

“Part of the biggest clinical challenge,” says Dr. Susan Mallery in DrBicuspid’s report on her work, “is that we cannot currently identify which lesions will progress to oral cancer. Having nontoxic and effective treatment options available would be a great benefit to both patients and healthcare practitioners.”

In a 2010 study in Pharmaceutical Research, Dr. Mallery’s team found that applying a black raspberry gel directly to the lesions kept precancerous cells from becoming cancerous.

Based on the known mechanisms by which berry compounds function at the cellular levels, researchers speculate that the promising gel trial results reflect activation of two related pathways – apoptosis and terminal differentiation – in the premalignant cells. The ultimate benefit is that damaged cells don’t continue to divide and are therefore not retained.

A new study by the team, published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, showed similar efficacy of patch-delivered fenretinide, a synthetic vitamin A compound. The authors suggest that these “chemopreventives” could be used alone or in rotation, though the raspberry gel was enough for many.

“We’re getting a pretty good handle on what enzymes you need and how you metabolize the compounds, which will give a predictive indicator if you’re going to be a good responder to the raspberry gel alone,” Dr. Mallery said.

How Body Piercing Can Go Wrong

A while back, we looked at a few of the problems oral piercings can cause for your teeth and gums – from infection to pushing teeth out of alignment. But there are others.

Last month, the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology published a comprehensive review of “the medical consequences of body piercing.” First, there are those that can crop up regardless of where the piercing is.

Localized infections are common. Systemic infections such as viral hepatitis and toxic shock syndrome and distant infections such as endocarditis and brain abscesses have been reported. Other general complications include allergic contact dermatitis (e.g. from nickel or latex), bleeding, scarring and keloid formation, nerve damage, and interference with medical procedures such as intubation and blood/organ donation.

Then there are “site-specific” problems. Of concern to dentists:

Oral piercings may lead to difficulty speaking and eating, excessive salivation, and dental problems. Oral and nasal piercings may be aspirated or become embedded, requiring surgical removal.

What the report doesn’t go into, though, are concerns of biological, holistic or integrative practitioners over punching through acupuncture points and housing metal in the body. These can block and disturb energy along the meridians, which can damage health over time. You can learn more about the issue in this helpful overview.

Smokers Avoid the Dentist

Not long after we looked at why smokers need to kick their habit before getting treatment for gum disease – a disease that affects tobacco-users disproportionately – the CDC released some new and sad data on smokers, dental problems and dental care.

The CDC looked at 2008 survey responses from more than 16,000 adults ages 18 through 64.

More than a third of smokers reported having three or more dental problems, ranging from stained teeth to jaw pain, toothaches or infected gums. That was more than twice as much as people who never smoked.

But 20 percent of the smokers said they had not been to a dentist in at least five years. Only 10 percent of non-smokers and former smokers had stayed away that long, the study found.

Smokers seem to be aware their dental health is worse “but they’re not doing anything about it,” said Robin Cohen, a CDC statistician who co-authored the new report.

Why not?

Half said they couldn’t afford it, which makes sense: Smoking rates are higher among lower income groups, it’s an expensive habit and the amount and type of damage it causes can quickly inflate a dental bill. I suspect fear plays a role, too – fear of The Lecture, as noted before, and fear of finding out just how bad the problems are.

Unfortunately, the avoidance tactic usually ends up costing much more. According to a study in the Journal of Periodontology, patients with gum disease who did without periodontal treatment could only replace 4 teeth before they were spending more than they would have for a lifetime of periodontal care.

A lifetime!

“Feasible”?

Last, a headline – from a story about recent UK debates on the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry:

Well, amalgam fillings are sure as heck not feasible in any term!

Images by Lottery Monkey, jpmatth and Savannah Roberts, via Flickr

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Dental Health, Dentistry, Periodontal health

What Are Cavitations?

Most people familiar with holistic or biological dentistry know the problems mercury amalgam fillings can cause. Many also know about the health risks of root canal teeth. But fewer know much about a third major oral issue: cavitations.

So although I’ve posted about them before, I think it’s important to share additional information from time to time so more people become aware of this other potential block to more optimal health.

So just what is a cavitation?

In simplest terms, it’s a hole in the jaw bone that hasn’t healed correctly. There are many causes, including dental trauma, gum disease and toxic assault, but they most commonly follow tooth extraction. (As the title of one research article by Drs. Levy and Huggins put it, “Routine Dental Extractions Routinely Produce Cavitations” [PDF].) For when a tooth is removed, the periodontal ligament and a bit of the bone around the socket must be removed, too. (This ligament is what attaches teeth to the jaw.) Otherwise, remaining bacteria will be effectively sealed into the jaw bone as new tissue grows over the surgical site. The infection continues to destroy tissue, while the waste from that dead and decaying tissues worsens the infection.

This infection doesn’t just stay in the jaw, however. The pathogens have access to the general circulation via blood and lymph vessels. Where they go, what organs they affect and how depend on their type.

Notably, mercury and other toxic heavy metals may also be distributed through the body via cavitations, as evidence suggests they can act as holding tanks of sorts for the vapor released by mercury fillings in the mouth. It is, in short, another route of access for systemic mercury poisoning.

Here’s naturopath Dr. Alison Adams on cavitations and their long-term consequences:

 

 

See also “Dental Dangers: Cavitations” and “Oral Obstacles to Optimal Health.”

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The Holistic Dentist Year in Review, 2011

As we’re about to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012, it seems only right to take a quick look back at the year in blogging.

It was The Holistic Dentist‘s first full year of existence. (Its two year anniversary will be at the end of this coming February.) And during that time, our audience more than tripled!

Here’s what people were reading:

Top 10 New Posts of 2011

  1. What’s Ozone Therapy & How Is It Used in Dentistry?
  2. US Calls for a “Phase-out” of Dental Amalgam in World Mercury Treaty Negotiations
  3. Do Natural Mouthwashes Work?
  4. Root Canal Myths
  5. Want Your Kids to Eat More Veg & Fruit? Try Smiling!
  6. Why Do We Have Two Sets of Natural Teeth in Our Lifetimes?
  7. Teeth Sensitive? Don’t Look Now, but Your Dentin May Be Showing
  8. Case History: “A True Healing Miracle”
  9. Detox Support: Reiki
  10. How to Get Rid of Bad Breath Naturally

Top 10 Overall Posts in 2011

  1. Why Tongue Piercings Aren’t So Cool for Your Teeth & Gums
  2. Get the Most Out of Tooth Whitening
  3. Nutrition & Your Amazing, Self-Healing Teeth
  4. Why Doesn’t Everyone with Mercury Fillings Get Sick?
  5. A Nanosilver Bullet Against Tooth Decay?
  6. What’s Ozone Therapy & How Is It Used in Dentistry?
  7. US Calls for a “Phase-out” of Dental Amalgam in World Mercury Treaty Negotiations
  8. Do Natural Mouthwashes Work?
  9. Root Canal Myths
  10. Does Fluoride Really Prevent Cavities?

Thanks much to all of you for reading, commenting and sharing! And if you’ve not yet connected with my office via Facebook and/or Twitter for more frequent info on holistic, biological dental health and wellness, please do!

My staff and I wish you the happiest of New Years…

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A Note from This Year’s IABDM Meeting

This weekend, I’m in Carmel for the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine – a group formed by two of my California colleagues: Gary Verigin, DDS and the late Ed Arana, DDS. Back in the 1980s, after repeatedly seeing each other at seminars on the advances in dental medicine then being made in Germany, the two began to share knowledge and resources – and an eagerness to learn everything possible about this new kind of dentistry.

One evening, after a class with German naturopath Andreas Marx, they talked about bringing more of the best German biological dentists to the US to teach them. Wanting to share this knowledge with the best American dentists, they dreamt of a global network of dentists committed to biological principles. They could share knowledge, technology and insight. They could establish standards of care. They could build a canon of legitimate scientific knowledge. And there would be strength in numbers.

That evening, the American Academy of Biological Dentistry was born.

Several years ago, the name was changed to better reflect the Academy’s global membership and the integral relationship between dentistry and medicine. Yet the IABDM mission continues: providing opportunities for biological dentists, physicians and allied practitioners to meet, network and share research and knowledge that helps us provide the best integrative care to our patients.

This year (PDF), two of the key figures in the ongoing fight to end toxic dentistry will be speaking about their latest research: biochemist Dr. Boyd Haley, on the relationship between mercury exposure and Alzheimer’s disease; and
dental researcher Dr. Hal Huggins, on reasons for the astronomical rise in conditions such as MS and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Also presenting will be naturopath Dr. Louisa Williams (author of the excellent book Radical Medicine) and noted oral pathology expert Jerry Bouquot, DDS – and I’m looking forward to learning more from both of them, too.

For as I wrote before, I’m a continual student

The professional man has no right
to be other than a continuous student.

G.V. Black, DDS

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30+ Years of Mercury-Free Dentistry

There’s a lot of high-quality, detailed and well-documented information out there about the health hazards of dental mercury. Many who contact my office about their dental needs are already quite familiar with it. In fact, their research is often what brought them to my office in the first place. Still, they have specific questions about me, my practice and what they can expect in terms of treatment.

So I created a FAQ to address the most common questions and concerns. Here’s an excerpt to round out Mercury-Free Dentistry Week:

  • How long have you been a mercury-free dentist?
    I have been a mercury-free dentist since the mid-1970s.
  • What qualifies you to diagnose and safely treat dental mercury poisoning?
    I have taken hundreds of hours of postgraduate training in order to learn the proper techniques of and science supporting this dental treatment. This study is in addition to my general qualifications as a dentist and related continuing education, which you can read about here.
  • How do you know if mercury amalgam fillings are causing a problem?
    I begin by gathering as much information as possible. The first visit involves a comprehensive, oral, head and neck examination, in which we fully chart your current dental, periodontal (gum) and oral conditions. We evaluate the state of your occlusion (bite), TM joint function and musculoskeletal condition, and perform galvanic, pulp vitality and allergy tests. We get further documentation of conditions via intra- and extra-oral photos, x-rays and diagnostic cast models. Unfortunately, there is still no single test that can prove without a doubt that dental mercury is causing a particular health problem. However, there are several tests that can help confirm diagnosis. These include hair analysis, fecal mercury analysis, blood chemistry, heavy metals urine challenge and electrodermal screening.
  • Which mercury-removal protocols do you follow?
    Standards of care for safe removal (PDF) have been established and are maintained by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).

     

     

    These standards help ensure that the mercury is removed safely and that the patient, dentist and staff are not exposed to the poisonous mercury vapor that is released during the process. My staff and I are trained in and have followed this protocol since its inception. Before that, we followed the widely-accepted Huggins Protocol, which continues to guide our work in this area, as well.

  • What will you replace the mercury fillings with?
    There are hundreds of different dental restoration materials and cements that can be combined in literally millions of ways. Our rule of thumb is to use the most practical and least toxic. We’ll look to what’s most compatible with your specific biochemistry and what’s most suited to the specific dental conditions we need to recreate in your mouth.
  • How do you know if a material is biocompatible?
    The suitability of materials can be accurately assessed via serum compatibility testing, electrodermal screening (EAV) or applied kinesiology. Of these, serum compatibility is the surest and most thorough, and we strongly recommend it for those with autoimmune disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities or other environmentally-aggravated illness. We prefer the serum testing provided by Clifford Consulting and Research, for which samples of your blood are specially prepared and mixed with hundreds of dental chemicals that are used in several thousand dental products. The antibodies produced provide an immunological record of offensive chemical families, and this information is cross-referenced with over 2000 dental products. With this info at hand, we can find the materials most suited to your unique biochemistry, double-checking their suitability via electrical testing and applied kinesiology, both of which we provide in our office. We want to be absolutely sure that we never replace one poison with another.
  • How fast can I expect to feel better after removing the mercury?
    While you may have read some accounts of people feeling physical relief within hours of having old mercury amalgams removed, it’s unrealistic to expect instant results. Nor is it possible to say how quickly you will experience relief. Results can never be predicted. Each affected person carries a different toxic burden. This alone varies the time it takes to rid the body of mercury completely. Some people may show improvement within months. Those with heavier toxic burdens or more compromised immune systems may need years to recover.
  • I feel fine. Should I have the mercury removed anyway?
    Eliminating any toxin from the body is an undeniable good. While there may not be an immediate effect, you pave the way for greater health, quality of life and longevity. Taking preventive measures is to be properly concerned with the long-term impact of the health choices you make today. Obviously, I recommend removing any potential source of illness or dysfunction. But it is not my role to make your choices for you. You must consider your own needs, desires, values and goals. You must consider the whole of your knowledge of your health and how to maintain good health. You must educate yourself about your options. It is my role to help you do this – and make the most informed choices possible.

Read the full version of the Mercury FAQ.

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One Mercury Filling Is Too Many

Every so often, the Wealthy Dentist surveys dentists on their use of mercury amalgam. In their latest poll, 67% of dentists said they place amalgam fillings at least some of the time: 40% regularly, 27% “in only [sic] special circumstances.” This is quite a change from past results, in which 53% of dentists said they don’t place amalgam – though the difference may be due to there being no “sometimes” option in past polls, and that dentists decide if they want to participate or not. These are hardly scientific polls.

But research published earlier this year in JADA suggests that higher rates of use are more accurate. Amalgam is still more common than composite (tooth-colored filling material) and especially favored by younger dentists and those who work in large group practices:

Dentists who graduated in the past 5 years placed amalgam on 61% of the lesions they treated. One explanation may be that younger dentists are more likely to be in large group practices where they work on salary, rather than fee-for-service, said [study author] Dr. Sonia K. Makhija. The type of material might be dictated by managers of the group practice. In large group practices (4 dentists or more), 79% of the restorations were amalgam (P < .001). "It's quicker, it's easier and it's cheaper to use amalgam," Dr. Makhija said. [emphasis added]

And that, as they say, is the gist and sum of it.

However many are being placed, the simple fact of the matter is that one mercury filling is too many. We know now that there is no longer a place for mercury amalgam in dentistry. While the FDA has flip-flopped and currently holds that mercury fillings are safe, just this year, one of its own scientific panels said otherwise:

According to the panel, FDA’s amalgam risk assessments were not adequate to protect hypersensitive adults, children and unborn babies. Repeatedly, panel members expressed their concern about amalgam use in children. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Suresh Kotagal of the Mayo Clinic summed it up for the entire panel: “There is really no place for mercury in children.” Other panelists went on to explain that dental mercury is like lead. The panel urged FDA to quickly contraindicate amalgam for these vulnerable populations and insisted that FDA provide consumers with labeling containing clear warnings.

Dental amalgam is more than 50% mercury, a known neurotoxin. There is no safe level of exposure. It is considered “toxic waste” outside the mouth but somehow magically inert and harmless when packed into living human teeth.

Mercury fillings have been linked to neurological, autoimmune and cardiovascular disorders, as well as enigmatic chronic illnesses such as CFS, fibromyalgia and MCS. It is continually released from the fillings into the general circulation just under the normal pressures of chewing and swallowing. Indeed, up to 95% of the mercury may be “lost” over time. But it doesn’t just disappear. That which isn’t excreted turns up in other tissues, including the brain. And while videos such as “Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas” have brought a lot of attention to the reality of “outgassing,” this isn’t the only way mercury may enter the general circulation. Some research has shown that mercury may travel through the teeth themselves.

There are many nontoxic alternatives that are strong and durable, less prone to fail and certainly more aesthetic. Placing composite is also a less invasive procedure than placing amalgam, letting you retain more natural tooth structure. All things considered, there just is no good reason for a dentist to place mercury fillings.

 

 

So why do so many dentists keep using it? Here’s a sample of responses to that Wealthy Dentist poll:

  • “I don’t understand what the big hoopla is about banning it entirely. Health concerns? Unproven. Mercury in environment? Don’t blame the dentists.” [Fact: Dentistry is the largest source of wastewater mercury pollution.]
  • “The greatest posterior restoration ever!”
  • “They are the most technically forgiving, economical workable restorative still.”
  • “There is nothing wrong with amalgam restorations — they are efficient and cost effective for the patient!”
  • “They last much longer, less sensitivity and there is no credible evidence they have killed anyone. [A straw man. The issue is harm, for which there is certainly evidence. (PDF)] Remember composites contain Bis-Phenol and I still place many more composites, GI’s, then amalgams. [Fact: Not all composites contain BPA. All amalgams, however, do contain mercury.] Because of their proven longevity, it is unethical to not offer amalgam to your dental patients.” [Fact: This “longevity” claim is a canard. Many new generation restorative materials are reported to be as strong and durable as metal.]
  • “I still love amalgams. I am also tired of all the amalgam-bashing. I believe most of it is profit-driven. I had great gold and amalgams placed years ago in my mouth. No one ever notices.”[Fact: Placing different metals next to each other in the mouth can create galvanic currents, which can also contribute to illness.]

This coming week, September 4 – 9, Consumers for Dental Choice will be teaming up with Dr. Mercola to promote Mercury-Free Dentistry Week. Each day, Dr. Mercola will run an article in honor of mercury-free dentistry – and the people who have worked so hard to stop this toxin from contaminating our bodies, our planet and our workplaces.

I’ll be posting mercury-related content on my office’s Facebook page all week, as well. So be sure to connect with me there so you can stay up to date – not only on the mercury issue but all aspects of holistic, biological dental health and wellness.

Image by foshydog, via Flickr

Updated 9/9/11

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Partner with the Healing Process

The healing process isn’t always a smooth transition from illness through treatment to recovery.

The removal of mercury fillings, cavitations, infected root canals and similar triggers of illness does not, alone, bring instant relief. As with all dental procedures, there are the normal biological processes of limited swelling, pain or discomfort, and inflammation. Sometimes, there can be complications such as infection or poor healing. But whatever the specific situation, the body must be actively supported in its ability to heal.

The best way to empower the body’s recovery is through the use of natural remedies. Unlike drugs that work on and against the body, natural therapies work with the body, allowing it to reach a state of normal function. Such remedies include homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, chelation with vitamin and mineral support, an alkalinizing diet, meditation, a positive mental attitude and trust in Grace.

As Albert Schweitzer once said, “A good therapy is to stimulate the healer within.”

When natural remedies are used, there are times when you will feel worse before you feel better. Such a healing crisis can last days, or even weeks, depending on the toxins stored in the tissues and the constitution of the patient. But this is just a temporary stage on the journey to improved health. As an old Italian saying puts it: Not everything which is bad comes to hurt us. Indeed, good results manifest when we are patient. Once the process is complete, you can look back with gratitude and renewed vitality.

When toxic load, poor nutrition, dehydration, tissue acidity or negative mental attitude sap a body’s ability to heal, the body will find coping mechanisms for survival. For example, it will try to keep toxic materials, including heavy metals, out of the general circulation by depositing them in fat and connective tissues – which also happen to be nutritional stores for the body. Over time, these storage depots become larger and start to block natural organ function. This marks the beginning of chronic symptoms such as allergies, joint and muscle pain, and frequent fatigue.

The chronic disease process takes years to develop. While drug therapy can sometimes seem to provide immediate relief, all the drugs are doing is masking or suppressing symptoms. Natural remedies, on the other hand, support your body’s innate ability to heal by removing the root problem – that which gives rise to symptoms. Though working with nature in this way can take longer, in the broad view, the results are more satisfying and lasting.

Most natural remedies are nontoxic: they have primarily a tonic effect on the body. They have no side effects. When you are feeling bad during the healing process, what you are experiencing is the release of the old, stored toxins. You may not have been aware of them before, but when healing, you become very aware that they are stirred up and wanting out. Our goal is to help them leave the body graciously.

For more articles like this one, visit the resources page at my office website.

Image by mushin_schilling, via Flickr

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Detox Support: Reiki

When a person has become sick due to mercury amalgam fillings, root canals, cavitations or other dental sources of illness and dysfunction, healing isn’t just a matter of removing the source and sending the patient on their way. As I wrote before,

The ideal treatment begins before removal, in preparing your body to heal – especially if you are already ill from mercury poisoning. Again, you got sick because your body couldn’t get rid of the mercury leaching from your fillings. That mercury then accumulated in your body tissues. Thus, we must help your body become more able to excrete it once the source is removed. Most often, this treatment involves nutritional changes, supplementation and the use of homeopathics, and it normally continues through post-removal detox. At that point, you may choose to pursue other treatments, as well – chelation therapy, body work, energy medicine, sauna and others that aid the body in releasing toxins.

One popular complementary therapy is Reiki – which is actually far less mysterious than it sometimes sounds at first. In the following guest post, Reiki Master and wellness educator Jaymie Meyer explains what it is and how it can support your health and well-being.

What Is Reiki? Universal Energy

By Jaymie Meyer, CWP, ERYT-500

I can remember as a little girl the sheer bliss of my grandmother’s polished nails gently scratching my back. Then, as now, I adore bodywork and have experienced many techniques over the years including rolfing, Thai yoga massage and myofascial release.

It was for that reason that I initially shunned Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) – because it doesn’t involve massage. It wasn’t until I felt a strong intuitive call to learn Reiki some nine years ago that I began to search for a teacher.

I found a well regarded Reiki Master named Dina Kennedy in Westchester who is five steps from Dr. Mikao Usui, the man credited with developing Reiki in the late 1800s. I studied with her for several years and ultimately received my initiation as a Reiki Master in 2005.

What exactly is Reiki? Reiki is a Japanese word meaning “universal energy.” It is increasingly recognized in the West as a beneficial adjunct to allopathic medicine. It supports wellness for the physical, emotional and mental body, but it’s not a “magic cure” and isn’t a replacement for licensed medical treatment.

While Reiki is a gentle “hands-on” practice, there is no manipulation of muscle or tissue. It’s typically delivered to a fully clothed person on a massage table but can also be done in a chair.

The practitioner lays hands on the body including the head, heart, belly, back, knees and feet. There is no contact with the breasts, genitals or buttocks. Additionally, people who are recovering from surgery or are extremely sensitive to touch may opt to have the hands over the body. This is equally effective.

Used in hospitals before, during and after surgery, Reiki is believed to enhance the body’s ability to heal itself. In addition to reducing pain and anxiety, Reiki has much to offer in the way of increased wellbeing by reducing stress.

While anecdotal, I have seen Reiki benefit numerous conditions including healing from burns, relieving headaches and back pain, helping sinus conditions, alleviating muscle and joint fatigue and lessening emotional anxiety. It is also helpful for those experiencing insomnia. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to fall asleep during a Reiki treatment.

In January of 2010, while appearing on Oprah, Dr. Oz discussed the merits of complementary medicine. He said, “The most important alternative medicine treatment of all is Reiki energy medicine. It can manipulate your energy and help cure what ails you.”

Reiki clinics – or “circles” as they are sometimes called – are held all over the country and are a wonderful way to sample this practice. Clinics typically offer 15 to 30 minute sessions for a nominal fee. It’s a great way to check out a practitioner with whom you might want to study or receive on-going sessions.

Once you learn Reiki, you can practice it on yourself, which I do daily, but I also enjoy receiving Reiki from other practitioners. A particular treat is receiving Reiki from more than one person at a time. Having four or six hands deliver Reiki simultaneously is an amazing experience that is both energizing and deeply relaxing.

One of the most beneficial aspects of Reiki is that it goes where it’s needed and never, ever harms. Finally, it teaches us how to listen to the subtle messages our body communicates, messages that often deliver insights into lifestyle changes we can potentially make to support a happier and healthier life.

If you are interested in reading more about Reiki, two books written by accomplished Reiki Masters I know and respect are:

  • Living a Life of Reiki by Shalandra Abbey
  • Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide by Pamela Miles

Jaymie Meyer, CWP, ERYT-500, is a wellness educator with certifications in stress management, bereavement counseling, yoga therapy and Ayurveda. She is also a Reiki Master. Her company, Resilience for Life®, has been delivering wellness programs for over 9 years at work sites and educational institutions including the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Coby Electronics Corporation, Columbia University, IBM, Jewish Guild for the Blind and Martha Stewart Living. She is an on-going faculty member at Yogaville’s Integral Yoga Academy, teaching the Stress Management TT each summer. Learn more at resilienceforlife.com, or contact Jaymie via email: jaymie (at) resilienceforlife.com.

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On Being a Life-Long Learner

A lot of people seem to think that once you’re done with school, you’re done learning. But in truth, as Jiddu Krishnamurti taught, “there is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” Sometimes that learning comes from books and lectures. Sometimes it comes through community with coworkers and colleagues, family and friends. Sometimes it comes from just being.

Yes, as a practicing dentist, I’m required to do continuing coursework to keep my license valid. But even so, it seems a common sense thing to do – in dentistry or any other profession. How else could you stay up-to-date in your field?

Consequently, not a month goes by that I don’t participate in a seminar or take a class of some kind. I find it exciting and fulfilling – personally and professionally, intellectually and spiritually. Even after more than 40 years of practicing dentistry, I’m still eager to deepen my understanding of oral-systemic health dynamics. Likewise, I both want and need to stay current with the latest treatments, techniques and technologies so I can continue to provide top-notch care for my patients, helping them heal or just sustain or improve their oral and physical health.

A partial list of courses I’ve taken over the past decade-plus is available here.

Just this month, I completed an 8 month course in periodontics – the dental specialty concerned with the gums and other supporting structures of the teeth. On the one hand, what I learned will help me provide an even higher level of care for patients with gum disease – a problem which affects 3 of every 4 adult Americans. (We looked at some of the reasons for this in a previous post.) But more than that – in the words of the course syllabus – it’s just

no longer…possible to practice restorative dentistry without having an in depth knowledge of how to maintain and modify periodontal tissues. Optimal oral esthetics demands optimal periodontal form. Optimal systemic health demands optimal periodontal health.

In other words, you can’t practice good dentistry by focusing just on the teeth. And you certainly can’t provide the kind of dental care needed to support overall health. As we understand more profoundly how periodontal disease is linked with diabetes, heart disease and other inflammatory conditions, the more crucial it is that dentists take a whole-body approach to their profession.

Although far too many dentists continue to practice mechanistic “toxic dentistry” – treating the teeth in isolation from the rest of the body and relying on substances such as mercury, fluoride and formocresol, believing them harmless – change is happening. The profession – like any – continues to evolve in response to new research and technology, as well as the efforts of holistic health professionals, grassroots activists and patients. Such efforts are one of the reasons why I belong to organizations such as the HDA, IAOMT and IABDM in addition to the dominant ADA and its state and local offshoots. These organizations exist to educate dental and medical professionals, as well as the general public, about safer alternatives to toxic dentistry and the intricate relationships between oral and systemic health.

“Education,” wrote Ralph Ellison, “is all a matter of building bridges” – between ideas, facts, theories, bodies of knowledge and people.

Thus, a new organization was recently founded, of which I’m pleased to count myself a founding member: The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health.

The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health is an organization of health care leaders and health professionals dedicated to the relationship of oral health and whole body health. AAOSH membership includes and is open to health professionals from many allied health disciplines, corporate supporters and sponsors, health educators, and healthcare leaders.

Membership and Academy activities, meetings, research and communications are all supportive of helping members of the healthcare community to work closer together and helping to improve the oral and general health of our patients and our communities.

Understanding the emerging science-driven relationships between the mouth and the body, AAOSH promotes building closer ties between allied health professionals and improving interdisciplinary communication and professional referral relationships.

You can read a more detailed discussion of their mission here. While their website is new enough to not yet have extensive educational resources, no doubt it will grow right along with the organization.

Of course, there’s one other benefit to making active learning a life-long habit: it keeps you young. As said, I’ve been practicing dentistry for over 40 years now – since 1967 – and I still find it exciting and fresh, challenging and new as the day I greeted my very first patient. And the rapid advances in dental-medical tech and knowledge ensure there will always be more to learn; likewise with our expanding knowledge of the mind, spirit and energy that inform both my approach to healing and life in general.

As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Want to resume learning? Here are 15 tips to get you started.

Already a devoted life-long learner? Share your story in the comments – or advice for others who’d like to follow your lead.

Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins. – Jim Rohn

 

Image by jmtimages, via Flickr

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Wellness