Holistic orthodontics looks closely at every angle of the patient’s jaw and teeth alignment. Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry, discusses the benefits of holistic orthodontics. Listen or read more to find out about holistic orthodontics.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and 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. Today our topic is holistic orthodontics. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Thank you for having me, John.

John: Sure. So, Dr. Nammy, what is holistic orthodontics and how does a holistic orthodontist differ from a traditional orthodontist?

Dr. Nammy:  Well, the most important thing about a holistic orthodontist is we look at the jaw joint and we make sure that we’re just not looking at just straightening the teeth. We’re looking at a more of a holistic approach, so really making sure that your bite’s in the right place, your jaw joints are in the right place, also your TMJ is in the right place. And then the last is also making sure you’re breathing and making sure that you have good oral airway to make sure that you can breathe properly.

How TMJ Plays into Orthodontics

John: What is a TMJ? You mentioned that.

Dr. Nammy:  It’s the temporomandibular joint. So, what it is is a disk, kind of like our knee. It has two parts, there’s a jaw that’s attached to the skull and then in between is a disk or a joint. And in that joint is a disk that actually moves, that allows you to open your mouth and speak like we’re doing right now.

And in order for teeth to be in the proper position, we have to not only make sure that our teeth look straight, that our teeth come together, but also that there’s not a lot of stress on that jaw joint. And that is the number one concern for patients who go through traditional orthodontics is that they will go through care and end up with TMJ problems because the teeth are moved too quickly, also the teeth are moved in a way that compresses the disk and puts a lot of forces on the disk, causing the jaw joint muscles to be very tense. And, also, a lot of times patients hear the click and the pop.

John: Right. From their jaw as they’re moving it, right?

Dr. Nammy:  Yes, absolutely.

Traditional Orthodontics

John: Okay, so what are some examples of some traditional orthodontic devices that traditional orthodontists use that maybe cause some of these issues or maybe even caused some of these issues to present themselves later in life?

Dr. Nammy:  Well, the most important is traditional braces, using braces and brackets. There’s headgears, there’s all sorts of things, which is fine, okay to use, the problem just boils down to the diagnosis and how the patients are looked at because it’s not just about the teeth, we have to look at the entire head, neck, and the body to ensure that we’re using the right product or the right device to fix the right problem. Because we can use a headgear or brackets or a DNA appliance to put the teeth in the right place, but if the jaw joint’s not in the right place, then we’ve kind of missed the mark. So, the goal is to make sure that you have both in alignment. And you can use similar devices and the outcome will be very different as long as we look at the jaw joint and we make sure that we’re using the right device at the right time to take care of things.

Holistic Orthodontics

John: So, what are some of the devices that a holistic orthodontist would use?

Dr. Nammy:  So, my favorite device is really, actually Invisalign. The way that we actually use Invisalign is very different and I also use a lot of orthotic appliances, what they do is they put the jaw joint in the right place. With Invisalign, what I really like or I use the combination of those orthotic appliances and Invisalign because I like Invisalign because it’s BPA-free, bisphenol-free, so there’s no cancer-causing agents. A lot of things out there, like the canned ads or these Facebook ads that we see, are straightening devices that are cheaper, but they have toxic chemicals in it.

And the way that I actually work with moving the teeth is actually very different, instead of using the aligners and move the teeth every two weeks, my protocol is usually to go every four to six weeks and somewhere in between. Because when we moved the teeth very slowly, it actually allows that disk to go back into its proper place, alleviating that TMJ pressure. Usually I’ve done over 800 cases at this point and just this year alone I have about 200 patients in orthodontics and I would say about 80% of them feel a difference in their jaw joint and their disk by 120 days.

John: And how is it that these devices are making that kind of difference in people’s jaw joints? How does it affect the jaw joint itself?

Dr. Nammy:  What it does is there is a curve that is utilized when we open our jaw and when our teeth rest. So, the goal is when our teeth are resting, we’re creating space in between the teeth and we call this vertical dimension. So, we are opening the space up in between the teeth so when the teeth are at rest, they’re not touching. When they’re not touching, there’s not that compressive pressure or forces, which is the reason people feel tension.

John: All right. Any final thoughts on holistic orthodontics and how it can help people?

Dr. Nammy:  My thing to say or my advice for somebody thinking about orthodontics is really to make sure you find the right person to work with. Number two, understand the process of what it’s going to entail. It does take time, but it will yield results that will last you a lifetime.

John: All right. That’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy:  Thanks, John.

John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-578-9347.