I want to introduce a new topic – Integrated Dentistry and Medicine.
Changes are slowly occurring in the medical world. As a periodontist, I am doing my part to get my colleagues on the same page as I am. Basically, my belief is that every cell in the body affects every other cell in the body. Some dentists are now getting educated and calling themselves “biologically trained dentists”.
Biological Dentistry refers to an approach that integrates the best of conventional dentistry concepts with the knowledge that the entire body is interconnected. Whatever affects one area of the body will affect all other areas of the body.
Biologically trained dentists promote the use of non-toxic materials for dental procedures and emphasize the potential impact of dental procedures and infections on a person’s overall health. Likewise, what is going on within our body often is reflected in the teeth, gum tissues, and jawbone.
The mouth is not an island unto itself. And what we eat, when we sleep, how we exercise, and how we deal with stresses in our life affect every cell in our body. Medicine in the future will be integrated with the concepts of biological dentistry. Both well-trained dentists and medical doctors will create a healthcare team to treat the entire body efficiently and effectively. Already, major medical facilities in the US like the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins Medicine are creating departments of integrative medicine.
One problem with the term “biological dentist” is that it is not a recognized specialty of dentistry. There is no approved postgraduate specialty program that offers a certification in “biological dentistry”. Since any dentist can call himself or herself a biological dentist, this is an area of “buyer beware!” There are many charlatans out there who try to jump on the bandwagon.
To complicate this further, there are organizations that a dentist can join that give the appearance to the public that this person is specially trained. But any dentist can join these organizations and call himself or herself a “biological dentist”. The dentist only needs to pay the fee to be a member and advertise that he or she follows some guidelines. That’s about it. There is no scrutiny by licensing authorities. However, dentists can learn biological dentistry through years of continuing education and researching the medical literature.
For me, well-educated biological dentists are the ideal professionals to treat dental issues. How could anyone not realize that the blood that flows through the jaw is the same blood that flows through the heart and the rest of the body. What goes into the mouth eventually travels the entire digestive tract and will either be absorbed or not absorbed into the body. The bacteria in the mouth and the bacteria in the gut will affect the entire garden of beneficial bacteria throughout the inside and the outside of the body. Infections in the mouth will cause systemic biomarkers to rise, indicating systemic inflammation. The mucosal tissues in the mouth crosstalk with all other mucosal tissues throughout the body and influence the body’s immune response to antigens. Everything is connected!
All medicine should be practiced in a biological way. That means that the entire body should be considered, not just the manifestation of a single disease. Treatment should be proactive and not only reactive. Cure also must include prevention.
Ask your dentists the questions that matter:
- How did you get trained in biological dentistry?
- How do you protect your staff and your patients from toxic elements in the dental office?
- How do you educate your patients about diet, lifestyle, environmental irritants, and overall health?