How a Healthy Mouth Can Create a Healthy Body
Dentists have always been considered health professionals, but some take the concept further than others. As a growing body of medical research affirms the strong connection between poor oral health and chronic disease, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, some dentists now dedicate their practices to improving and protecting overall health, not just what happens in your mouth. To learn more about the connection between your mouth and the rest of your body, I called Mark A. Breiner, DDS, founder of the Breiner Whole-Body Health Centre (Trumbull, Connecticut) and author of Whole-Body Dentistry.
Dr. Breiner explains that holistic dentists work in an entirely different paradigm. He likens standard dentistry to carpentry, calling it “a restorative profession, taking care of cavities and making crowns.” The holistic approach looks at how the state of your mouth affects and reflects everything about your health. “Everything I do is with that in mind,” he says. He asks patients to fill out extensive health forms and then spends a half-hour or so going over those at the first appointment, discussing their health in general. “I am playing detective, working to learn how their health may have been impacted by current or past dentistry that, with an additional stressor, has caused their health to take a turn for the worse.”
Dr. Breiner offered some examples of how the two approaches differ…
Gum check: Conventional dentists check for periodontal (gum) disease, associated with heart disease and stroke, by evaluating how red patients’ gums are and if they are bleeding… whereas even if gums seem healthy on examination, in Dr. Breiner’s office they investigate further by taking a plaque sample from under the gums, which is viewed under a microscope to determine whether there are destructive microbes and/or parasites.
Heavy metals: Perhaps the most controversial difference relates to the material used for fillings. The American Dental Association continues to support use of mercury-containing amalgam fillings, which some conventional dentists still use. But how can it be, asks Dr. Breiner, that mercury is considered toxic everywhere in the world but not in the mouth? He points out that after removing amalgam fillings from the mouth, the law requires him to treat them as toxic waste.
Beyond the obvious concerns about the toxicity of mercury that is in your mouth, Dr. Breiner says there are other potential health problems, too. He explains that placing dissimilar metals (mercury fillings contain 50% mercury and 50% copper, tin, zinc and silver) in a salt solution (such as saliva) creates a battery-like electrical current. If a nearby tooth then gets a gold filling, the current gets even stronger. “Every tooth is on an acupuncture meridian, so these currents can interfere with the meridian’s energy flow,” says Dr. Breiner.
Beware: Only have your mercury fillings removed by a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable in this area. He/she must know how to evaluate if your health can tolerate such removal. Unfortunately, Dr. Breiner says, he has seen too many people who are now very sick because they had their mercury removed by a practitioner ignorant on this topic.
Energy meridians: Dr. Breiner uses EAV (Electro-Acupuncture according to Voll) to test the energy of acupuncture meridians, emphasizing that this technique uses no needles. “Think of it as an energy stress test of the acupuncture points,” he says. According to Dr. Breiner, “each tooth energetically relates to a specific organ, vertebrae and/or muscle. Since this is a two-way street, with teeth affecting other parts of the body and vice versa, a root canal may be unnecessarily performed due to a problem elsewhere in the body.” EAV helps in this discovery, he believes.
Tooth extractions: Most dental anesthetics contain epinephrine, which reduces bleeding, and dentists often advise use of ice to minimize swelling. (Dr. Breiner uses an epinephrine-free alternative.) Both of these practices, however, slow blood flow and increase the likelihood of a cavitation (a hole in the bone where a tooth has been extracted and never properly healed). Such cavitations are potential reservoirs for toxins and can cause facial pain and trigeminal neuralgia (inflammation of the primary nerve going to the face). Dr. Breiner uses both X-rays and EAV to locate areas on their way to becoming cavitations and to determine if they’re likely to become problematic.
Some holistic dentists also believe that all teeth with root canals should be removed because they are breeding grounds for toxicity. Dr. Breiner does not find that to be the case, however. He says numerous factors determine whether a root canal is the cause of other problems, including the health of the associated meridian and the health of the patient.
Forecast: More Holistic Dentistry
Saying that “it is not enough to be a molar mechanic any more,” Dr. Breiner told me he believes more dentists are moving in the direction of holistic dentistry — and that a more informed public will be the catalyst that eventually transforms the dental profession. In the meantime, he reminds people that what is good for the heart is good for the mouth including coenzyme Q10, magnesium, vitamin C and other antioxidants — preferably from food and supplements that are whole-food derived.
If you are interested in finding a holistic dentist, you can contact the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, IABDM.org.