These days, patients are finding that they have more choice when it comes to dental care. They can continue to see their traditional dentist or they can go to someone who has a degree in dentistry—and a whole lot more.
I’m the latter of these: A dentist that has, for decades, studied the connection between the mouth and the other systems of the body, and then developed protocols for addressing how the problems in the mouth affect other areas of the body.
Most dentists focus primarily on the teeth. They pretty much have their hands full with busy practices that are involved in cleanings, filling, crowns, and other functional and cosmetic issues affecting the teeth.
Where biological dentistry differs is that it looks at correcting the root causes of problems, not just the symptoms.
Let me explain what I mean. When a traditional dentist finds evidence that a patient is clenching and grinding their teeth, their solutions for the problem typically involve repairing the damage. With clenching and grinding, for instance, the damage is usually a broken tooth that needs a filling or a root canal and crown. The traditional dentist may even go one step further and offer a custom-made mouth guard to be worn at night to protect the teeth from further damage.
In the same situation, a biological dentist will go further. They want to know the source of the problem—why is the patient clenching and grinding? Often, it’s an automatic reflex by the body to attempt to open the throat and help the patient breathe. When the airway collapses, which happens during sleep, the body goes into survival mode and compensates for the situation by clenching the jaw. Clenching automatically causes the muscles around the throat to dilate to provide better airflow. Grinding may occur as the jaw juts forward to pull the tongue out of the back of the throat. This will be revealed by severe wear on the upper and lower incisors.
The solution then, through a biological dentist, may ultimately include an oral appliance worn at night to pull the jaw forward and open the airway. That can help alleviate the clenching and grinding while also helping the patient breathe during sleep.
A biological dentist also knows that placing toxic substances such as mercury in the mouth can have detrimental effects elsewhere in the body. Mercury is an ingredient in amalgam, which is the silver material used in metal fillings. In a warm, wet environment like the mouth, amalgam can release the mercury into the bloodstream, raising toxicity levels in the body.
Also known as holistic or integrative dentistry, biological dentistry looks at whole-body health. What’s happening in the mouth is not isolated, it’s often just a symptom of something else going on in the body. But this is a dual relationship as what is occurring in the mouth may contribute to other health issues.
That’s why at the Julian Center, we address the four components of health: sleep hygiene, psychoemotional needs, oral-structural imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies. By considering these four components with every patient we see, we do more than treat symptoms, we find and address the root of a problem. That’s how patients see an improvement in their health.