If Ever There Were a Case for Minimally-Invasive Dentistry…

dental explorerA young woman needed a dental exam before starting a new job. She chose a dentist online. She went to her exam.

She complained of no dental problems. None of her 32 teeth had ever been restored. Her x-rays showed no signs of decay. The bone supporting her teeth looked healthy.

On clinical examination, visual findings were of a mouth with good oral hygiene and no staining on the teeth. [But] when the dentist did his clinical check for caries, he found that the explorer “stuck” on all 20 of the posterior teeth occlusal [biting] surfaces and also some buccal [cheekside] pits.

Some would take a “wait-and-see” approach here, perhaps counseling on diet and other factors that could hasten or stop the development of decay. Some might treat with ozone or turn to micro air abrasion just to be safe. You probably wouldn’t start drilling away at the teeth.

Or would you?

Several months later, she visited her parents while on vacation, and they noticed the many silver fillings in her mouth; she explained to them what happened. The patient’s father was very upset, so he took her to see her childhood dentist, who had seen her last about two years earlier.

This dentist examined the patient and, with her permission, asked the treating dentist to immediately forward to him his dental chart and digital radiographs for the patient. When they arrived by email, he made note that not a single one of the filled teeth had even a hint of pretreatment radiographic decay, and he did not see any clinical sign that there were likely any decayed teeth to have been diagnosed as carious by an explorer.

And now she has a mouth full of one of the most toxic substances on earth.

That makes for a doubly horrible horror story.

We believe that the best dentistry is the least dentistry. We feel that restorations should only be done after other, less invasive treatments have failed or the decay or damage to the tooth is so great as less invasive procedures are no longer an option. And we believe that patients deserve to know all their options up front and should play an active role in the decision-making process – not be told like a child to do this or that, regardless of their desires, beliefs, or values.

As for the young woman, she sued on the grounds of negligence and “egregious, malicious, and outrageous acts.” Amazingly, the jury found for the defendant, whose experts had testified that he was only doing what he’d been taught in dental school.

Yet it was a different story with the state dental board. They fined and suspended the dentist.


Image via Wikimedia Commons

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KTH Flashback: The Importance of Breastfeeding on Dental-Facial Development & Health

Originally posted August 23, 2013

breastfeeding childThe benefits of breastfeeding go far beyond just the infant’s receiving food when hungry.

For instance, consider the JAMA Pediatrics study which showed that children who are exclusively breastfed at 6 to 7 months may have a lower risk of overweight/ obesity.

With adjustment for children’s factors (sex, television viewing time, and computer game playing time) and maternal factors (educational attainment, smoking status, and working status),…”we demonstrated that breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk of overweight and obesity among school children in Japan, and the protective association is stronger for obesity than overweight,” the study concludes.

But it’s about far more than just obesity. There’s also evidence that children who are bottle-fed are three times more likely to die in infancy. According to Dr Chandra Pati Mishra, head of the department of community medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University (BHU),

Bottle-feeding is prone to several infections and is a severe malpractice for children, especially those younger than 6 months. “In fact, putting the child on breastfeeding for maximum time can increase her IQ level by six times more than one kept on alternative feeding habits,” he said.

It should be no surprise that infant humans thrive on the first food we evolved to consume. As noted expert Dr. Brian Palmer has written,

The nutritional, immunological, psychological, and general health advantages conveyed to infants have been documented for years. Legovic listed the merits of human breast milk as compared to artificial feeds to include ideal nutritional content, better absorption, fewer food-related allergies, more favorable psychological development, better immunologic defenses, and a substantial economic advantage. [References available at the link]

There’s another benefit, however, that’s often overlooked: good and healthy orofacial development. Here, we let myofunctional therapist and dental hygienist Carol Vander Stoep tell the tale via an excerpt from her book Mouth Matters:

In fact, breastfed babies have a far better chance at beauty and health because these infants learn to work their lips, cheeks, and tongue differently. Facial development occurs early, when facial bones are plastic. Genes, skeletal influences, and airway development determine facial shape.

It takes 1.4 grams of pressure to move teeth or change bone structure. The tongue exerts up to 500 grams of pressure, the cheeks up to 300 grams. For maximum attractiveness and a lifetime of healthy function, these forces must balance each other. Proper swallowing patterns learned by breastfeeding balance these forces so teeth erupt evenly around the tongue to form a beautiful and functional arch. A wide arch promotes a wide, open airway.

The coordination required for an infant to swallow and breathe at the same time while breastfeeding is also a critical step in learning correct swallow patterns. In a proper swallow, the lips touch together lightly. The lower jaw moves slightly upward to touch the upper teeth. The tongue lightly moves up and reinforces the good arch form. There is minimal TM/jaw joint compression. Good breathing and swallowing habits maintain the balance of forces.

Babies who breastfeed and develop proper swallowing patterns and facial structure generally have more prominent cheekbones, less constricted sinuses, and a larger eye orbit that allows the eyeball to develop a proper shape. This improves chances of good eyesight. They also develop far fewer ear infections. Children with deep dental overbites are 2.8 times more likely to have ear tubes placed.

On the other hand, the tongue of a bottle-feeding baby creates a strong vacuum against the roof of the mouth and at the back of the throat. This can form a very high palatal vault, reduce the width of the arch, and constrict the sinuses and airway.

Thus, you also tend to see far fewer significant orthodontal issues among children who were breastfed – less crowding of the teeth, less misalignment of the bite and related problems. When you consider the cost of orthodontic treatment today – in dollars, time, and stress alike – it’s clear that this is no small benefit. Add to that reduced medical costs for allergies, infections, sleep apnea and other problems that can arise, and you see quite a savings indeed!

The final word goes to Dr. Palmer:

Preventing disease, in a natural way, far outweighs the alternative: treating the disease with our newest medical technologies, which can be costly and time consuming. Breastfeeding has been shown to be immunologically, emotionally and nutritionally advantageous….

And dentally, as well.

Image by Ozgur POYRAZOGLU, via Flickr

Modified from the original

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Dental Problems Aren’t Always Confined to the Mouth

toothache sculptureWhen you’ve got a dental problem, it’s effects aren’t always confined to the tooth or even the mouth. Each of your teeth is connected with the rest of your body, energetically (via the meridan system) and physically (via your circulation). This is why root canal teeth, for instance, can become a major burden on overall health.

And it’s why, if you’ve got a tooth that’s hurting, you don’t want to put off seeing your dentist about the problem.

Maybe you saw the sad story that made our local news recently.

An Antelope family is grieving the loss of a young father who they say died early Monday morning after a tooth infection spread to his lungs.

Vadim Kondratyuk Anatoliyevich, 26, was a father of two little girls and a long haul truck driver.

His wife, Nataliya told FOX40 his tooth hurt when he left Truckee for New York two weeks ago. She said he visited a dentist in Oklahoma, who cleaned his infected tooth and prescribed him antibiotics, but that the infection got so much worse that the side of his face became swollen.

She said Vadim’s brother eventually made the cross country drive out to bring him back home, because he was feeling too weak to drive. Somewhere along the drive they checked Vadim into a Utah hospital. Four days into his stay there, Nataliya said she had a conversation with the doctors that she had no idea was coming.

“The doctor said tonight is the night he’s gonna die, because we did everything we can and nothing seems to work. It’s just the bacteria and the infection keeps growing to his lungs and they can’t clean it out,” Nataliya said.

It’s important to remember, though, that even in a catastrophic case like this, it’s never just the tooth that’s the problem. There is also a problem in the biological terrain interfering with the body’s self-healing and regulating abilities.

When the terrain is unhealthy, the rest of the body, including the mouth, cannot be truly healthy. Help the terrain, though, and you set the stage for healing and sustained health. This is why evaluating the terrain is the first thing we recommend when new patients come to our office for help with dental burdens they suspect may be impacting their overall health – mercury amalgam fillings, root canals, cavitations.

Once the terrain is dealt with, we can deal with the dental factors much more successfully. Without that, dental intervention may bring some temporary relief – or not.

The terrain, as they say, is everything.

Image by Richard Croft, via Wikimedia Commons

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No, This GIF of a Root Canal Probably Won’t Terrify You, But…

It’s a truly clickbaity headline:



And as with so much clickbait, the promised image doesn’t fail to disappoint a little:

Root canal procedure


Seriously? That’s it? We were expecting at least something more along the lines of…

(Warning: if you’re squeamish, you may want to just skip the clip below. It’s as graphic as the its thumbnail may suggest.)



But what’s scariest of all? The potential effects root canal teeth can have on whole body health.









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“We’re Sitting on a Time Bomb”

dental implantThere are plenty of reasons to be concerned about dental implants, not the least of which is that implants are often placed in diseased tissue. After all, most extractions happen due to severe gum disease or deep decay. That doesn’t just go away with a tooth once it’s taken out. One result is what’s come to be called “peri-implantitis” – gum disease-like inflammation and bone loss around a failing implant.

Studies have suggested that one third of patients will be infected. “We’re sitting on a time bomb,” says Dr Stephen Jacobs, a past president of the Association of Dental Implantology and well-respected implant surgeon. “We are going to be seeing more and more cases.”

And currently, there’s no standard of treatment, although mechanical cleaning of the sites affected is often a first step. But this can bring its own problems, according to research just published in Scientific Reports, particularly with titanium implants, which make up the vast majority of protheses placed today.

“In our study, [ultrasonic] scaling of Ti surfaces induced the release of particles that stimulated the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines,” the authors wrote. “An increase in the expression of IL1β, IL6, and TNFα, among other cytokines, was accompanied by an increase in osteoclast formation and activity, which was either directly or indirectly induced via a paracrine effect on neighboring cells (e.g., osteoblasts). These cytokines have been repeatedly shown to trigger and/or amplify inflammation-induced bone loss.”

In other words, scaling released metal. Those particles “exponentially increased” inflammation, triggering bone loss – loss that “is unlikely to be reversible,” note the authors.

A bad situation gets worse.

And that’s only looking at the short-term consequences. What are the long-term effects of having that metal released into the body? We know from earlier reports that toxicity is a real concern.

But as we noted before, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a rush to remove them.

Instead, have an integrative dentist or physician trained in German biological medicine evaluate your situation. Biological terrain analysis (BTA), EAV and other assessment tools can give insight to burden the implants may be placing on the body. If they are having a negative effect, we can work with you to develop a safe, sensible and secure route to healing.

Learn more

Image by Dan Klimke, via Flickr

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The Future of Self-Repairing Teeth?

tooth decayAnother year, another spate of stories about saying goodbye to the dental drill and hello to “self-repairing” teeth. Unlike most, though, this latest possibility – still in the expermental stages – actually sounds very practical and very promising.

Research just published in Scientific Reports shows that an Alzheimer’s drug called Tideglusib stimulated dentin growth in mice – enough to fully heal sites that were experimentally damaged for the study. (Normally, the layer of protective dentin that an injured tooth lays down isn’t thick enough to block infection.)

How did they do it?

Using biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the treatment, the team applied low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitors to the tooth. They found that the sponge degraded over time and that new dentine replaced it, leading to complete, natural repair. Collagen sponges are commercially-available and clinically-approved, again adding to the potential of the treatment’s swift pick-up and use in dental clinics.

Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe from King’s College London said: “The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.

“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

Yes, it’s a drug, but it’s one that appears to stimulate the natural healing response of the mother cell of the extracellular matrix, the fibroblast. And that – stimulating the natural healing response – is the basic goal of treatment in biological dental medicine.

At this point, it seems the benefits would far outweigh the costs, should this treatment become widely available. But will it? Time will tell…

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BPA-Free Teethers Might Not Be So BPA-Free

baby with teething ringIf you have a teething child, this isn’t exactly the news you’d like to start the year with:

A study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology reports that all tested plastic teethers contained BPA and other endocrine–disruptors that leached at low levels.

Such compounds interfere with hormones and can cause developmental, reproductive, and neurological harm. That’s why BPA has been banned from baby bottles and sippy cups.

But it’s still in countless other products made for children or that children encounter everyday. And apparently, that even includes teething rings labeled as BPA-free.

The researchers analyzed 59 solid, gel–filled or water–filled teethers purchased online in the U.S. for 26 potential endocrine–disrupting chemicals. Although most of the products were labeled BPA–free or non–toxic, all of them contained BPA. In addition, the researchers detected a range of different parabens and the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban in most of the teethers. The study also showed that the compounds leached out of the products’ surfaces into water.

While the researchers calculated an average release of endocrine-disruptors [EDCs] lower than European standards for exposure, they also noted that “these thresholds are set for individual compounds. Current regulations do not account for the accumulation of multiple EDCs.”

So what’s the solution? Ditch the plastic.

There are good alternatives available, from rubber or food-grade silicone toys (which can be cooled in the refrigerator first to provide extra relief) to bamboo teethers or wood teething rings. Even a frozen washcloth or plain old wooden spoon can do wonders for easing the discomfort of teething. High quality homeopathics such as BioEnergetics’ Body Mend and Inflammation can also be helpful.

Plastic teething rings? Maybe not so much.

Image by cantaloupe99, via Flickr

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