Turning Back the Clock: Holistic Dentistry Focuses on Anti-Aging, Disease Prevention
Nov 03, 2012 03:49PM
By By Dr. David Lerner
As we get older, our bodies change—and that seems pretty natural. For many of us, however, the changes that occur are not signs of aging, but of the onset of disease.
The onset can be so gradual that it tends to sneak up on us. Maybe we’ve put on a little weight, or we seem to tolerate stress less easily. Our blood pressure may be a bit higher, or we may feel more physical fatigue and tension.
As our society deals with the challenges of an aging population, including many in declining health, it’s worth reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned from healing traditions around the world, which tend to share common principles. For example, there is a clear health benefit to living with an awareness of and attunement to the natural world. It is health-promoting to eat a diet of whole foods grown without pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants, and it is essential that our bodies stay free of toxins and pollutants and that we maintain a healthy digestive and elimination system. It is beneficial for us to have good posture and get regular exercise and enough rest, and we know that healthy self-esteem promotes similarly healthy choices of habit and lifestyle. These basic principles form the foundation of all holistic health practices.
In dentistry, these principles have become relevant as we have learned more about the influences of oral health on systemic health, and vice versa. An anti-aging holistic approach to dental care integrates knowledge of natural healing with that of contemporary dental science and technology. Below I’ve outlined a few areas of concern in holistic dentistry.
A mouth full of old mercury fillings can contribute to heavy metal toxicity, causing all kinds of physical problems, including fatigue.
Research has shown that mercury from silver fillings can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury toxicity also has been implicated in other neurologic and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. It is amazing to me that 50 percent of dentists still believe it is OK to put mercury fillings in people’s mouths.
The use of various metals in the mouth also can result in the development abnormal electrical fields, which can have troubling health implications. Fortunately, with advances in technology, most dentistry can be performed virtually metal-free.
Years of treating your mouth one tooth at time can lead to a situation where the teeth barely look and fit like they did when you were younger.
This can result in worn teeth or crowns that are flat and misshapen. It can also cause an uneven bite, which can lead to all kinds of stress throughout the body, including head, neck and back pain as well as other ailments.
My office recently treated a woman who was suffering from anxiety due to an irregular heartbeat. It had become a major disruption for her, and she’d traveled across the country seeking a solution. When she found her way to us, we discovered that an imbalance in her bite was disrupting muscles in her neck and chest, leading to an abnormal heart rhythm.
We also recently treated a gentleman experiencing nausea and high blood pressure, symptoms that started after he had some bridgework done on his upper front teeth. It turned out that the new bridge compounded an underlying problem with his bite, interfering with the natural movement of his skull bones, affecting his jaw muscles, and ultimately changing the mechanisms responsible for maintaining equilibrium and regulating blood pressure. His symptoms resolved when we corrected the bite problems.
Research into the relationship between periodontal disease and systemic illness provides a deeper understanding of the nature of disease in general, as well as the associations between systemic and oral health.
Bleeding gums and the film on your teeth caused by dental plaque can affect your heart and major blood vessels, increase your risk of stroke, and influence diabetes, and they also have been associated with pancreatic and prostate cancer, among other health conditions.
Inflammation is a common denominator between gum disease and systemic disorders. There are various factors that can cause inflammation in your body overall—including your gums. This systemic inflammation can stem from nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, faulty digestion, and stresses on the immune system from eating foods you are sensitive to.
These are just a few examples of how an integrative approach in dentistry can be part of a proactive life plan to slow the aging process and help turn back the clock on degenerative disease. Based on principles of natural healing, our methods help identify any hidden or unidentified sources of dental stress that may contribute to the aging process or the development of disease in the body.
Dr. David Lerner practices at the Center for Holistic Dentistry, located at One Taconic Corporate Park, 2649 Strang Blvd., Ste. 201, Yorktown, NY. For more information, visit HolisticDentist.com or call 914.214.9678.