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In Part 1, we went over some of the main reasons why seeing a truly holistic dentist is an excellent choice for your health and broke down some of the most common dental-related tests that holistic dentists offer. We also outlined the main differences between holistic dentistry and conventional dentistry (the main one is that holistic dentists understand the connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body).
In Part 2, we’ll dive into some of the most common “tools of the trade” that holistic dentists use. These include options for root canals and amalgams, alternatives to antibiotics, safer options for dental appliances, and some little-known but fascinating specializations you may want to know about.
At the end of the article, we’ll also give you 10 “Must Ask” questions that any truly holistic dental professional would not hesitate to answer. Let’s get started.
How Holistic Is Different #3: Safe Options For Root Canals and Amalgams
Root Canal & Amalgam Removal
So you have decided to get those mercury fillings or that root canal removed. Now what? The first thing to remember is that there is a right way and a wrong way to remove both. Doing it the “right way” may lead to a significant increase in health and vitality for you. Doing it the wrong way may bring about more disease.
First, let’s take a look at amalgams. In the last article, we mentioned that roughly 50% of those so-called “silver composites” in your mouth are actually made up of mercury, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.
You may have already heard about the outgassing that occurs with amalgam fillings every time you brush your teeth, eat, or drink something hot. Outgassing is also the main reason why a conscientious holistic dentist will take precautions when removing them. Most authentic biological dentists have advanced training in safe ways to perform filling removal. One of the most common forms of training is called the Huggins-Grube protocol.
Your dentist will also complete a thorough inventory of your general health prior to the procedure. This is to get a sense of how well both your immune and detoxification systems are working right now. This is important since you are going to rely on those systems for flushing out the poisonous mercury that has already accumulated in your body thus far and any that may be deposited as a result of removal.
“…[I]f a patient has a leaky gut, physicians restore this prior to removal as it is difficult to flush out toxins,” explains Ontario-based holistic dentist Dr. Dana Coloson. “If a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, amalgam removal does not occur until she has completed breastfeeding her child.”
It is just as important that your holistic dentist follow strict procedures for removing root canal teeth as well. As in amalgam removal, the concern is that toxic substances will make their way into the body during or after removal. Root canal areas are often treated with ozone prior to, during, and after removal, and all periodontal ligaments must be removed as well. This is done to prevent cavitations and to ensure that bacteria cannot accumulate again. The biotoxins that grow in the dead tissue around a root canal are some of the most dangerous pathogens created in nature, including Botulinum, Aspergillus, and Streptococcus.
If done correctly, the payoff to your health for removing amalgams and root canals can be significant. A 2011 report in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that 3 years after proper amalgam removal, individuals showed “significant reductions in general health complaints.”
Finally, don’t think that because you have amalgam fillings or root canals removed that you will be left with unseemly gaps in your mouth where teeth used to be. These days, there are a lot of alternatives available, including fillings using non-toxic or low-toxin composite resins as well as bridges, dentures, or implants that use safer materials.
How Holistic Is Different #4: Safer Options to Antibiotics
Another huge difference between holistic dental professionals and conventional dentists is how they treat and prevent infection. While conventional dentists rely on either topical or oral antibiotics, holistic dentists take a different approach.
Don’t get me wrong, most holistic dentists can and will prescribe antibiotics, but only when absolutely necessary. In most cases, the alternatives that holistic dentists have at their disposal are strong enough to ward off infection just as well, if not better than conventional antibiotics.
The first piece of ammunition holistic dentists have in their infection-fighting arsenal is ozone. Have you ever wondered why the air outside feels so fresh right after a lightning storm? The reason has to do with ozone. In chemical terms, ozone is represented as O3. The “O” stands for oxygen, so ozone can be thought of as an oxygen molecule that has been “turbo-charged.” All pathogenic substances, including infectious bacteria, simply cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment. A report published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine found that ozone therapy can inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and protozoa.
When a holistic dentist uses ozone therapy for preventing or clearing up an infection in the mouth, he or she may issue injections of ozone gas directly into the potentially infected area. They may also use ozonated water for irrigation between dental pockets and may suggest at-home care using ozonated water or oil. Some dentists may also suggest intravenous ozone therapy because of the benefits ozone administered in this way can have for cellular mitochondria and for kick-starting the healthy functioning of the immune system.
“Ozone can moderate the immune system because it can produce ozonoid, an antioxidant that can conquer oxidative stress,” says Dr. Fen-Hui Chen, a holistic dentist in San Diego, California who uses ozone in a variety of ways with her patients. “You can use ozone water as a mouthwash every day as well. For the most severe periodontal issues, such as Classic III or IV periodontitis, I always encourage [my patients] to purchase an ozone generator.”
Vitamin C Therapy
Since the 1970’s when Dr. Linus Pauling popularized its therapeutic use, holistic dentists have been using vitamin C for their patients’ health.
“Vitamin C’s role in maintaining the health of teeth and gingivae remains unchallenged,” wrote researchers with the Canadian Dental Associations over thirty years ago. “Now clinical evidence indicates that vitamin C functions in improving host defense mechanisms and is thereby implicated in preserving periodontal health.”
This statement still holds true today; your body needs healthy amounts of vitamin C for a myriad of healthy functions in the body, including in the mouth. Vitamin C is an immune system powerhouse and a powerful antioxidant. It is also a necessary substance for the production of the collagen that makes up tissues in the body.
The majority of holistic dentists will “prescribe” high doses of liposomal vitamin C to be taken orally for a few days or longer after any kind of oral surgery, such as a tooth extraction. Liposomal vitamin C is the best delivery method for this vital nutrient since it utilizes tiny fat molecules to help C better absorb at the cellular level.
Your holistic dentist may also recommend intravenous vitamin C therapy, either in-office or through another professional. Similar to ozone therapy, vitamin C administered intravenously can be extremely helpful for those who may need extra support for their immune system, either after a dental procedure or in general.
Nutrition, Herbs, Essential Oils and More
Again, a truly holistic dental professional will take your total health into consideration when determining the best course of action for you. Through testing and conversation, he or she may suggest nutritional protocols, specific herbs, and nutrients such as clove or CoEnzymeQ10, naturally-based mouthwashes, or other modalities such as oil pulling. Your holistic dentist may also suggest specific protocols based on their specialization. This may include homeopathic, ayurvedic, or Chinese medicine protocols, just to name a few.
How Holistic Is Different #5: Safer Materials
Along the same lines as safer standards for surgery and antibiotics, truly holistic dentists will also strive to find dental appliance products that are made of the purest, chemically benign substances available.
Conventional dentures and bridges may be made with resins that could leach toxins such as methyl methacrylate, methacrylate acid, benzoic acid, and even formaldehyde. Many brands of commercial mouthguards may contain cadmium as well as dangerous plastic-related residues such as BPS and BPA. One of the advantages of using the services of a truly holistic dentist is an assurance that your doctor has chosen materials containing the least amount of known disease-causing toxic materials.
Depending on your particular health situation, your dentist may take extra precautions and suggest that you get a dental materials test done. A common one is the Clifford Materials Reactivity Testing (CMRT), which will check your potential reactivity to over 17,00 trade-named dental products and over 10,000 surgical materials.
Another helpful test is called the Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay, or MELISA test. MELISA is the only test that has been scientifically proven to detect titanium allergy and determine its severity. A little-known fact is that roughly 4% of the population has some level of allergy to titanium, so be sure to ask for this test if you are at all concerned.
Specializations That Help the Whole Body
It is safe to say that the increasing number of individuals who experience head and neck pain, including headaches, bruxism, sleep apnea, TMJ disorder, and Oral Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, roughly 22 million Americans currently suffer from some form of sleep apnea.
Three relatively new dental specializations have come about in recent years in large part in response to this alarming and unfortunate trend. They are the intertwined disciplines of neuromuscular dentistry, epigenetic orthodontics, and myofunctional therapy.
Odds are that, if you are like most people, you have never heard of these disciplines. If you or a loved one suffers from any of the head, neck, and jaw conditions mentioned above, you are going to want to know about them!
Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on the correct alignment of the jaw. Epigenetic appliances’ main focus is to provide non-surgical means of correcting facial asymmetry. Myofunctional therapy is designed to help correct the improper functioning of the muscles, tendons, and fascia in the mouth, tongue, and surrounding issues non-surgically.
Besides TMJ disorder, sleep apnea is the condition that causes the most people to turn to these specialized dental services.
“Sleep apnea is all about the tongue position,” explains Dr. Chen. “What space accommodates the tongue? The bone on the palate serves as the roof of the oral cavity. The upper jaw, lower jaw, and the teeth serve as the right and left framework of the oral cavity. Then the upper and the lower front teeth serve as the anterior border of the oral cavity. The tongue should lay comfortably in this three-dimensional space.”
“A patient can have a narrow jaw, the roof can be too high or too low, the slope of the lower jaw can be too steep,” Dr. Chen continues in reference to the many issues that individuals may have that can lead to apnea. “The front teeth, either upper or lower, can be retruded or protruded. All these variations can reduce this three-dimensional intraoral space and make it so that there is not enough room to accommodate the size of the tongue. So, where will the tongue go? The tongue can only fall back to the oropharynx area (where the airway runs from the nose to the trachea and eventually goes to the lung). The tongue will block the airway. That is apnea.”
It may sound strange that the field of dentistry would encompass these issues. After all, wouldn’t it make more sense for an osteopath, or even a chiropractor, to help with conditions related to these parts of the body?
As it turns out, the jaw is one of the most complicated joints in the whole body. Its alignment (or misalignment) can have an effect on health at all levels, including what happens in the mouth. In most cases, it takes restructuring the actual bones in the area to really rectify the problem.
“Chiropractors [can] adjust your head, your jaw, your TMJ, but if your jaw position is not right, you can get [only] short term relief. Long term it cannot hold,” explains Dr. Chen. “[Certain] appliances adjust the bone structure to the appropriate position. Then [what] the chiropractor or osteopath does may have an effect.”
Believe it or not, specialists in the field of epigenetic orthodontics and neuromuscular dentistry have discovered ways to restructure bone without surgery. This is where the “epigenetic” component comes into play. For example, one way to affect bone maneuvering for health and aesthetic reasons is for a person to wear a specialized appliance called an Anterior Growth Guidance Appliance during rest periods. This appliance is designed to work with fissures in between bony structures in the jaw to “wake up” DNA for bone regeneration and “restructure the biological structure of the teeth.”
Questions to Ask Your Dentist
Our hope is that this article will provide enough information for you to get started with confidence on your journey with holistic dentistry. Armed with this basic knowledge, we would like to leave you with the 10 MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS you need to ask any dental professional you are considering working with.
If he or she is not able to answer all of these questions with openness, confidence, and even additional resources, we would definitely consider moving on until you find the perfect holistic dentist who is right for you.
Most of all, don’t give up the search! The perfect holistic dentist is out there for you. You CAN have relief and healing from diseases that may be originating from the mouth – holistically – and help your whole body to heal in the process. We’ll leave you with some questions you can take to your next appointment to see if your dentist is really protecting your health.
7 Questions Any Truly Holistic Dentist Should Be Able to Answer with Confidence
1 | What is your position on the relationship between amalgams and disease? What about root canal and disease?
2 | What is your take on mercury in dental fillings? Do you think that it can harm the body and lead to disease?
3 | What official training have you had for amalgam filling removal? What about root canal removal?
4 | What precautions do you offer to protect your patients during the actual amalgam filling or root canal removal procedure?
5 | What oral health tests do you offer? What about heavy metal toxicity, dental materials, or oral bacteria?
6 | What support, like vitamin C supplementation, ozone therapy, or other, do you offer for healing and detoxification following the procedure?
7 | What do you know of the tooth-organ relationship? Do you believe that there is a correlation between toxic teeth and organ-specific disease?
8 | Are you connected with a network of complementary practitioners that you can connect me with if I want to get services such as myofunctional therapy, chiropractic, or another natural modality?
9 | Are you up to date with all the latest research for your profession, especially when it comes to safe practices and materials?
10 | What professional biological or holistic dental organizations do you belong to? [Note: One of the largest of such organizations is the Holistic Dental Association. Their site can also be a resource for you as well if you are searching for a true holistic dentist in your area.]
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