A New Approach: Holistic Dentistry: More Than Mercury Filling Removal
Nov 02, 2015 08:37PM
By Nicole Miale
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the mouth is a gateway to our body and a critical part that needs to be kept healthy. Evidence has shown a direct link between oral health and incidence of chronic illness; despite this now proven connection, doctors are still taught very little about the mouth and teeth in conventional medical school. In the specialized mainstream medical model, these remain the province of the dentists, most of whom historically only treated teeth and gums rather than concerning themselves with the teeth’s potential relationship to other parts of the body.
“Proper training that goes beyond convention isn’t really available to doctors or dentists right now,” says Mark Breiner, DDS, of Whole Body Dental in Fairfield, author of Whole-Body Dentistry, A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health. “They have to search for and want more information. The good news is that people are seeking new information and asking better questions. Their care will be better because of that.”
Some questions that have arisen in recent years swirled around the safety of mercury-containing amalgam fillings and the need for root canal procedures; the latter is a common procedure in conventional dentistry, but one viewed with caution by holistic dentists because of the potential for creating new problems as toxins may invade the site.
“There is more to holistic dentistry than mercury filling removal,” explains Leonard Kundel, DMD, of Stamford. “It is a different philosophy and way of thinking. My actions have a direct impact on the health of my patients, and not just in their mouth. After I put a crown in someone’s mouth, what is going to happen to the patient next? That is always my biggest concern.”
Kundel and Breiner are each committed to practicing a more evolved kind of dentistry which empowers their patients and acknowledges the interconnectedness of all parts of the body. They are conventionally trained and capable of using all standard tools and procedures, but over time they have developed a different way of looking at the mouth and the messages it may hold.
“The question I am always asking myself is ‘why is this happening?’ What is going on within my patient to create this situation in their mouth?” Breiner says. “If you’re treating the whole person and strengthening their immune system, then it may not actually be necessary to remove a tooth or take other invasive action.”
Kundel agrees and says collaboration with other health care practitioners, including naturopaths and pediatricians, has become a major component of his practice. “People are starting to understand we get much better results when we collaborate. Sometimes I need to refer a patient to a physician to improve their underlying health issues before I can even think about working on their teeth.” Breiner’s practice shares office space with the comprehensive naturopathic clinic run by his son, Adam Breiner, ND; they often refer patients to each other.
Phobia with a Cause
A study in 2008 showed that 75 percent of adults in the U.S. are afraid of going to the dentist and 50 percent avoid going to the dentist because of that fear. Kundel says the number one reason for that fear is a lack of understanding of the process and lack of trust in the practitioner. Newer research is showing another cause; many people with dental phobia actually have an underlying physical condition contributing to their terror: a narrow airway. The airway and proper breathing is hierarchically the most important function for humans to thrive, so any reduction in space can cause the system—and person—to hit the panic button.
“If your airway is narrower than it ought to be—because of some physical condition you’re not even aware of like the angle of your jaw—you’re always struggling to breathe at some level, without knowing it,” Kundel explains. “Then someone puts their hands in your mouth and uses tools, air, water… before you know it, you really can’t breathe because the already narrow airway is suddenly even less. You start to panic. It’s common and wasn’t very well recognized before.”
Understanding this kind of association and honoring patients’ physical and energetic individuality are hallmarks of holistic dentistry.
“To be holistic means not just treating teeth but a whole person,” Breiner says. “And there is a place for everything. You don’t ever discount allopathic medicine; it has its place just as other methods do. Good dentistry is the foundation no matter what.”
Nicole Miale is publisher of Natural Awakenings Fairfield County.
Mark A. Breiner, DDS • Whole Body Dentistry
Fairfield • 203-371-0300 • WholeBodyDentistry.com
Leonard Kundel, DMD
Stamford • 203-487-6020 • StamfordDentist.com