You should always ask your dentist questions, but there are very specific questions you should ask if you want holistic care. In this video, Dr. Nammy outlines the questions you should ask when you're looking for a new functional or biological dentist.
John Maher: Hi, I am 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, and author of the bestselling 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 questions To ask your biological, holistic, or functional dentist. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.
How Do You Approach Dentistry?
John: Sure. So Dr. Nammy, if you’re talking to a new dentist, maybe you’re looking for a biological, or holistic, or functional dentist and you’re going to talk to them for the first time, what are some of the questions that you might ask them in order to ascertain if they might be the right dentist for you?
Dr. Nammy: That is a really good idea to be able to interview or figure out if you’re in the right place or in the right hands, John. So if you’re going to a biological, holistic, functional dentist, the first thing I would do, the number one thing you want to ask them is tell me a little bit about how do you approach the body? Or, what is your approach to dentistry?
A biological dentist is going to say, “My approach to dentistry is biological, so really making sure how do I stimulate your own natural body to do what it does, and how can I maximize on that?” A holistic dentist is going to say, “I’m going to look at the way your mouth is related to the rest of the body.” A functional dentist is going to say, “I’m going to test how your body is doing and help you figure out a game plan to help prevent diseases.”
And every single biological, holistic, functional dentist, they’re all going to have the common ground, as far as what can we do to help you live a longer, healthier, richer life, and how can we help you prevent diseases? That is the foundation of a biological, holistic, or a functional dentist, and that is the number one question you should be asking is what is your approach?
The term, root cause, is really overused, so really asking a little bit deeper and say, “What do you mean by the root cause of diseases? Can you explain to me what the root cause of disease is, or how do you figure that out?” For example, in my practice, if somebody came in with bleeding gums, I would approach it like a medical doctor, which would be a differential. There could be numbers of reasons why you could have bleeding gums.
Number one, it could be because you’re not flossing. Number two, it could be because you’ll have a vitamin C deficiency. Number three, you could be pregnant. Number four, it could be periodontal disease that’s full blown and active, and needs really aggressive treatment.
In order to figure out which one it is, I would go a step deeper and I would look at, “Well, what is going on? When was the last time you went to the dentist? Are you getting your periods regularly? Are you seeing your medical doctor and making sure the lab tests are done regularly?” If so, “What do they look like? Let’s take a look at them. Let’s also do some testing in the practice and see what kind of bad bacteria are in there, or is it that you just have a genetic predisposition to inflammation?”
Because we are finding that gum disease is hereditary. We are finding that if you have the allele or the genetic disposition to more inflammations, you will bleed more, and you are going to require different treatment than somebody who is just fine and doesn’t have that genetic disposition.
Those would be the first things that I would be asking a functional dentist, or a holistic dentist, or a biological dentist, or a biomimetic dentist. Those would be the first things I would start off with.
How Long Have You Done This Type of Dentistry? Why? What Results Do You Have?
Dr. Nammy: Then I would go and ask, “Okay, well, it’s nice to know you have this concept. So how long have you been practicing this way? Are you actually truly in it to win it, and do you really care about how this process is done, or is it just a marketing scheme?”
So please go deeper and ask how long have you been doing this? Is it just something you’ve adopted recently, or has it been something that you’ve… And, your why’s. “Why did you adopt this way of doing dentistry? Is it because you’re just wanting to really take care and serve patients, or is it that you’re looking for a marketing thread because it’s a buzzword nowadays?” So that’d be the second question I would ask.
Now, the third question I would ask is, “Okay, well what are your results like?” It’s really nice to look at reviews. Really, when you’re reading the reviews, really see how they’re mentioning the root causes. You will see the differences between reviews in is it just about like, “Hey, this person was great. I had great service.” Or is it when you read the reviews, you’ll see the patients, other patients and third party patients identify and say, “Hey, I had a great experience here. I learned so much. I was empowered. I learned how my body’s related to the rest of my body, and I know how I can prevent disease and dysfunction now.”
That’s what you will really see in many of the reviews because you’ll see it over and over again. Not just one time. You’ll see it 10 times, 20 times, patients saying the same thing. “I’ve had a great experience because I have been looking at the root cause of diseases. I’m now empowered to take better care of myself, and I have been given the tools and techniques to be able to do so.”
Look for Patient Testimonials That Say the Dentist Found the Root Cause
John: Right. So they might say something like, “Oh, the dentist treated my hormone imbalance, and then that helped my mouth health so much,” or something like that. You’re looking for that kind of response.
Dr. Nammy: Yeah, and I’m also looking at the root cause like, “Hey, I had gum disease, but the dentist actually found the reason I had gum disease is because I have all these other things going on,” or “I have gum disease because it’s a genetic predisposition for myself because I brush and floss regularly, but I don’t know why I keep having cavities, or I keep having gum disease.” We’re actually looking at why are we actually having these problems?
John: Okay, and then are there other questions that you should ask?
Talk to the Staff
Dr. Nammy: Those, I would say, would be a good start. Then if you can get other patient testimonials, that would be really great. The other thing you want to do is ask the front desk staff, because they know. I mean, a dentist could tell you all you want till they’re blue, but you will see the staff speaking the same language. The staff will know how to answer it. “Oh, how long has a doctor been practicing, and have you had any sort of concerns that they’ve identified?”
Because you will have… If the doctor is working, the staff has been worked on. You would think that if they trust the dentist, that the front office staff or back office staff are seen by the dentist. Also, you’ll hear them because they’re with the doctor all day long. They’ll hear, and they’ll also see what’s really being done. Is the doctor really being true?
It’s really nice to have the front office staff be able to share that information and say, “I’ve really seen the doctor do amazing things,” because patients will tell them. They will tell front office staff a lot of different things that they don’t tell the dentist, and they’ll be open with them and be like, “Hey, I’m really happy,” or “This really worked out for me,” or, “Hey, my anxiety’s gone away, and I’m so excited. I really love coming here now.” You’ll see the same things that you see in reviews, you’ll hear it from the staff as well. Because if you wanted to go a little step deeper, you could hear it and interview the staff, as well.
Find a Dentist Committed to Constant Learning
John: Is there anything that you can learn from where the dentist studied, or what type of degree they have, or anything like that?
Dr. Nammy: I feel like dentistry, especially when it comes to holistic or functional, there really isn’t as much, unless you’re really a researcher, isn’t an organization out there that will just be like, this is the best place for it. The things you want to look at is, is a person taking constant, continual education in holistic, functional, and biological dentistry and health. Because this arena is such a new environment, that there isn’t a certification or a schooling that offers this.
What there is, is there’s going to be traditional education that’s going to come around, which is fantastic. That’s a bare minimum of the bare ground. Now, they’ve got to go for additional schooling and additional information that they should be seeking. That’s really what you want to look for is like, “Hey, where are you going? Are you getting involved with the functional dentist? Are you getting involved with the functional medicine people,” or, “Have you gone through functional medicine school?”
That’s one of the things I did is went through functional medicine training for two years, and really been able to figure out how I can serve my patients better, and really understand the link in depth, and really be able to provide that information.
To Learn More, Contact Green Dentistry
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.
John: For more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-433-0119.