If you’re a progressive and health-conscious San Franciscan you’re probably familiar with the term holistic dentistry. It’s a growing buzzword and one that treats dental health as an integral component of physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
But what you may not be familiar with is the concept of wholistic dentistry. That’s how we approach patient care at Green Dentistry. Today I’d like to share with you the fundamentals of wholistic dentistry and why it’s a step above the more common holistic care available in San Francisco.
E pluribus unum — out of many come one
The whole is more than simply the sum of its parts. That’s especially true when it comes to the unique brand of wholistic dentistry available at Green Dentistry. Over the years, I’ve applied the best parts of biological dentistry, holistic dentistry, and ayurvedic dentistry to create wholistic dentistry. It’s something you just won’t get at any other dentist in SF.
- Holistic dentistry – The mouth/body connection and theory of disease is a central tenet of holistic dentistry and helps us understand the origins of inflammation and disease.
- Biological dentistry – Biological dentists are similar to holistic dentists with a greater emphasis on prevention of oral and whole body health problems through diet and proactive care.
- Ayurvedic dentistry – This millennia-old Indian approach to wellness emphasizes spiritual and emotional health. When lacking wellness of the soul, wellness in the body is impossible.
“Is this functional medicine or drill-and-fill dentistry?”
Traditional medicine and dentistry focuses on results. If your tooth hurts and I fill your cavity and it feels better, have I done my job? Perhaps. But perhaps your diet is lacking and creating a maelstrom of bacterial activity in your mouth. Another cavity and another toothache is inevitable. This drill-and-fill approach to dentistry should go the way of the dodo in my opinion.
As a functional dentist, I look beyond solving problems and search for the underlying issues that caused the problem in the first place. We must work together and communicate openly to achieve not only the results we want, but the health we desire as well.
Examining the causative factors of disease and illness
When I examine a patient and see a cavity, gum disease, or other health problems, I don’t immediately think, “what’s the best treatment?” Instead, I focus my examination on the causative lifestyle factors that may be contributing to a patient’s health problems. I’ll ask about their lifestyle and health history, searching for red flags like:
- Poor diet
- Excessive stress
- Over-reliance on stimulants like Adderall or depressants like alcohol
- Diabetes, heart disease, obesity
- Sleep disorders
Hormones and the inflammatory response
Most people drastically underestimate (or completely disregard) the connection between hormones and health. Imagine your body is a 4×400 race at a track meet. The runners in each lane are the proteins, carbohydrates, and other chemicals that work together to make your body go. The baton handed between the runners is the chemical reaction. And the hormones? That’s the starter gun that sets everything in motion.
Without hormones, your body just won’t work.
Millions of people suffer from hormonal imbalances and low hormone levels that affect how their bodies work. The most common hormonal imbalances I see in patients include:
- Low testosterone – Most common in men as they age, affecting sex drive, fertility, strength, and overall wellness. As many as 10% of men may have undiagnosed low testosterone.
- Pregnancy – Hormonal imbalances are common during pregnancy. Often, these imbalances result in a weakened immune system and systemic infections. Gum disease is especially common in pregnant women due to these imbalances in the body.
- Adrenal fatigue – Stress and inflammation take a toll on the body and create a negative feedback loop. Stress begets stress and your body just can’t keep up. Adrenal fatigue caused by stress is the root cause of too many health problems to list.
Addiction and dependence
A shocking number of people today suffer from any number of harmful addictions and dependent behaviors. I look to help patients understand how these issues affect their health and how we can work together to create not only a better smile but a better life.
- Sugar – Some evidence suggests sugary foods may be as addictive as heroin. Tooth decay, and gum problems are the most common indicators that sugar may be wreaking havoc on your body. Diabetes and heart disease are often undiagnosed until irreparable damage has been done.
- Alcohol – Some alcohol is OK and even good for you! The tannins, flavonoids, and polyphenols in high-quality organic wines can help reduce your risk of heart disease. But a dependence on alcohol is serious and can cause liver damage, among many other problems. Alcoholism is also linked to extremely poor dental health.
- Medication – Abuse and dependence on Adderall, sleeping pills, and even over-the-counter pain medications are common and dangerous. You must break the cycle of dependence and allow your body to heal naturally. In the long run you’ll reduce stress and improve your health.
Schedule your wholistic dental exam at Green Dentistry
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.