Why Biologic Dentistry?: It’s Not Just About Teeth
Jun 06, 2019 12:14AM
By Michelle Bense
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, holistic dentists typically subscribe to the same basic principles of oral health care as conventional dentists, though each may have other specialties or methods. Generally, the holistic dentist will: focus on how whole-body health is linked to the health of our gums and teeth, use safer materials for fillings (no mercury/metals), avoid root canals as a treatment and use the least invasive means of total wellness.
Dr. Leonard Kundel, DMD, a holistic dentist with a private practice in Stamford, believes strongly that “your mouth is connected to your body and so it should be treated as such”. He is about educating the patient, first and foremost. “As a holistic dentist, I just want my patients to be well. If you come to me, I tell you that whatever comes out of my mouth always has your best interest in mind.”
All About the Airway
Humans have basic needs for survival: sleep and breathing. “If those two basic needs are not met well, the body and mind cannot be healthy,” Kundel says. “When people with all sorts of illnesses come to me, I listen to them. Once they tell me their story, I ask them, ‘How well do you sleep?’ All of them say, ‘terribly’. What I find is that practically all people who come to me that suffer from various illnesses have not enjoyed restorative quality sleep for a very long time.”
Most patients report struggling with sleep, and much of that could be due to airway obstructions—in adults and children. According to Stanford Children’s Health, in children the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea—ceasing breathing during periods of sleep—is enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
While he always seeks the most gentle, least invasive option first, sometimes surgical intervention—in many cases removing the tonsils—is necessary to achieve the most optimal outcome. Kundel suggests to his patients that they should try the gentle solution first. “I tell them to try it for six months. If it’s not working after six months, it’s not going to, and we have to be realistic about options and do something else. You have to act into health,” he says. Patients should weigh the options and get the advice of a trusted, experienced professional who has their best interests at heart.
The focus at Kundel’s practice is working together with other health practitioners to help the patients. This includes pulmonologists, sleep specialists, ENTs, pediatricians, osteopaths, lactation consultants, myofunctional specialists, NDs and other practitioners—a true whole-body approach.
Kundel says he looks at things in shades of gray. Where other dentists may be firm in a belief that the greatest enemy to oral health is mercury or a root canal, he looks for other clues as well. “As a holistic dentist who started almost 20 years ago, it was always about mercury. What I find now is that paying attention to the airway of the patient is far more important than what type of filling they have.”
The Root of It
A hallmark of holistic dentistry has been the belief that root canals are not the answer. Weil explains that “common dental procedures such as gum cleanings and root canals can force bacteria into the bloodstream.” This can lead to bigger problems down the road that have consequences reaching far beyond the mouth.
Many holistic dentists advise patients who have had root canals to have them removed for good measure. However, Kundel says, it is important to remember that these warnings are not all-encompassing. Some patients are going to dentists after reading and watching documentaries like the recent Root Cause, requesting the removal of their root canals. “People with all different health issues are getting teeth pulled. They come to me from great distances, saying they’ve had all these issues and they’ve had a couple of root canals, so they want them removed,” says Kundel.
“What do you think I ask?” quizzes Kundel. “I ask them, ‘How well are you sleeping?’ They always say they’ve been terrible sleepers their whole life. They learn about the problems of root canals so they assume that’s their main issue, but it may not be—they may have other underlying issues.”
The best doctor is one who is looking at every aspect of the mouth and head, asking the right questions and educating the patient on all available and recommended options. “It is profound that we’ve not really talked about teeth,” he laughs. “But the jaw and airway have a much bigger impact on health than teeth. We need to make sure teeth are healthy, educate patients to take care of them and avoid infections, but there is much more to the mouth than just teeth.”
Connect with Dr. Leonard Kundel at 203-487-6020 or StamfordDentist.com. His office is located at 1867 Summer St, Stamford.
Michelle Bense is a freelance writer and editor currently living and exploring in New Mexico. Connect at [email protected].