Holistic Options to Explore Before We Open Wide
Today, it’s not uncommon for professional dental services to offer perks like cushy reclining chairs, aromatherapy and relaxing music and videos. But savvy individuals seek even more: biological dentists whose holistic philosophy is based on the theory that the whole is more than the sum of its parts or symptoms. Armed with mounting evidence that supports the link between periodontal disease and heart disease, as well as diabetes and pre-term births, growing numbers of dental patients are exploring safe and healthy treatment options and protocols before taking a deep breath and opening wide.
“People who need dental work are doing research that helps them make better, more health-conscious decisions,” confirms Andrea Brockman, a doctor of dental surgery and president of OraMedica International, LLC. The dental health and wellness company works to educate consumers on how to be their own dental advocate.
“When faced with an opinion that you have evidence of gum disease,” for example, “you should be aware of the difference between short- and long-term options, as well as the real issues, which are the health consequences,” comments Brockman. It is important to keep the family physician informed, especially when faced with impending surgery, pregnancy or a family history of heart disease.
“Biocompatibility has less to do with periodontal disease than with other chronic illnesses, pain and allergies,” explains Brockman. “The more you understand ahead of time about periodontal examinations, diagnostic tests, proposed treatments and expected results, the better your questions will be during consultations with your dentist and physician.”
The same principle applies to everything from treating individual issues underlying halitosis to restoration of teeth using today’s mercury-free dental filling materials, such as composite resins and porcelains.
According to Brockman, the present void in holistic dental health care exists because medical doctors have little to no training in dentistry, and dentists aren’t licensed to treat the whole body. That gap is slowly being filled by biological dentists who consider a patient’s teeth, jaws and gums from a whole body perspective. Biological dentists also work closely with an array of healthcare professionals, including environmental physicians, acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, body workers and other holistic practitioners.
“Biological dentists are not just ‘mercury-free,’” advises Brockman. “They believe that proper nourishment, detoxification and restoration of balance and function are paramount in overall health, and that dentistry plays a vital role.” They ascribe to the Hippocratic Oath, ‘First, do no harm.’ They support their mission by taking hundreds of hours of continuing education, keeping up-to-date on studies published throughout the world, and making substantial investments in the special equipment and supplies necessary for health-conscious dental interventions, such as necessary precautions for safe removal of amalgam fillings that contain mercury.
Life circumstances and stressors, health issues and even daily activities can affect the diagnosis and treatment of oral conditions. Remarks Brockman, “Most people are surprised that chronic and acute health problems, emotional and physical stress, dietary changes, weight gain or loss, accidents, operations, travel, new medications, supplements and lack of sleep all have a lot to do with the health of gums and teeth.”
The firm belief that dental products and procedures also affect the entire body is a shared premise of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), the Holistic Dental Association (HAD) and the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM). Representing a population that still comprises less than one-half of 1 percent of practicing dentists, these organizations have established training programs, scientific studies, strict biological treatment standards and yearly conferences for biological dentists.
Individuals seeking to become their own dental advocate usually start with downloaded information from biological dental organization and consumer group websites. The following sites also offer directories of holistic, biological or mercury-free dentists:
Consumers for Dental Choice (Holistic Dental Association ( ); International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine ( ); International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology ( ) and International Association of Mercury Free Dentists ( ).
Dr. Andrea Brockman is the author of Take a Holistic Bite Out of …., a series of dental health tips booklets; the HealthyGates Dental Resource Manual; and My Dental Coach Consumer Dental Advocacy Program, a newsletter. For more information, email . Visit or .