In this podcast, Dr. Nammy Patel talks about holistic dentistry. She explains how it takes into account your whole body health. Then, she provides tips on how to find a holistic dentist.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling books,”Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile” and “Healthy Living and Total Wellness: Understanding the Link Between Your Teeth and Your Health”. Today, our topic is holistic dentistry, what it is and how it can benefit your overall health. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Thank you for having me, John.
What Is Holistic Dentistry?
John: Sure. So Dr. Nammy, what is holistic dentistry and how does it differ from the more traditional dental practices in terms of its approach to patient care?
Dr. Nammy: One of the key ingredients of holistic dentistry is the whole body health in really looking at their oral systemic connection. So realizing how the mouth is related to the rest of the body, and I’m going to use an interesting example here.
It’s going to be, “Hey, can my TMJ really cause me hip pain?” And the answer is yes. So really realizing that we’re quantum beings, that we’re all interconnected and we’re not A+B=C. We’re really dynamic individuals who are intertwined in so many ways and figuring out the right connection and making sure that everything is working in optimal condition is really what we’re looking at with holistic dentistry, what is the root? How do we get to the root cause of the problems as it pertains to the head and neck, and how is it related to the rest of the body?
So when I say holistic dentistry, I always say whole, as in W-H-O-L-E versus holistic, which is H-O-L-I-S-T-I-C. So I think whole body health, that’s really how I describe myself as a whole body health dentist and holistic dentist using holistic or natural modalities.
The Role of Nutrition and Stress Management in Treatment
John: And what role do factors like nutrition and stress management play in treatment?
Dr. Nammy: It’s super important, nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. You are what you eat is what we hear, and it is very true. Getting leafy green is super important and you need your teeth too true, so there is your mouth connection right there. Also, all the bacteria in your mouth that actually are there actually convert a lot of…
For example, leafy greens actually help you fight cancer, help you fight heart attacks, help you fight all of these things by taking the nitrates that come out and turning into nitric oxide, which is really important because as you chew the food, it goes into your belly, it combines it with the acid, so that’s where it makes it the nitric oxide, and that is what your body needs in order to lower blood pressure, in order to fight cancer, in order for you to live a long, healthy life.
The mouth is really, really, really important in overall health and overall wellness. And also with stress management and nutrition, super important because if you’re eating well, your body is going to be able to be in a rest and digest mode versus in stress mode. When your body is in stress mode, it is going to be super acidic, you’re going to have acid reflux.
If you’re really stressed out, you’re going to be grinding your teeth, breaking your teeth, those are things that we’re going to find. You’re not going to be sleeping well at night, those are some things that we’ll notice as well. So as far as stress management and diet, huge part, and lifestyle is the number one key component of any health. Your mental, emotional, physical wellbeing, they’re all really important and we have to realize they all tie in together.
Benefits of Holistic Dental Care
John: What are some specific dental issues that can be addressed with holistic dentistry and how can patients benefit from that more holistic approach to oral healthcare?
Dr. Nammy: Well, all dental issues can be addressed through holistic dentistry. That’s number one. I feel like the more interesting question really is how can holistic dentistry really help with other systemic issues and how can the mouth help resolve it? So one example would be acid reflux is a perfect, perfect example to start with.
The majority of the patients who are super stressed out and not eating healthy, they’re going to actually end up having a lot of acidity in their mouth. And what we find with those patients is we’ll be the first to notice it because we’ll see erosion or we’ll see certain areas of their teeth getting cavities.
When we find that, we can actually say, “Hey, we’re noticing that you probably have acid reflux.” You’re probably not aware of it because it’s so subtle sometimes that we really don’t know what’s going on. We can actually test the species of bacteria that are in your mouth that’ll show that yes, absolutely you’re having acid reflux. And then we can balance the microbiome in the mouth and also help with probiotics and prebiotics to help your body lower the acidic level so that you can be more comfortable, and also your body can start healing itself because when your body is acidic, it actually leads to diseases and we really want to make sure that your body’s pH is really great.
Improving Oral Health Improves Whole Body Health
John: So it’s really more about how working on the issues that you’re having with your mouth can really help improve your overall health and all of these other issues that you’re having in your body.
Dr. Nammy: That’s one. The other mostly what I see with patients actually is the other way around. They’ve been addressing certain things and they’re like, I just don’t understand why I have… For women, I see a lot of PCOS or meningiomas or some sort of eczema or an inflammatory condition like IBS or Crohn’s disease, a gluten allergy. People have a lot of these conditions in the body and they didn’t realize that the mouth is one of the contributing factors for those.
And so, when we look at whole body health or holistic health, patients usually have, or they’re seeking a holistic dentist out, that’s what we’re testing and we’re really looking out for is that traditional medicine is forgetting that the mouth is related to the rest of the body. And did you know that if you have a lot of IBS, this actually has to do with the cranial bones not being in the right place, or children who had braces and a headgear when the teeth were moved too fast and their cranial bones weren’t allowed to move properly.
If that occurs, it actually puts stress in the brain and there’s a nerve that fires too much. And so we can actually alleviate all of that with dental appliances and to create more balance in the body that will relieve the IBS, that will relieve a lot of the allergies and things of that nature.
How to Find the Right Holistic Dentist
John: And how can patients ensure that they receive safe and effective holistic dental treatments? Are there certain qualifications that they should look for in a holistic dentist?
Dr. Nammy: The first thing I always say is, I mean, you’ll see certain things about holistic dentists, which is they will have training they have gone through and they’ll be the experts in the field. One of the things that I’m really disappointed to see is a lot of, we call them dental service organizations, which is really a multiple locations of one practice, and they call themselves holistic, but they really don’t dig into all the things that a boutique or a private practitioner is really doing.
If you see a big practice that has 10, 15, or even just five or six locations, that practice is probably just doing their bare minimal basics of holistic dentistry, which is probably maybe testing your pH of your mouth, and pretty much that’s it.
What you really want to look at is you want to find the expert in the industry, how long have they been doing holistic dentistry, and what specific do they mean when they say holistic dentistry. And you want to look for a boutique practice where it’s maybe one or two providers. And also people who have been around the block, have tested a lot of different things, have really evaluated what does whole body health mean.
Because it’s easy to say, “I’m a holistic dentist because I don’t use fluoride,” and that’s not the defining factor for a holistic dentist. The defining factor for a holistic dentist is that we’re looking at the oral systemic connections and using natural modalities, really.
Contact Us to Talk About Holistic Dental Care
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information and good advice, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: Absolutely.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.