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My Expertise in Holistic Dentistry
My personal area of expertise in holistic dentistry is the high quality replacement of mercury amalgam fillings with mercury free and metal free options. Because these treatment strategies are such an important part of who I am, I have dedicated entire sections of the website to them. For more information on mercury free dentistry, click on the button below.
For me, holistic dentistry implies that we are following the basic principles of medicine outlined by Hippocrates. Nearly 2500 years ago he instructed his peers in medicine as follows:
- First Do No Harm
- Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease
What is Holistic Dentistry?
My holistic dental practice is constructed upon these principles. When providing dental care, my core principles include:
Never treat when you can prevent or heal instead
When you must treat, provide technical excellence using minimally invasive methods and non-toxic materials
Employ safeguards to protect against exposure to known toxins like mercury
Use treatments that stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal
Philosophy of Care
The future of dentistry . . . healing instead of restoring
Many of you probably feel invigorated after a thunderstorm or during a stroll along the beach. If so, ozone may be at least partly responsible for your feelings of youthful energy. Ozone (O3) is an energized form of oxygen. It is that clean, fresh smell you notice during a thunderstorm and it has been known as a powerful medicine for more than 100 years. In many ways, ozone is a perfect medicine . . . it completely destroys bacteria, mold, yeast and viruses while simultaneously stimulating the immune system. Ozone allows us to treat many dental conditions in a very conservative manner.
We are currently using ozone therapy in the following ways:
Gum Disease / Infections
Because gum disease is an infection and ozone can eliminate infection, irrigating periodontal pockets with O3 water and O3 gas is highly beneficial. Used in this manner, O3 not only helps arrest the progression of the disease but also helps prevent tooth decay on exposed root surfaces. For some patients a custom tray that fits snugly over the teeth and gums can be made. O3 gas is then passed into the tray for a period of time every few months to help maintain periodontal health and prevent decay.
Ozone is mainly used in dentistry for the prevention and reversal of cavities. Certain types of cavities can be reversed by exposing them to ozone gas . . . eliminating the need for a filling. Washing teeth with ozonated water, just prior to restoring them, is an excellent way to sterilize the tooth and prevent sensitivity. Ozone is extremely beneficial when the tooth nerve has been damaged by decay. Using O3 water followed by O3 gas will often prevent the nerve from dying, thus preventing the need for a root canal or extraction.
Irrigation of a surgical site with O3 water will dramatically speed healing and reduce the possibility of infection.
Cold Sores and Canker Sores
When exposed to ozone gas, cold sores and canker sores heal rapidly. We have also discovered that when treated with ozone the sores may not ever return to the same place again.
Using Advanced Materials, Methods and Technology to Conserve Tooth Structure and Heal Cavities
I hate dental crowns and caps! Why? Because I am a tooth conserving dentist. I practice dentistry by the golden rule of medicine . . . first do no harm. No matter how you look at it, grinding away healthy tooth structure is harmful. Once you loose tooth structure, whether to decay or the dentist’s drill, it’s gone forever. Loosing tooth structure starts the “dental cycle of destruction” so common with traditional dentistry:
Cavity develops . . . tooth is ground away and a filling is placed
Filling leaks, bacteria invades, decay forms under the filling . . . more tooth ground away and a larger filling is placed
Large filling weakens the tooth, tooth breaks . . . tooth is ground down to a stub and a crown or cap is placed
Crown leaks and damages the tooth nerve . . . root canal is performed
Root canalled tooth fails . . . tooth is extracted
Teeth adjacent to missing tooth are ground down to stubs . . . bridge placed
Bridge leaks and damages the tooth nerve . . . and the cycle continues
What if we could break the dental cycle of destruction? What if you could heal cavities instead of grinding and filling teeth? What if instead of placing fillings that leak and weaken teeth you could restore them to their natural healthy state? What if you never had to amputate and mutilate another tooth for a crown—avoiding eventual crown failure, root canal and extraction? What if all this space age dentistry was available now?
You can stop wishing . . . Ultra-conservative dentistry technology is available today! Cavities can be healed with proper nutrition and ozone therapy. Teeth can be conservatively restored with composite resin and porcelain in ways that save your precious tooth structure and seal out bacterial leakage—making them strong and durable, the way nature intended. Using advanced ceramics and adhesives, it is now possible to use small inlays and onlays that work more like your own teeth than the large porcelain crowns used in traditional dentistry.
The style of dentistry that conservatively restores teeth and mimics their natural state is called Biomimetic Dentistry . . . using modern materials and methods to treat weak, fractured, and decayed teeth—keeping them strong and sealing them from bacterial invasion. Conserving tooth structure and careful sealing against invasion eliminates the need for the vast majority of the crowns and root canals associated with traditional dentistry. And get this . . . using CEREC technology, we can often complete ultra-conservative, biomimetic porcelain onlays in a single visit. No more impressions, no more temporaries, no more second visits, no more getting numb twice to treat one tooth!
Traditional crown preparation
When performing a traditional crown procedure, the dentist amputates healthy tooth structure all the way to the gum line, leaving only a nub of tooth behind. Over time, most teeth treated in this manner will fail—requiring either a new crown, root canal or extraction.
Biomimetic onlay preparation
When performing a biomimetic procedure, only the structurally compromised and decayed parts of the tooth are removed. Notice the amount of healthy tooth structure left intact. Teeth treated this way are far less likely to fail over time . . . stopping the cycle of dental destruction and negating the eventual need for crown, root canal and extraction.
Amalgam fillings replaced with biomimetic inlay and onlay
These were cracked and damaged by old mercury amalgam fillings. The cracks allowed bacteria to invade and significant amounts of decay had formed under the fillings. Instead of grinding them down for crowns, they were restored with ultra-conservative, biomimetic inlay and onlay ceramic restorations.
Avoiding Root Canals
If you’ve read my answer in the FAQ section to “what is your opinion of root canals”, it’s clear that I’m not a fan of this common dental procedure. Based on my experience and the available research data, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a healthy root canal.
To understand why I feel this way, let’s talk a bit about the root canal process. If you were to slice a tooth in half, you would see the following:
- an outer shell of enamel covering the tooth crown
- an inner core of dentin
- the dental pulp occupying the very center of the tooth
- various pulp—filled canals running through the center of the roots
The pulp is composed primarily of blood vessels and nerves . . . they feed the tooth and give it feeling. If bacteria travel through the dentin and invade the pulp, it becomes infected and will eventually die. Once the nerve is dead, it remains infected and cannot be regenerated. This is typically when a root canal is recommended.
The root canal process goes something like this:
A small hole is drilled in the top of the tooth to access the pulp chamber
The entry for each individual canal is identified
Long, narrow files are used to remove the pulp from each canal
The canals are sealed with a thermoplastic material
Complex Anatomy of the Roots
As explained, it sounds pretty straight forward . . . the devil is in the details. The cartoon drawings I used above don’t tell the whole story. Looking a little closer we discover that the actual 3-D anatomy of the root canal system is extremely complex . . . it forms thin ribbons, branches and interconnections that make complete mechanical removal of the infected pulp virtually impossible. This means some of the pulp and bacteria are always left behind.
Also, the roots are made of dentin. A closer look at the structure of dentin reveals it contains millions of microscopic tubules. Bacteria from the infected pulp reside in these tubules and are not removed by root canal therapy.
This is why I believe there is no such thing as a healthy root canal . . . no matter who well the procedure is done, bacteria will always remain in the tooth. Even worse, the oxygen carrying blood vessels are removed during the root canal process creating what is called an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment. In the absence of oxygen, the bacteria trapped within the tooth mutate into anaerobic species and spew extremely toxic substances into the bloodstream.
As you already know, I’m a different kind of dentist. I believe the health of your mouth can dramatically affect the health of your body. I also believe that our number one mandate as health care providers is “first do no harm”. In my opinion, root canals are not a healthy treatment option.
The great news is that very often, the need for a root canal can be entirely prevented:
- good nutrition can prevent or reverse decay
- ozone can heal deep decay that might otherwise threaten the dental pulp
- conservative, biomimetic inlay and onlay restorations avoid injuring the pulp—aggressive crown procedures often damage the pulp
I’m ready to replace my fillings . . . will the new materials be any better?
I’ve been a mercury-free dentist for a long time so I understand the process that people go through when deciding to replace their mercury fillings. Once the decision has been made to replace them, the next question is usually . . . what will you replace them with? The answer is . . . it depends on your immune system.
Environmental sensitivity or allergy is a well know immune system phenomenon that may cause problems throughout the body. You can be sensitive to food, you can be sensitive to chemicals in the environment, and you can be sensitive to the materials used to restore your teeth.
Most dentists believe that if a material carries an FDA “Seal of Approval” that it is safe and effective for everyone. However, the approval process for dental materials has very little to do with long-term safety. Rather, the process focuses on esthetics of the product, its strength and durability when placed in the mouth and its ease of use by the dentist.
When appropriate or when requested, we utilize the Clifford Materials Reactivity Testing (CMRT) to help identify which of the 6300 available dental products are best tolerated by your immune system. The Clifford Test may be useful for any patient who desires the peace of mind that comes from knowing the dental materials placed in their mouth will be well tolerated by their immune system. In addition, several groups of people may derive special benefits from the added safety of materials reactivity testing:
- People with a history of dental material compatibility problems
- People with severe immune system compromise
- People with identified autoimmune diseases or conditions
- People with endocrine, liver or kidney problems
- People with environmental illness
- People with severe allergies
- People with known sensitivity to jewelry, watchbands, clothing fasteners
- People who receive daily doses of numerous medications
- People facing high-cost, complex dental restoration
- People previously treated by multiple unrelated healthcare professionals
While Clifford testing can be useful, especially for the people listed above, we have studied the trends from the nearly 50,000 patients already tested and found that certain materials test suitable in the vast majority of people. These safe materials are the ones we routinely use in our practice and feel confident that they are well tolerated in people with normal body chemistry.
Tooth Organ Chart
The concept of a Mind-Body connection has been all over the news lately, but have you heard about the Tooth-Body connection?
If you’re familiar with Chinese Medicine or acupuncture, then you’ve heard about meridians—the channels through which energy flows in the body. Each organ, gland and body structure has an associated meridian . . . including the teeth. All the body structures on an individual meridian can be affected when energy flow through that meridian is altered or blocked. One way energy flow is altered in a meridian is when an organ on that meridian is diseased or infected.
What does all this mean to you? Well, if you have a bad tooth, the energy flow through the meridian belonging to that tooth may be altered. This in turn can affect the health of all the other organs on that meridian. The example below shows that the upper right first molar tooth is on the same meridian with the liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach and breast. So, if this tooth has a problem it may affect energy flow through the meridian and the health of your liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach or breast may be affected as well.
The interactive tooth chart below will help clarify this concept. It’s really interesting and fun . . . play around with it and see what you come up with.