Reasons to See a Biological Dentist

Woman smiling with healthy teeth

There are a few key reasons to see a biological dentist. But first, here is a simple but an important truth:

“You can’t get healthy if your mouth isn’t healthy.”

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I also say the mouth is the door to just about everything else: our health and longevity. It is through the mouth we inhale and ingest particles and food that either contribute to our health or adversely affect it. The structure and alignment of the mouth (jaw and teeth) have an impact on our ability to breathe as well. 

Lately there has been a slow growing awareness of the importance of your oral health, yet still, most attention has been focused on the gut, at least in the headlines. My own personal experience last year, opened my eyes further to the benefits of integrative, biological dentistry which saved me from losing a tooth and suffering from miserable health complications.

If you capped or replaced teeth and did nothing else to get that perfect, white smile, the truth still lies in your underlying oral health and that will prevail until addressed appropriately. When my long-time dentist decided to retire and sell his practice to a corporate group, that was enough for me to finally make the break for a biological dentist who speaks my language (lifestyle and functional medicine) and who takes a deep investigative approach to evaluations.

Bamboo brushes with eucalytpus

Let me first share a few fun facts about the oral cavity:

  1. Our Oral Microbiome is the second largest microbiota in the body; being the home to over 700 species of bacteria and harbors fungi, protozoa and viruses. (2) The microbiota in our mouths exist in form of biofilms located on the hard surfaces of our teeth and on the soft tissues of the oral mucosa. They exist to maintain balance (equilibrium), protect the oral cavity from invading pathogens and prevent diseases. Disruption of this balance, often caused by poor dietary choices and habits such as smoking, allow pathogens to manifest and cause diseases.
  2. Our Saliva plays a key role in the health of our mouth and our intestinal function. A healthy pH (6-7) and amount of salivary excretion in the mouth protects the teeth from buildup of bacteria by stopping the bacteria from adhering to the surfaces inside your mouth. Saliva starts the digestive process and delivers the nutrients used to re-mineralize the teeth, preventing acids from breaking down the enamel.
  3. The Bacteria that cause gum disease can make their way into your brain. The leaky gum situation where bad bacteria leaks through the gums into your bloodstream gives rise to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, brain degeneration and endocrine disorders.
  4. Good dental hygiene and proper chewing and breathing habits directly impact not just your oral health but your overall health.
  5. The health of your oral cavity can play a role in the level of your brain function. The proteins in the key pathogen associated with periodontitis was found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in a recent study. (4)
  6. Mechanical pressure. Your teeth can only withstand so much mechanical pressure over time. A cracked tooth increases the likelihood of bacterial infestation and potential systemic infections. Chronic teeth grinding, clenching, head and face trauma, TMJ dysfunction/disorder are a few issues that should be addressed professionally.

I Had Unexplained Mysterious Symptoms.

For the previous 6 months I was experiencing symptoms I have never had before and initially thought it was the wrath of aging and a recent stressful event- moving. The last time I had ongoing headaches was over 10 years ago, but these ones were different. I had tension, one sided, sometimes bilateral (headband distribution) and facial headaches. A new sinus pain would come and go, and they always hit me in the right maxillary sinus (the area on the side of your nose, above your upper teeth). Then odd breakouts every few weeks to months around my lips which were temporarily resolved with natural remedies. However, they kept returning. My ears were constantly full and congested. Then my joints felt like they were on fire (ankles, toes, and elbows and sometimes fingers, mostly at night). I couldn’t step down from any height, especially getting out of a truck or SUV without foot pain. Amazingly I could adjust patients during the day, but I paid a price the following morning.

I was functioning, but I fatigued easily, and my strength was declining. I ordered extensive blood labs and a urinalysis, and with the exception of some inflammatory markers, nothing was alarming, even by functional standards. I finally reviewed my journal of symptoms going back six months and realized I needed to dig deeper. A friend who is a functional neurologist agreed I need a good dentist, meaning a biological (natural) dentist.

February 2021: Take a look at the dark grey bubbles at the base of the upper tooth (#3), pushing into my maxillary sinus (the large black region above it). This was causing the facial pain.

My Biological Dentist Found the Problem.

I never had such a long, thorough new patient evaluation in a dental practice before. But I was not surprised since biological dentistry follows similar practice philosophies as functional medicine. In fact, this dentist is also a Doctor of Integrated Medicine. 

Dr. Mahn walked into the exam room after reviewing the cone beam CT scans and broke the news to me: “I have an abscessed tooth.” My tooth #3 was pretty much dead. I was shocked since I had a clean bill of dental health and except for the last 12 months, I had stayed up to date with maintenance cleanings. Over seven years ago, I started to have episodic pain in that exact area (above the tooth) usually one week after landing from a flight overseas. A dentist in Australia took x-rays and identified the problem as sinus inflammation triggered by altitude pressure from flight travel. Only acupuncture gave me relief… until the next overseas trip. So, I kept assuming this was a recurring sinus problem.

After careful evaluation of the studies, I returned for the second visit to discuss detailed results and a plan of action. In trying to rationalize how this one tooth died, we agreed it was highly likely due to multiple dental procedures which included repeat fillings over the years, including the removal of mercury amalgams. My previous conventional dentist did not catch it. As I mentioned in #6 above, a tooth will eventually cave under pressure.

I ended up under the care of an endodontist who also saved the tooth by using a new technique called “Gentle Wave” – a generation of sound waves coupled with irrigation after the root canal procedure. This was my first (and hopefully my last) root canal, so I did not know what to expect but that whole experience is worth explaining in a separate blogpost.

With the help of an anti-inflammatory nutritional protocol before and after the root canal, all the symptoms disappeared. I will share this in a future post.

Orange dental chair

Choosing to Work with a Biological Dentist…

helped me get back to my normal, active, vibrant self, again.

I could have lost that molar if I didn’t switch to this dentist when I did. Even worse, the inflammation in my body could have progressed to a cytokine storm which would’ve significantly affected my life.

It is almost hard to believe that the condition of our oral cavity can significantly impact our quality of life and longevity. I’m glad to the growing awareness today. But, sadly the awakening for some people happens after a health crisis is traced back to the mouth.

According to Dr. Ingo Mahn, “The nerve inside a tooth can completely die without any symptoms at all, until it becomes infected and swollen.” (5) Ironically, tooth pain started while I was waiting for my scheduled dental surgery. 

A biological dentist takes the time to deep dive into your history and utilizes advanced imaging technology. Early detection in any health system is paramount. I cannot stress enough how regular oral and dental exams and cleanings are important for your overall health, even if you do not have tooth pain. 

It is so important to realize that there are several symptoms and illnesses which many don’t realize are linked to dental caries: ear fullness, facial pain, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, fatigue, infections, chronic pain. The list goes on. 

If your dentist is not taking the time to look beyond the teeth and explain the importance of the mouth-body relationship, if you find you are having to repeat the same dental procedures, or if you have unexplained symptoms that will not go away, it’s time to dive deep and try biological dentistry.

 

Dr. Melanie

Definitions:

Oral microbiome: collective genome of microorganisms that reside in the oral cavity. First identified by the Dutchman Antony van Leeuwenhoek who first identified oral microbiome using a microscope constructed by him. (1)

Resources:

In the Phoenix area:

Dr. Ingo Mahn, DDS, Doctor of Integrative Medicine: Natural Dental Partners

Dr. Michael Thompson, DDS, Endodontist using Gentle Wave Technology: Litchfield Endodontics

To find a biological dentist in your area, visit the Holistic Dental Association 

This article was not sponsored. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6503789/
  2.  Defining the oral microbiome: https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12866-020-01801-y
  3. Exploring Human Bacterial Diversity Toward Prevention of Infectious Disease and Health Promotion: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/oral-microbiome
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357742/
  5. “A Healthy Mouth. The missing Link to Optimal Health” by Info Mahn, DDS, AIAOMT (patient guidebook)

Image Credits in order of appearance:
Lesley Juarez, Unsplash
The Humble Co- Unsplash
Natural Dental Partners, Phoenix, AZ
Atikah Akhtar- Unsplash

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