Holistic Dentistry & Orthodontics Questions
(also known as biologic, mercury free, and whole person dentist)
The Simple Answer: Holistic dentistry is an alternative approach to dentistry that believes your oral health is absolutely interconnected to your overall health. It focuses on using biocompatible (non-toxic) restorative materials, eliminating infections, and promoting optimal teeth / jaw / head / neck structural relationships. Because no dentist can “do it all,” they will often work together with a wide variety of healthcare professionals promoting integrated, complimentary care. The focus of a true Holistic Dentist is to identify areas of oral disease and structural dysfunction that may be negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of the patient. As a rule, they will then use for the least invasive, least traumatic, and least toxic means of diagnosis and treatment. True holistic care supports the body’s natural abilities of self-healing and regeneration.
The Detailed Answer: First it must be explained what all holistic dentists have in common. They have all graduated from a Post Graduate (Doctoral) Program for Dentistry and are certified with the credentials DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Beyond that things get a little complicated…. For the most part, a person who defines themself as a “Holistic Dentist” is someone who graduated from dental school and at some point came to the conclusion that the impacts of dental therapies could be seen throughout the body. They came to believe that the mouth is not disconnected from the rest of the body, and that anything done in the mouth can have significant positive or negative effects on the overall health of the patient. Unfortunately because there is no “School of Holistic Dentistry,” there is no standard by which you, the consumer, can evaluate a holistic dentist. Every Holistic Dentist’s path is unique and different because their post-dental school education is unique and different. The education of some may have emphasized heavy metal (mercury) toxicity, or orthopedic orthodontics, while others may have focused on nutrition and preventative programs. The point is, knowing the dentist’s educational background will give you a good idea what their beliefs and philosophies are, and will therefore help you determine who may be a good fit with your own personal beliefs. These are some of the different beliefs / philosophies of holistic dentists – in order of most to least common: • Not Using Amalgam / Mercury Fillings • • Knowing and Practicing Proper Mercury Removal • • Consideration of Heavy Metal Issues (Electrical / Toxic) • • Multi-disciplinary (Integrated) Healthcare • • Nutritional / Preventative Therapies • • Orthopedic Orthodontics / TMJ Therapy • • Cavitations • • Treatment / Diagnosis of Restricted Breathing • **NOTE: It is increasingly popular for dentists to call themselves holistic, mercury-free, or biological dentists simply because they no longer use mercury / silver fillings. Make sure any dentist you are considering has received advanced training in the proper handling of mercury / silver fillings that are already in your mouth – as prescribed by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT – www.iaomt.org). According to the IAOMT, Mercury / amalgam / silver filling removal without following these guidelines may be hazardous to your health as well as the health of the dental practice team.** For more information regarding the nature of holistic dentistry you may find this link useful… Answers.com – Definition and History of Holistic Dentistry A great article about the overall impacts of dentistry and oral-facial health on overall health & wellbeing
Root canal treatment is the removal of the tooth’s pulp (includes nerves, blood and lymph vessels), a small, thread-like tissue in the center of the tooth. Once the damaged, diseased or dead pulp is removed, the remaining space is cleaned, shaped and filled. There is some controversy surrounding the use of this therapy due to dental medicine not being able to completely sterilize the tooth structure. There is a great deal of information available out there on the internet as well as in books regarding what each side of the controversy has to say. Wikipedia provides a great description of root canals
Currently, when a patient requests a root canal, we will refer the patient to an Endodontist (Root Canal Specialist) for treatment. We always provide the patient with options and explain that due to the internal structure of a tooth, complete sterilization of the root is not possible. Historically, there has been some disagreement in the dental industry regarding the overall health implications of root canal therapy. There was a period of time in the 1900s when significant studies showed root canals to have substantial negative health implications and dentists across the nation began extracting root canaled teeth. Currently there are still dentists that have concerns about the safety of root canals, though the majority of dentists consider them to be safe. Here are some sites you can go to for further research…
The ADA’s official stance and FAQs Interview with Dr. George Meing (Author of “Root Canal Cover-Up”) A medical doctor’s views on root canals TMJ & Facial Pain Center – Dr. Wesley Shankland An interview between Dr. Mercola and Dr. George Mening regarding root canals and cavitations
We do not do implant surgery at our office. If a patient requests this procedure we have dentists to whom we refer, and we can send him/her. Once the implant has been placed, we can restore the implant with a crown (2nd phase of implant therapy).
The majority of the time, when an extraction is needed, we will send the patient to one of the Oral Surgeons we work with.
If we extract teeth (other than 3rd molars / wisdom teeth) for the purpose of “having room to straighten the teeth” (in other words for aesthetic purposes), it will almost certainly have the result of reducing the size of the jaws and the vertical dimension (distance between tip of the nose and bottom of the chin) of the face. Why are these differences important? When the size of the jaws are reduced the tongue (strongest muscle in the body) does not shrink to match its new environment. This means it will likely be forced backward into the throat, interfering with the function of naso-pharyngeal airway. This can have a variety of negative, bodywide effects. When we reduce the vertical dimensions of the jaws we increase the stresses and pressures experienced by the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), which can result in significant structural problems as these forces mount over time. See below for symptoms and consequences of TMJ problems.
We perform Functional Jaw Orthopedics (FJO), also known as Orthopedic Orthodontics, whose focus is providing the best possible structural foundation for the teeth and jaws while reducing / eliminating the need for extractions. According to leaders in the field, in approximately 90% of cases where extractions are recommended, FJO can provide excellent results without removing teeth that are not 3rd molars. This is a progressive form of treatment that uses both fixed and removable appliances to straighten teeth and jaws, allowing us to get good results while addressing a wide range of complex cases. FJO treatment works with natural jaw / mouth growth and development to help patients obtain their optimal oral and physical health, resulting in beautiful broad smiles. At Health Centered Dentistry, we are committed to providing excellent, technologically advanced treatment options and spend hundreds of hours in continuing education EVERY YEAR! Our most recent philosophical / therapeutic additions include Damon™ Brackets (braces) – faster acting and more cranially friendly, as well as increased attention to tongue / airway function.
Fixed Appliance Orthodontics or “braces”, uses brackets bonded to each tooth. Wires are then connected the brackets, providing the gradual forces necessary to move teeth.
Removable Appliance Orthodontics use sophisticated removable appliances that work in harmony with specific muscle forces and growth patterns to move the teeth and develop the jaws.
Excellent Reference Material and Videos for Functional Jaw Orthopedics: Functional Jaw Orthopedics with the ALF Appliance – Educational website for the ALF National Health Report: Straight Teeth With A Healthier Twist – Dr. Darick Nordstrom (6 minutes) 60 Minutes: Part 1 Healthier Orthodontic Options (8 minutes) 60 Minutes: Part 2 Healthier Orthodontic Options (8 minutes) Adult Orthodontics Video – A Health Enhancing Process – Dr. William Hang (8 minutes) Face Focused – Website of Dr. William Han
Functional Jaw Orthopedics treat patients at an earlier age when problems can be recognized, and usually aims to make enough room in the jaws for teeth to fit. This technique usually results in broader, healthier smiles. Traditional orthodontics treats later on in life, usually with more extractions of teeth, which can result in narrower smiles, retruded (flattened) profiles, and loss of vertical support. Because the difference in smile results can be seen, FJO treatment is increasingly popular even as the removal of teeth has been decreasing. The bottom line is this: most people who need orthodontic treatment have crowded teeth. Therefore, you can start early to make room for teeth, or you accept that later your options become increasingly limited. Early intervention may ensure that more invasive and expensive options (extractions or jaw surgery) may be avoided. Functional Jaw Orthopedics is progressive and, most importantly, shows excellent clinical results – wider smiles. FJO treatment is practiced by a growing number of highly skilled general dentists, pedodontists, and orthodontists in both Europe and North America www.smilepage.com.
A Functional Jaw examination can take place as early as two years old, when all the baby teeth have erupted and the upper and lower jaws function together. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic consultation by age seven. Because Functional Jaw Orthopedics emphasizes early treatment to prevent and correct jaw alignments, appliances could be prescribed as early as age 2, 3 or 4. Just as with modern early orthopedic correction of crooked feet, early jaw orthopedics is better than delaying while crooked growth occurs. We strongly recommend that shortly after birth every baby be seen for cranio-sacral therapy (upledger.com). The birth process is very traumatic and many issues that develop later in life can be helped / corrected by some simple therapies when they are still babies. Craniosacral therapy: Healthline – general therapy definition & overview Upledger Institute – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) Upledger Institute – Some great testimonials and stories Upledger Clinic – More great testimonials Craniosacral work and babies / children: The Birth Ecology Project – Excellent overview of benefits of craniosacral work for infants Kellymom Breastfeeding and Parenting MyBreastfeeding.com stressing the importance of Craniosacral Therapy
Any records you bring can be useful. That being said, we require recent, accurate records to offer the most appropriate recommendations; therefore, we often need to supplement records that are brought to us with our own diagnostics.
No. We have treated patients from 8 weeks old to patients in their 80’s. The body is almost never too old or young to respond to this positive treatment
TMJ is the abbreviation for Temporomandibular Joint and is often used to indicate problems, or dysfunction, with the joint. TMD is the abbreviation for Temporomandibular Dysfunction and refers to problems or dysfunctions surrounding the TMJ.
TMJ disorders have many signs and symptoms. It’s often hard to know for sure if you have TMJ, because one or all of these symptoms can also show up as a result of other health issues. We can help make a proper diagnosis by taking a complete medical and dental history, conducting a clinical examination, and taking appropriate X-rays, CT Scans or MRI imaging. Some of the most common TMJ symptoms include:
- Headaches (often mimicking migraines)
- Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely, or chewing
- Jaws that “get stuck,” lock or “go out” of position
- Pain and / or pressure behind the eyes
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
We need specific diagnostic records and a health history to correctly diagnose a TMJ disorder.
The records needed may include but are not limited to the following: Panoramic x-ray: This
x-ray shows the entire mouth area – all the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws – as well as the jawbones and sinuses in a single view. Cephalometric x-ray: This type of X-ray shows a side view of the head and neck, it is useful for examining the teeth in relation to the jaw and profile of the individual. Study models/casts: These are impressions of the upper and lower teeth, they are used to evaluate the start position of teeth and are used to create appliances. Diagnostic Photos: These photos help us to analyze facial imbalances, postural issues, and record the initial position of teeth. Jaw record: This is a wax impression of how the upper and lower teeth fit together.
This depends on your specific Dental/Medical Insurance. We have found the best success in payment from insurance companies comes about when the patient plays an active role in corresponding with the insurance company personally.
Very simply, a cavitation is a “hole” in a bone. When dentists speak of cavitations they are speaking of areas of the jawbone where the bone has been infected and the body has attempted to wall off the infection. The end result is a semi-contained “bubble” of infectious bacteria, dead (necrotic) bone material, and other toxins. This toxic sludge will slowly leak out (eventually), spreading to other areas of the body and can negatively impact the overall health of the patient – focal infection theory. These are all scientific facts that are taught to every medical doctor and dentist that graduates from an accredited medical/dental school in the United States. The difficulty lies in diagnosing these hidden areas of bacteriological infection.
It is believed that cavitations mainly develop as a direct result of incomplete healing from some form of trauma to the jawbone. There are many types of trauma that can begin this process. The list of such traumas include tooth extractions, root canals, jaw surgery, and restorations (crowns or fillings) that are “left too high” and cause a mini-trauma with every bite. Other causes of cavitation formation are reduced or poor circulation in the jawbone, clotting disorders, and the use of steroids, blood clotting medications or some osteoporosis drugs. It has also been found that periodontal disease may increase the likelihood of a person developing a jawbone cavitation.
As a Biological Dentist I believe the conditions present in a patient’s mouth are a reflection of their overall health. In accordance with ancient Chinese medicine, the mouth is a reflection of the person’s total health. Ancient Chinese physicians would examine the patient’s teeth, gums, tongue and oral cavity before they examined the rest of patient’s body. In biological dentistry, we stress the use of non-toxic restorative materials for dental work and focus on the unrecognized impact that dental toxins, dead teeth and hidden dental infections can have on the patient’s overall health. I believe tooth decay, periodontal disease, materials used in restorations, root canaled teeth and infected past extraction sites are all factors that may affect a patient’s health. A condition in one part of a patient’s body may be the cause of a health issue located in another part of the patient’s body. This condition is called Focal Infection Theory. We see Focal Infection Theory when patients are suffering from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, thyroid dysfunction, infertility, kidney dysfunction, breathing problems, cancer, digestive complications, joint pain and limited joint motion just to mention a few. This is not to say that the patient became ill as a result of their mouth problem(s) but that it may be a contributing factor.*
Each patient’s treatment choice will be different depending on his/her needs and desires. Our recommendations can range from oral surgery, ozone and laser therapy, homeopathic care or no treatment at all. To make an informed decision regarding which is most appropriate, considerable research into each option should be done, as each option has its own set of pros and cons.
Dr. Shankland is one of the premiere doctors working in the field of cavitations. This page contains most of the material any one person will need to understand all aspects of cavitations, though there is some bias toward surgical solutions. (Click Here) Whole Body Dentistry author Dr. Mark Breiner – Overview, Further information… Part 1, Part 2 Susan Stockton has written several books covering holistic dentistry and here she defines cavitations. Susan Stockton talks about cavitations and treatment priorities. Therapuetic options involving ozone: Whole Body Dentistry – about halfway down the page An interview between Dr. Mercola and Dr. George Mening regarding root canals and cavitations An interview between Laura Lee and Dr. Georg Mening regarding root canals (Part 1) Part 2 of that Interview
Snoring/Sleep Disturbance/OSB Treatment
Dentists are qualified to diagnose oral pharyngeal airway obstructions. These obstructions can contribute to sleep disturbance, sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, or day apnea. However, in order to diagnose a sleep disturbance, sleep apnea or even day apnea, a person must have their doctor prescribe a sleep study be performed. Then either the doctor in charge of the sleep study program or the person’s doctor will evaluate the results from the sleep study and determine if the patient is suffering from any form of sleep disturbance.Once a positive diagnosis has been made, the patient may request a referral for dental / oral therapies treating sleep disturbance. In order for us to diagnose an airway obstruction issue we need specific diagnostic records along with a detail specific health history. The records needed include but are not limited to the following: Cephalometric x-ray: This type of X-ray shows a side view of the head and neck, it is useful for examining the teeth in relation to the jaw and profile of the individual. Study models/casts: These are impressions of the upper and lower teeth, they are used to evaluate the start position of teeth and are used to create appliances. Diagnostic Photos: These photos help us to analyze facial imbalances, postural issues, and record the initial position of teeth. Jaw record: This is a wax impression of how the upper and lower teeth fit together.
This will depend on the results of the diagnostic records, what is recommended and what you as the patient choose. Remember, wearing an appliance is a small price to pay if the result is a higher quality of life.