Originally published December 10, 2012
Look at, say, a random 20 websites on “biological dentistry,” and no one could blame you for being unsure as to what the specialty is all about. The term gets used in a lot of different ways, not always accurately.
For instance, you may see it applied to a practice that doesn’t use mercury amalgam or other metals in their dental work. But that’s just mercury-free dentistry. If strict protocols are followed for handling mercury (such as those of the IAOMT), it’s also mercury-safe. And yes, if mercury toxicity is your concern, you definitely want a dentist who is both. Biological dentistry is, but this isn’t what defines it. There are plenty of non-biological mercury-free practices around. (You can read all about our own office’s amalgam removal protocols here.)
Similarly, you may see “biological dentistry” used to describe practices that rely on compatibility testing and insist on biocompatible dental materials. These things are commendable but also not definitive.
Much closer to biological practice are those that focus on “the oral-systemic link” – how oral conditions can reflect and contribute to disease and dysfunction throughout the body. Yet if it ends with root canals as a source of focal infection, say, or concern about pathogenic bacteria spreading through the body, that understanding is incomplete.
And this is often how it goes, with “biological” seemingly used as shorthand or a catch-all for many kinds of non-establishment practices, not the singular specialty it is. Unfortunately, this can wind up doing a disservice to patients. Too often we hear their stories about having their amalgams or root canal teeth removed without experiencing the healing they expected and that biological dentistry can provide.
As co-founder of the first US professional group devoted to biological dentistry, Dr. Verigin can speak authoritatively as to its nature. The seed was planted in 1985, when he and colleague Dr. Ed Arana both attended
a class featuring Reinhold Voll, MD. There, this German inventor of the diagnostic tool EAV (electroacupuncture according to Voll) spoke of a new field developing in Germany: biological dentistry. The practice was showing how illness can often be traced to oral-dental conditions, either as a cause or aggravating factor. It affirmed dentists as true medical specialists, not mere mechanics of teeth. German dentists were blending homeopathy, acupuncture and related remedies with standard clinical practice to help people support their bodies’ natural processes of self-healing.
This hit home with Drs. Arana and Verigin. Each had long been dissatisfied with the “one tooth dentistry” practiced by most American dentists—an approach that sees the teeth and oral tissues as isolated from the rest of the body. They knew it just didn’t correspond with human physiology. Alone, each had sought something better. Both wanted a more informed dentistry. They saw biological dentistry as fully accounting for the systemic nature of health and illness, and the body’s self-regulating ability. [emphasis added]
Thus, as they put it in their founding statement,
21st Century Medicine will be concerned with the depollution of the internal and external environments. It is time to correct our mistakes and become biologists of the mouth in addition to our technical expertise. Physicians and dentists must work together for the good of the whole person. The fragmentation caused by specialization must be rethought. An integrated and unified approach of mind, body and spirit in diagnosis and treatment must be instituted for all. [emphasis added]
Distilled, it comes to this: Biological dentistry focuses on the role of dental factors in the etiology of disease, situating and understanding it ONLY within the dynamic of physical, energetic and psychosomatic factors. It’s about the interrelationships.
That second part is crucial. Yet it often seems to get glossed as the effects of dental factors on the body get overemphasized. Concern becomes fixed on the physical body, not the dynamics nor the extracellular matrix – the biological terrain – that facilitates them.
Without this understanding, the isolated treatment of cavitations or root canals or whatever can have little lasting positive effect. It’s like pulling the plug from a flooding bathtub but failing to turn off the tap. You’ve not solved the basic problem. As Dr. Verigin writes,
If we are to get the maximum optimum results, it’s vital to identify all obstacles present and contributing to the disordered biological terrain. It’s not just the mercury but the whole body that holds it, in both its physical and energetic aspects. And so it’s imperative to defer any clinical dental procedures until the biochemical and bioelectric issues are fully understood. Likewise, the client needs to fully understand why their terrain is disordered and how to balance it – the whys, whats and how-tos before treatment begins.
The terrain serves the conscientious biological dentist as a guide for when and how to address any dental factors that may be compromising health elsewhere in the body. Without that guide, you can do no better than guess.