By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN
As I’ve mentioned before, there are no silver bullets.
The best question to begin with is not “Are mercury fillings the problem?” but “What are all the factors that may be contributing to the illness or dysfunction?” This helps us identify all potential sources of homotoxins, whether of dental origin or otherwise. It also can cue us to the possibility of dental foci – the source of many chronic and degenerative diseases, recurrent illnesses, allergic reactions and unclear ailments such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Taking this kind of approach means that healing is not a one time event but a process – in Reckeweg’s terms, a regressive vicariation guided by the Physiological Defense System, or what Pischinger alternatively called the body’s Basic Regulative System. Regardless of the name, the task is the same: removing homotoxins or compensating for them and the damage they do.
And this is the thing that gives us hope and optimism, for it means that the progression of illness is not inevitable. Illness can be reversed. The body can be encouraged to heal itself; right-to-left movement from illness to health, induced.
This is true healing.
Biological Dentistry: A Whole Systems Approach
Despite what you might read on various websites or Internet forums, removing amalgam fillings, root canal teeth and so on is not the be-all, end-all of biological dentistry, let alone achieving wellness. Biological dentistry is a total, whole-systems approach – organic and comprehensive.
Every day, we’re confronted with the fact that chronic disease is epidemic in this country. It consumes vast amounts of medical resources and affects nearly every adult by middle age. According to the CDC, almost half of all adult Americans have at least one chronic disease, and 70% of deaths are due to chronic disease – mostly heart disease, cancer and stroke.
We spend more and more on health care, and what do we have to show for it? A life expectancy lower than that of most other developed nations. A health care system that ranks 37th in performance among WHO member nations, between Costa Rica and Slovenia. In terms of overall health, the US ranks 72nd – a step below Argentina, a step above Bhutan. The Commonwealth Fund ranks the US last in quality of health care among similar countries, despite its costing the most.
In light of such statistics, it’s no surprise that so many of our incoming clients are clearly frustrated with the way the medical establishment has treated their chronic conditions. They see physicians as attacking symptoms while ignoring root causes and failing to address the patient as a whole human being. They don’t see them striving for wellness, let alone optimal health. They see them trying to stop symptoms with a prescription pad and a 10 minute office visit.
This approach feeds another phenomenon: fear-driven medicine. Doctors are burdened by two rivaling fears: 1) the fear of making a mistake and being sued by the patient; and 2) the fear of punishment by their boards the authorities who supervise and license them if they dare depart from accepted standards of practice, regardless of whether those standards are actually sound or even helpful to the patient.
These fears are real, and they root deep in a person’s psyche. It’s classical conditioning, where the threat of losing your license eventually evokes a reflexive fear response. It’s a short step from here to becoming Pavlovian in your decision-making. You start to practice defensive medicine. You over-test and over-treat, and this drives costs even higher. New technology, tests and treatments only add to the cost over time.
The impact of this affects more than just patients’ pocketbooks. It impacts their health. Treating symptoms instead of root causes often leads to the rise of new symptoms – euphemistically called “side effects” – which then require treatments of their own.
The illness then becomes a convolution of more symptoms. The physician prescribes yet more medicine, and up goes the risk of these different symptoms becoming another disease as the initial condition morphs into others.
The treatment of disorder causes even greater disorder. Recovery becomes more difficult. Further diagnosis of the root cause becomes impossible.
This is what happens when you treat symptoms instead of whole people and the root causes of disease. And the same holds for so-called “alternative” dentistry and medicine, too. While removing mercury fillings may be an important step on the healing path, it’s not sufficient. Just like drug therapy, it addresses a part of the problem while remaining ignorant to the whole.
“The Terrain Is Everything…”
In a number of our office newsletters, we’ve looked at the concept of what Pischinger called the Basic Regulative System and what old school German medicine called “uncoupling” – a concept more familiar to us how as “homeostasis.” Homeostasis – from the Greek homois, meaning “same,” and stasis, meaning “standing still” – is the state of inner balance and stability maintained by the human body despite constant changes in the external environment. Nearly every bodily process involves keeping this balance – from kidneys filtering the blood and removing carefully regulated amounts of waste to the lungs working with the heart, blood vessels and blood to distribute oxygen throughout the body and remove waste. The word was coined in the early 20th century by Walter Bradford Cannon, elaborating on Claude Bernard’s original concept of the milieu intrieur (interior environment), or what we call the “biological terrain.”
A healthy, resilient biological terrain is the foundation of health and wellness. Any therapy that fails to address the condition of the terrain is one that focuses on symptoms instead of causes, the parts instead of the whole.
Currently, no US dental schools teach that root canal filled teeth can adversely affect one’s health, though they are now beginning to teach the relationship between gum disease and conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. Mainstream dental research is also showing that certain microbes found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients can only be found in one other place in the body: periodontal pockets in the mouth the areas we measure when we probe your gums at each of your regular preventive maintenance visits.
My hope is that over time, the dental establishment will continue to move in this direction, understanding and appreciating the connection between the mouth and the rest of the body, the whole guided by the state of the biological terrain.
In the meantime, we’re left with the reality of chronic illness that confronts us daily in our office.
Both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of the American Dental Association have run editorials encouraging front-line physicians and dentists take as many classes as possible so they can be on the cutting edge and better able to treat the increasing numbers of chronically ill patients, even as they acknowledge the difficulty in treating them, due to the multiplicity of symptoms.
Over more than four decades of practicing dentistry here in Central California, I have consistently pursued a greater understanding of what could be referred to as “whole-body dentistry” – a journey described in one of the first articles we placed on our website, “Evolution of a Practice.”
So often, we hear from people who contact our office for second and even third or fourth opinions on their health conditions. They have had their silver fillings, root canals or other problem dental work removed yet don’t feel better and have been told that the problem wasn’t with the treatment but that they are just “resistant” to treatment – a statement akin to that of establishment physicians who tell these complex patients that their illness is all in their head or just a problem they must live with, an illness that must be “managed” for the rest of their life.
Of course, being able to diagnose true resistance means recognizing and resolving blockages in the biological terrain. The dentist unfamiliar with this must be able to refer his or her patients to other natural, integrative health professionals who have insight and expertise different from that of the dentist.
Then the dentist can be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of patients.