Category Archives: Biological Dentistry

Health & Illness: More Than “If A and if B, then C”

One of this blog’s most popular posts is an article I originally wrote for my office website, “Why Doesn’t Everyone with Mercury Fillings Get Sick?”. The short answer – which I also discuss in the video “Silver Fillings, Toxic Teeth” – is that how a person fares with amalgams

tells us nothing about the fillings and everything about that individual’s constitution, immune response and ability to excrete toxins. Consider: if you have a healthy, robust immune system, you can be exposed to many pathogens without getting sick. It’s why not everyone gets the flu each year – or gets the same kind. Likewise, a person in good health and with few other risk factors may be able to bear the burden of mercury…for a time. But if they become ill or take up bad habits (e.g., eating junk food, taking drugs, smoking), their body becomes less and less able to rid itself of the mercury. That’s when you begin to see symptoms of Dental Amalgam Syndrome.

And the same can be said for most any kind of dental toxicity issue.

Several weeks ago, a reader expressed fear and concern in comments on an earlier post about root canals:

I am currently pregnant and have had to get 4 root canals during this pregnancy. I now have 6 total, at the age of 30. After doing research, I am now extremely scared and depressed. I would ideally like to have all of my root canals extracted, but am not sure that I can afford ths, after paying for the root canals themselves. Am I now destined for heart disease and/or cancer?

Strictly speaking, no one is destined for any disease. Yes, we may be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses or conditions. We may be at higher or lower risk due to factors such as lifestyle choices (e.g., diet, drug use) or environmental exposures. We may be constitutionally better or worse at eliminating the various toxins we’re exposed to.

Complex, chronic, multifactorial conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders and “enigmatic” illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivities arise from a dynamic of forces and factors that we’re still just beginning to really grasp. But we do know that the body is a self-regulating organism whose health and healing can be supported through proper detoxification, nutrition and an active, balanced lifestyle. While living healthy is likewise no guarantee that a person will never get sick – we’ve all heard about people who lived as healthfully as possible yet still died young – it’s the best insurance policy we have.

The conventional view of medicine most of us grow up with is, to be blunt, pretty simplistic: For every illness, there’s a single cause; stopping symptoms is the same thing as curing disease. Our socialization into this model is so strong that even when we begin to understand its limitations and the benefits of a holistic, biological approach to health and well-being, we may still find our thinking stuck in its habitual ways. Here, fear becomes easy. We may assume that because we’re sick and have amalgam fillings and mercury is toxic, our illness must be due to the fillings. (Actually, only thorough, proper testing and evaluation can tell us that.) Or we may worry that the presence of root canal teeth is a one-way ticket to cancer.

Yes, there are strong, demonstrated links between health problems and dental foci – and a research record of more than 100 years – but there are no absolutes. There are too many variables.

Let’s go back to an example I used in passing in the mercury article we started with today: the flu. Why doesn’t everyone exposed to the virus get the flu – and why do some who “protect” themselves via vaccination get sick anyway? Because, as authors of a study published last year in PLoS Genetics put it, “Exposure to influenza viruses is necessary, but not sufficient, for healthy human hosts to develop symptomatic illness.” As MSNBC reported,

“Many people might conclude that if you are exposed to a virus and you don’t get sick, it’s because the virus didn’t stick or it was so weak, it just passed right through your system and your system didn’t notice. That’s not a correct notion,” says Alfred Hero, professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering and author of the study….

He continues, “There is an active immune response which accounts for the resistance of certain people getting sick, and that response is just as active as the response we all know and hate, which is being sick with the sniffles, fever, coughing and sneezing. It’s just that the responses are different.”

And this is the case with all manner of exposures, whether to pathogenic microbes or other toxins: There’s always a response, but that response varies according to the individual. Is their immune system robust? Are they good excretors of mercury and other heavy metals? Do they practice good health habits to keep the body’s self-regulatory mechanisms in good working order?

This is why it’s so vital to look at each person’s situation and tailor treatment to their unique dynamic of factors – likewise, to always keep the big picture in mind: How does the dental situation fit in with and relate to the other health factors in a person’s life? Healing depends on a holistic, individualized approach.

Image by Lumiago, via Flickr

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, General Health

All Dental X-rays Are NOT Created Equal

“Information overload” isn’t a new concept or phenomenon, but it is a more common one in our hyper-connected world.

As the world moves into a new era of globalization, an increasing number of people are connecting to the Internet to conduct their own research and are given the ability to produce as well as consume the data accessed on an increasing number of websites….This flow has created a new life where we are now in danger of becoming dependent on this method of access to information. Therefore we see an information overload from the access to so much information, almost instantaneously, without knowing the validity of the content and the risk of misinformation.

Another consequence is greater competition for attention. It’s one reason why we see the kinds of headlines we do – sometimes promising practical, helpful content to come, but more often striving to shock, surprise or otherwise arouse curiosity. More than ever, it’s important that we read beyond them and really grasp what’s being said.

Consider, for instance, this post on Dr. Mercola’s site yesterday:

Now, if you were to just read the headline and first bit of content, you couldn’t be faulted for thinking that dental x-rays are horrible, dangerous and something to avoid at all costs. But that’s not what the article actually says. The risk suggested by the research discussed involved only routine and conventional x-rays. It also has significant limitations, which Dr. Mercola points out. And his ultimate recommendation?

My personal recommendation is to find a dentist that uses digital X-ray equipment that does not use film but a sensor to capture the image. This type of equipment typically generates 90 percent less radiation and is far safer. The dentist I see uses this type of X-ray equipment.

It’s the type of equipment I use, as well (as do many other dentists, conventional and holistic alike). For x-rays remain an important diagnostic tool, not something that should be “routine.” Taking digital x-rays – and then, only when needed – keeps risk as low as possible. (Another benefit to digital imaging: You don’t need to have all those chemicals – a potential source of toxic exposure – to process the film. No chemicals, no fumes to permeate the office environment!)

And truth be told, most biological dentists use digital imaging for the exact same reasons. It’s safe and lets us see below the surface so we can correctly diagnose your dental situation. It helps us provide you with the best biological dental care, fixing any problems early – and biocompatibly.

That level of care and safety is one thing that should be routine. X-rays? No, and especially if they’re conventional film.

More about why x-rays matter

More on information overload in the digital age

Image by a440, via Flickr

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Dentistry

Hearing What the Body Is Saying

A couple Septembers ago, I wrote about how,

if we begin to listen to the body, we begin to get a deeper appreciation for its intricate workings and an understanding of how our actions affect it – what makes it feel better and work more effectively; what strains and stresses it. We are then in a position to be much more pro-active about our health. We gain more control of it…and our physical destiny.

Yet many people aren’t and don’t, often acting as though health and illness are always and only matters of chance, not choice. Maybe the familiar and sad statistic isn’t all that surprising, then: 70% of all deaths each year are due to chronic disease. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one, and 75% of all health care dollars spent each year goes to treating them. (And we wonder why “health care” costs are so high?!) Most all of them are totally preventable – not through drugs, surgery or other conventional treatment but the lifestyle choices we make.

Two of the most common blocks to good health – dental/oral and systemic – are poor diet and chronic stress. Both keep the body from getting and assimilating all the nutrients it needs to function well. Stress – mental and physical – keeps the body constantly on “high alert,” which interferes with normal metabolic activity and weakens the immune system, making us more vulnerable to disease. It can also aggravate poor food choices, even as poor nutrition can increase stress. (Talk about a vicious cycle!)

Dentally, under these conditions, we may see more gum disease and tooth decay. Where stress-induced clenching and grinding are issues, we see TMJ and other pain problems, as well as damaged teeth and recessed gums, accompanied by tooth sensitivity. (And despite what some ads say, toothpaste for sensitive teeth does not “cure” the problem, which is exposed root or dentin. It just lets you brush sensitive teeth more comfortably.)

Thus, providing comprehensive holistic dental care often means dealing with these related matters of nutrition and stress. We regularly provide testing and consultation to patients – both those undergoing intensive treatment to remove oral blocks to optimal health (e.g., mercury fillings, root canals, cavitations) and those simply wanting to do all they can to support their health and well-being. Previously, I told you about ART for nutritional testing. This week, I’d like to tell you about a couple of other tools that help us provide a higher level of care to the patients we see.

The first is a device called Nano SRT. This bioelectric assessment and therapeutic tool first identifies physical stressors – chemical, biological and environmental – that may be a drag on health. It provides a report showing the substances and substance groups identified, severity levels and the likelihood of negative health effects stemming from the stressors. It can then be used to help correct the body’s response to them by recalibrating the body’s response via frequencies developed as a result of the biofeedback test. Unique to each individual, they’re transmitted by LED light to various meridian points on the body. Nutritional support and supplementation are also used to help restore balance.

The process is safe, non-invasive, fast and painless. Typically, treatment takes from 6 to 8 visits – one for the initial evaluation and then several follow-up visits to monitor changes and make adjustments as needed.

You can learn more about the device here.

The other new scanning tool we use is ZYTO, which gives us a glimpse of the body’s internal communications. Focusing on this gives us another way work with you to develop a proper protocol of nutrition, supplementation and other lifestyle adjustments to improve physical function and overall health and wellness. As the manufacturer explains,

By interacting energetically with your body the ZYTO software will essentially ‘ask your body questions’ and record your body’s responses or ‘answers’. Information gathered in this way can help you be more proactive about your health and help you and your healthcare provider make better decisions regarding your healthcare.

The ZYTO scan is safe, easy and, most importantly, accurate. One pilot study (PDF) showed an 87% “congruity in the disease assessment” between scan results and those from conventional diagnostic workups. The study’s authors include Dr. William Tiller, esteemed researcher and author of Science and Human Transformation, an exploration of the effects of subtle energies on human consciousness.

You can learn more about ZYTO here.

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Diet & Nutrition

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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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Cavitations

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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