Dentists and dentistry can contribute to the health of our patients in many ways by treating dental disease, infections and improving dental function through restoring teeth and correcting issues with poorly aligned bites.
However, I believe that through our narrow field of training and focusing solely on the structures of the teeth, jaws, mouth and throat and functionality whereby we are constantly fixing problems after they occur rather than proactively seeking to prevent and reduce issues, dentists and dentistry, as a whole, fails the public in several other essential areas.
As a holistic dentist it is my mission and vision to highlight the weaknesses of our profession and the training we receive in regards to the oral-systemic connection (your mouth and your body impact on each other) so that dental professionals and educators can improve the delivery of the oral and overall health of our patients.
I believe it is our duty to support and empower you to understand where the approach of conventional dentistry is lacking so that you understand better your needs, what to ask of your dentist and other health professionals and how to take charge of your own dental health and wellbeing.
The Three Blind Spots of Dentistry- The missing parts of the dental health and wellness puzzle.
There are 3 main areas where dentistry is in the dark when it comes to preventing health issues and dental disease:
1. Dentists Don’t Always Understand Potential Toxicity
Many dental materials, medicines, and procedures that are used routinely in the dental office, such as methacrylate, amalgam silver fillings, bisphenol A (BPA) in white fillings, have been shown to be potentially toxic to human cells. Of course, toxicity usually depends on the dose and the frequency of exposure. But if a toxic element is in the mouth, then its presence could be potentially harmful.
Dental amalgam contains mercury, which leaks out of the filling as a vapour creating long-term exposure to a heavy metal that is well know to be toxic to the body at any dose, yet dentists are taught that it is perfectly safe and that the mercury is somehow bound within the filling.
2. The Underlying Causes of Dental Diseases
Many studies have shown that just removing dental plaque by brushing and flossing alone does not improve oral health. In fact you can have lots of plaque and tartar and have no gum disease as long as your diet adequately supports your health. And conversely you can have what appears to be a clean mouth yet the gums are still inflamed and unhealthy due to poor diet and underlying health and lifestyle factors.
Research has shown that diet plays a bigger role in gum disease and tooth decay than mouth bacteria in isolation. In these studies when people changed from a diet largely comprising of highly-processed carbohydrates and inflammatory foods to a diet excluding these foods signs of gum disease decreased. Hence your diet is just as, if not more, important as brushing and flossing when it comes to keeping your gums and teeth healthy.
Yet when I was at dental school (and I know this is still the case) we received no training in diet and nutrition beyond a one-hour lecture telling us about how sugar in foods and drinks causes tooth decay.
Nutrition and the right balance of minerals and vitamins plus anti-inflammatory foods are crucial to preventing tooth decay and gum disease as I have discussed in numerous blogs and videos.
3. Gut Health Relationship.
Our modern lifestyle and diet tends to be detrimental to health. We are exposed to toxic elements and chemicals in the environment; this leads to toxic substances accumulating in the body. We consume processed, high sugar containing pro-inflammatory foods, which alters the environment in our gut, and hence the type of gut bacteria that are present.
Toxicity, inflammation and a change in gut bacteria are major factors that can damage the gut and create an over population of unhealthy gut bacteria. This state of being is called gut dysbiosis, which causes damage to the gut making it “leaky”. Leakage of waste and metabolites from a damaged gut into the bloodstream and the lymph fluid can cause systemic chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system. Both systemic chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system can cause havoc in other body tissues, including the mouth.
In the mouth, chronic inflammation and a poor immune response may cause an overgrowth of pathological bacteria and increased susceptibility to gum disease and tooth decay.
We become caught is a vicious cycle where ongoing unhealthy food choices continue to feed the pathological bacteria in our gut and mouth. These pathological bad bacteria will cause advanced gum disease called periodontal disease and tooth decay if not treated and brought back under control.
4. Oral-Systemic Link
It is also well documented that dental diseases potentially could affect all other areas in the body, causing a nasty back-and-forth cycle between the mouth, the gut, and other tissues of the body. Dental disease is now implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, stokes, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, pre-term births, respiratory tract infections, high blood pressure and cancers.
We as dentists cannot afford to have these blind spots when it comes to dental disease and the oral-systemic link and we need to educate ourselves and alter the way dentists are trained so as to be able to address these issues and truly help our patients to have better health and smiles.
If you would like to know more about a holistic approach to dental care the contact Evolve Dental Healing to book a consultation with Dr Rachel Hall today.