Your mouth has a lot to say — and not just when it’s talking. Even if you’re not prone to witty banter or eloquent turn of phrase, your mouth still has some pretty insightful and rather amazing things to tell you. That’s because the mouth is integrally connected to the rest of your body. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but your mouth is really a giant toothy window to your entire body.
More and more, we’re beginning to understand that every biological system is interconnected, that every part of the body affects another. And because the mouth is kind of a big gaping hole, front and center, it’s a good place to start when trying to figure out what’s going on inside the body. You can tell a lot by looking at someone’s mouth and teeth.
This way of viewing the mouth — as a part of the bigger picture of overall health — is just one of the many important aspects of the field of biological dentistry. Dentistry has always been about clean teeth, a pretty smile, and minty fresh breath — and biological dentists want to help you with that and a whole lot more. They also take holistic approach to getting you to that sparkly smile and those tartar-free teeth.
What Is Biological Dentistry?
Biological dentistry can be hard to characterize and identify. Although any dentist can become an officially certified biological dentist, often, biological dentistry is more about a certain mindset and outlook. Biological dentistry has also been called functional, integrative, and even holistic dentistry.
According to the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, biological dentistry is all about dentists working with medical and functional practitioners to treat the entire patient, “body, mind, spirit, and mouth.” They want to do away with the us vs. them mentality that medical specialization tends to promote and work together as a team for the overall good of their patients. They are dedicated to providing ethical and responsible care with a focus on each patient as an individual. Dentistry is not a “one-size-fits-all” scenario, and every patient has different health concerns and requirements. (1)
Biological dentists look at the entire body to find the causes of dental issues, as well as potential problems in the body that may result from such dental concerns, and then work to solve both cause and effect. With this vision toward both diagnosis and treatment, a biological dentist's goal is the optimum wellness of every patient as it relates to excellent oral health. (1)
Consider the Alternative: Holistic Dental Care
Many biological dentists hope to blend certain principles of biophysics and alternative medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), with classic, “clinical” dentistry. They want to help patients diagnose, treat, and recover from health concerns — in the mouth and beyond — that may have been difficult to treat with more-traditional methods, or the causes of which have been hard to pinpoint.
Much like TCM, biological dentistry is very energy-centric, focusing on the energy that connects the teeth to the other parts of the body, including bones, glands, joints, muscles, nerves, and organs. These dentists also consider how and why this energy might be disrupted or disturbed and how that affects the body.
In their practice, biological dentists usually merge such concepts as acupuncture, electromagnetics, energy, homeopathy, light, muscle testing, nutrition, ozone therapy, and sound with more traditional science and dentistry. They might use red light therapy to increase blood circulation or pulsed electromagnetic frequency to treat inflammation. (1, 2)
Badmouthing Toxins: What Goes into Your Mouth
Biological dentists attempt to use non-toxic approaches and materials in their practice. Through nutrition and homeopathic treatment, they also aim to detox the mouth and body, especially from the toxins that some methods of traditional dentistry may have caused.
Instead, by helping the body’s detoxification processes, they can eliminate a lot of the issues that may be affecting their patients. Biological dentists want to support the body’s natural ability to heal itself. (1, 2)
Here are four of the major potential toxin exposures in modern day dental practices: cavitations, fillings, fluoride, and root canals.
Digging a Hole
A main area that biological dentists would like to remedy is cavitations. These are small holes in the jaw bone, usually resulting from an earlier tooth extraction that went awry — either that wasn’t done properly, didn’t heal well, or both. They are often found where someone’s wisdom teeth were removed.
If there is a lack of blood supply to the area, these holes can fill up with fatty cells, as well as bacteria, fungi, mercury, and pathogens. They may become infected and cause the surrounding bone to die. Biological dentists work to remove the bacteria, dead cells, and other toxins, and clean out the area. (3,4, 5)
Don't Rinse and Repeat
Fluoride treatment and rinses have long been a go-to for many dentists. Many biological dentists, however, insist that fluoride is not only unnecessary and unhelpful, but downright poisonous. This is because fluoride isn’t found in the teeth, nor is it a nutrient that can help the body function in any way. The type of fluoride that is found in water is actually an industrial byproduct. (6)
So if the thought of someone using something potentially harmful on your teeth leaves a bad taste in your mouth, try to steer clear of fluoride.
Having Mixed Fillings
You know those metallic “silver” fillings that make you fear magnets and worry that you’ll set off the metal detector in the airport? They’re not really silver at all — or, at least, only a very small percentage. And they also can be toxic. Metal fillings are made with approximately 50% mercury, combined with copper, tin, and that little bit of silver. Mercury is a heavy metal that can have many adverse effects on the body, especially the brain. So if you have metal in your teeth, it could come back to bite you. (7)
This is why biological dentists not only refuse to use metal fillings, but they also want to get them out of your head as quickly as possible. Therefore, amalgam removal and replacement is one of the many objectives of biological dentistry. (8, 3)
Although it may not be possible to make all dental work entirely mercury-free, biological dentists pride themselves on limiting the use of mercury as much as possible and using it safely and conscientiously when its use is required. Luckily, there are now many types of non-metal implants and fillings available. (1)
The Root of the Problem
A root canal is a procedure that’s intended to save a tooth that is damaged or sick from having to be extracted. Dentists get down into the center of your tooth, several layers in (below the enamel and dentin), to the root of the tooth — thus, “root canal.” They remove the pulp there and fill the root area with a rubbery plastic substance known as gutta-percha. (9)
Most biological dentists believe that root canals can be dangerous and likely toxic. As far back as 1910, a well-known dentist and the Mayo Clinic first pointed out the dangers of root canals, but they are still commonly used over 100 years later.
Therefore, many biological dentists won’t perform them and propose various alternatives. They also try to remove the root canal substances from the mouths of patients who have already undergone the procedure, especially if the root canal has led to an infection. (10, 3, 4)
The Mouth-Body Connection
As mentioned, biological dentists believe in the importance of the mouth as a connection to the entire body. No biological system is completely isolated, and the mouth just happens to be one of your body’s main headquarters. This affects your health in several ways. (3, 5, 6)
For instance, many bacteria have made their homes inside your mouth. Because of the way your mouth ties together everything from your head to your toes, these bacteria can cause health concerns throughout your body. There are oral bacteria that cause Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal ailments, problems with pregnancies, respiratory diseases, and pneumonia. (11, 12, 13, 14)
Dental problems can also affect the lymphatic and nervous systems. This is because your teeth normally drain into your lymphatic system and tonsils. If there’s a problem in your mouth that affects that drainage, everything above that point gets clogged up as well — it’s like a traffic jam. Then, your brain lymph can’t drain properly either, possibly leading to brain fog, headaches, and memory deficits. One study even suggested that oral health has an influence on emotions. (15, 16, 17)
In short, teeth are not just lifeless food chompers. They’re living, functioning organs, every tooth with its own blood supply, lymph, and nerves. Amino acids, vitamins, and minerals circulate in and out of your teeth. For this reason, some biological dentists believe that different teeth connect directly to different organs.
For example, your very front teeth and incisors link to your kidneys, bladder, and uterus or prostate. Your back teeth join up with your endocrine glands, heart, and small intestine. This theory suggests that your teeth act as little circuit breakers for the main power system that is your body. (3)
Watch Your Mouth! (And Your Gut)
You’re probably already familiar with how important your gut health is to the health of the rest of your body. In fact, it’s a common belief, especially in the field of functional medicine, that all disease begins in the gut. And seeing as so much of what happens in the gut passes by the mouth first, the mouth and gut go together like avocado and toast, like tooth and paste. They are very much intertwined, and good mouth health means good gut health and vice versa. (18, 19)
This also means, again, that mouth health = overall body health. Therefore, checking to see what’s going on in the mouth can be an excellent way to keep an eye on what’s happening in the rest of the body. The reverse is also true: If something seems to be wrong in the mouth, consider your gut health. (3, 5, 6)
The Vagus Nerve's Vast Network
The vagus nerve has tremendous influence on the body, and when it’s not doing well, it can throw off all sorts of things. Mouth and teeth problems such as toxins from root canals, heavy metals from tooth appliances and fillings, inflammation of tonsils and sinuses, and oral bacteria can all cause the vagus nerve to become irritated or infected.
When that happens, it can lead to a number of digestive and gastrointestinal conditions, such as acid reflux, food allergies, heartburn, increased bacterial growth, and leaky gut. This is because the vagus nerve controls the production of stomach acid, and when it has to take a sick day and can’t do its job, digestive turmoil ensues. (20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
As a result, your body will have trouble absorbing nutrients, which, as you can imagine, can lead to countless health problems. Where your mouth is concerned, a deficiency in vitamins and minerals means pain, tooth discoloration and decay, and weakened jaw bones and enamel.
And perhaps even worse, to try to get those minerals that it craves and isn’t getting, your body will often leech nutrients from your teeth and bones because these areas tend to have greater mineral buildup. This results in higher levels of acidity and bacteria, which can travel throughout your body and cause inflammation and illness. (25, 26, 27)
The Jaw's Crunching Impact
When someone has tightness or pain in the jaws or teeth, it can cause muscle tension in the neck and shoulders — or even throughout the entire body. It can also cause joint pain. An overly crowded mouth with not enough space for your tongue or teeth can also cause a range of problems, including airway blockage, body stiffness, and improper biting. (28, 29, 7, 8)
You may have heard of “TMJ,” used to refer to things like lockjaw, jaw misalignment, clicking when you chew, and a number of similar jaw and facial conditions — all of which are usually uncomfortable and unpleasant if not outright painful. However, this is a slight misnomer. TMJ actually stands for temporomandibular joint, which is part of normal anatomy. When there’s a problem in this area, it is referred to as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). (30, 7)
Integrative therapy for jaw pain
Biological dentistry uses a variety of treatments to try to alleviate TMD and related concerns. These dentists want to make sure that their patients’ cheeks, jaws, teeth, and tongue are all in alignment and that their joints and muscles are relaxed and not straining. They may use appliances to expand the mouth area to prevent tooth and tongue overcrowding.
Some use osteopathic therapy, which concentrates on manipulating the joints, muscles, and spine to improve alignment and overall health. Prolozone or ozone therapy can be used to decrease inflammation and lactic acid buildup. (31,32, 33, 34, 35, 36)
Another therapy that is popular among biological dentists is craniosacral therapy. This type of therapy focuses on the body’s fascia, or connective tissue, which is a network made up of the blood vessels, brain, glands, muscles, nerves, and spinal cord. The fascia is like an internal web that extends the length of your entire body, top to bottom. (9)
Craniosacral therapy involves using the hands to massage the body’s fascia, including membranes and fluids, to improve mobility and cognitive function, increase immunity, lessen pain, promote relaxation, and support overall health. It is thought to encourage the body’s own ability to repair and restore itself, and may alleviate headaches, jaw and neck pain, and tension. (8, 9, 37)
4 Ways to Make Oral Health a Priority
With all of this in mind, it's clear that oral health does much more for whole body wellness than most realize. It could even be the missing piece in your health journey. So maybe it's time to make it a priority.
Along with working with a qualified biological dentist, here are some additional tips for keeping your mouth clean and healthy:
Certain pathogens and toxins can worsen or trigger oral health difficulties. For example, grinding your teeth is a common symptom of intestinal parasites, which can destroy your enamel and harm your teeth. Plus, certain pesticides have been found to change the entire microbiome of your mouth for the worst. (38, 39)
Any sort of procedure or exposure to modern day dental work may also increase your oral toxin intake. While taking preventative steps through working with a biological dentist is great, you may need to look for ways to detox toxins currently in your system. Binders can be an important resource during this process to naturally grab and remove unwanted substances out of the body.
2. Mind your enamel
Even if you’ve achieved optimum dental wellness, let’s face it — we all still want our pearly whites to be just a little bit more pearly and white. When you see those enviable smiles in the movies, for instance, there’s a good chance that they’re not entirely natural and that their teeth may have been given a bit of a porcelain boost. But even if you don’t want to go the route of porcelain veneers yourself, you can still work on getting and keeping your teeth as white as possible.
White teeth come from within and are the result of healthy enamel. Regular dental cleanings help, but so does consuming a lot of tooth-healthy minerals to keep your enamel at its best. (40)
In the 1930s and 40s, a famous dentist named Dr. Weston Price studied different populations around the world. He noticed that people had very different diets — and far fewer dental concerns than in the U.S. Based on his studies, he came to the conclusion that the Western diet likely contributes to many of our teeth issues.
Therefore, to promote maximum oral health, get lots of fat-soluble vitamins in your diet, including vitamins A, D, and K, as well as plenty of calcium and other minerals. Also, try to eat plenty of clean proteins, including grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs. (41, 42)
4. Supporting good oral habits
There are small, everyday habits that make a big difference in the long run. Brushing and flossing are still important and necessary, of course, and should be done multiple times per day. Also, try using more natural oral rinses, rather than the blue stuff from the supermarket that burns when you swish.
Your smile is usually one of the first things that people notice about you, so of course you want it to look good. But your mouth can also be the key to good health. So doing the little things every day, alongside working with a biological dentist, will make a big difference in the long run for both a glowing grin and full body wellness.
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