Have you asked your dentist the important questions? If you are not careful, there are dental materials and procedures that can potentially cause other health issues. In fact, as I explained in Part 1, your teeth are directly connected to other parts of your body.
Dentistry continues to evolve, so keeping yourself educated is key. Knowing what to ask your dentist and becoming your own health advocate is critical. Ultimately, you want to be able to work closely with your dentist and make informed decisions that are good for your mouth and your body.
Below I cover many things you should know: the dental materials you need to stay away from, how to find healthier “biocompatible” dental materials, what you should look for in a dentist, and things to consider when getting your amalgam fillings removed. (In Part 3, I will discuss the pros and cons of other dental procedures.)
There is a lot to cover, so please keep reading. I learned some things the hard way. My hope is that as you learn to look at your teeth and mouth differently, you can do it right the first time and stay healthy in the process.
What Not to Put Into Your Mouth
First, I want to discuss what not to put in your mouth: amalgam or “silver” fillings and crowns. Amalgam is a combination of metals, typically consisting of 50% mercury with the balance being silver, tin, copper, and other trace metals.
If you can see “silver” in your mouth, you have amalgam fillings (or tin caps). Many older crowns and onlays also have amalgam as their base, which you can see as a dark line about the perimeter. (Root canals, especially older ones, often include amalgam as well.)
Did you know that until recently, dentists risked losing their license if they told you amalgam fillings were bad for you? In their office, a dentist is required to treat all amalgam materials as toxic waste before it is placed in your mouth and as toxic waste once it is removed, yet they were not allowed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to tell you amalgams are unsafe.
Mercury-based fillings have been linked to numerous health issues, including neurological problems (think Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), infertility, birth defects, heart disease, kidney problems, gastrointestinal diseases (including “leaky gut“), among other things. It can also cause nutrient deficiencies and problems with detoxification pathways in the body. These heavy metals can be passed on to your children too.
Today, many people know to stay away from amalgam fillings and crowns and those that already have them in their mouths have been getting them removed. (See more about safe removal of amalgams below.) A large number of dentists have stopped using amalgams in their practice as well, however, some still use it since the material is inexpensive and easy to use.
Yet, you do not want amalgams (or any other metal) put into your mouth. Not only do metals, like amalgam fillings, off-gas when you chew food and drink hot liquids, they also act as antenna for electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). (See more about EMFs here.) The continual electrical charges generated by the metal in your mouth are a threat to your overall health and can create unexplainable health issues.
And, if you have more than one type of metal in your mouth, like an amalgam filling and a gold crown, you create a battery effect in your mouth. Up to 80% more off-gassing can occur, especially when the two metals are touching. (If you really want to see a visual of this, watch a short “Smoking Teeth” video here.)
Biocompatible Dental Materials
So, if you don’t use amalgams in your mouth, what are your options? The most common options include glass (i.e.: ceramic and porcelain) and plastic (i.e.: resins and composites). These options are closer in color to your own teeth. However, even these newer materials are not all created equal. Some plastic dental materials, for example, may still leach chemicals and off gas into your body.
Optimally, you should make sure that any material you put into your mouth is biologically compatible to your body. Glass products are typically better so that you do not have to deal with the toxins found in the plastic-like materials.
When it comes to fillings, one of the best options is low fusing ceramic, which also has the ability to heal micro fractures in the teeth. The goal is to make the teeth just as strong as they were originally, mimicking the hardness and wear-ability of the natural enamel of the tooth.
If you need a crown, onlay or inlay, be sure the dentist is using a newer type of ceramic that does not require a metal base. (Older versions often have a metal base that can’t be seen but can still leach into the body.) A zirconium oxide crown is considered one of the best because of its strength and color matching capability.
It is best to determine what dental materials are biocompatible to your body before you need a procedure. There is more than one way to do this. A good holistic dentist will have a test kit where you can send in your saliva to be tested against different dental materials. You can also be bio-energetically screened to see which dental materials are energetically compatible with your body.
Either way, the goal is to end up with a list of materials that are optimal for you: filling materials, crown/inlay materials, adhesives, bonding materials, etc. This is a list you can bring with you each time you visit the dentist so you can confirm the correct materials are used in your mouth.
Finding the Right Dentist
I would also recommend being proactive and finding a more holistic-minded dentist before you really need one. Be sure you do your homework and interview the dentist you plan to use before you have any work done.
Dentistry has come a long way in the last five to 10 years. Not only are there better dental materials, but dentists now use digital x-ray machines with less radiation, lasers and ozone to help sanitize a tooth before a filling, better modes of numbing that are less evasive, and new ways of protecting the body before a procedure.
There is a also new class of dentists known as biological dentists, holistic dentists, or whole-body dentists. They have done extra training to learn more natural ways to perform dental procedures. In addition, biological dentists typically use more biocompatible dental materials, ones that are less toxic to your body. These types of dentists do not put amalgams in the mouth.
You can start by searching online for a more holistic-minded dentist through the following organizations:
- International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT)
- International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM)
- Holistic Dental Association (HDA)
Keep in mind, however, that just like other types of practitioners, each dentist will have different skill sets and expertise – even within IAOMT there are accredited, fellow, and master members. The key to truly finding a more natural dentist is to ask lots of questions.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist
When looking for a dentist, you want a balance of someone with experience and someone that keeps up with newer technologies and materials. Below are some key things to consider when determining which dentist to use.
Use this as a checklist, in additional to the information above, when talking to your existing dentist or trying to find a new one. You may not find a dentist that meets all the requirements, but you want someone who is knowledgeable and willing to work with you as an equal.
Digital X-rays: If getting x-rays be sure they are taken with a digital x-ray machine. Not only do digital x-rays give off less radiation, but they also show more detail. They can be viewed on a large computer screen, which allows the dentist to review them in detail with you.
Keep in mind, however, that these digital x-ray machines still give off radiation. You still need to make sure you are covered with a lead apron as well as a lead collar around the neck (to protect your thyroid, tonsils, and lymph glands) during the x-ray. (I also suggest you take off any metal jewelry since metal can also absorb the radiation.)
Radiation accumulates in the body with each exposure, so you should limit the number of x-rays whenever possible. For example, you may not need an x-ray with every visit. Or, if you need an x-ray, see if a “bitewing” x-ray will work instead of a full panoramic one. Panoramic x-rays of the whole mouth use much more radiation.
Just because your dental insurance allows yearly x-rays, does not mean you need them. Instead, it is better to work closely with your dentist and get x-rays only when a problem is suspected. For young children, you may also want to delay x-rays until they are older, unless the dentist thinks there may be an issue.
Mouth Camera: An inter-oral camera is also necessary so that you, as the patient, can see what is really going on in the mouth. Close up photos and live feed can be sent to a large computer screen, so your dentist can more fully explain the issue and the suggested solution.
Often there is more than one solution to a dental problem. Being able to see first hand what is going on in your mouth helps to empower you to make a better decision. Sometimes “wait and see” is the best option. With the help of the camera, using before and after pictures, you can really see how things progress.
Magnification: The better your dentist can see in your mouth, the more precise the work will be. A dentist should be wearing “loops” that magnify what he is seeing in the mouth and a LED light for optimal viewing, similar to what a surgeon would use. (Some dentists may also use a retractable magnifying lens with a light, but it is not quite the same).
The loops allow a dentist to do microscopic work, keeping any invasive work to a minimum. When getting a filling, for example, and the dentist is scraping and grinding to prepare your tooth, you want to keep as much of the healthy part of the tooth (or gum) as possible.
Anesthesia: When being numbed for a procedure, be sure lidocaine is not used. Lidocaine is today’s equivalent of novacaine and it includes an ingredient that is a known carcinogen. It also hard for your body to process and can cause things like heart palpitations, shaking, and feeling faint in some people. (Part of the reason may be the amount of epinephrine used in the lidocaine.)
When getting local anesthesia, there are better options. Some local anesthesia break down in the blood stream without having to go through the liver, making it easier on the body. Personally, I know that I am extra sensitive to anesthesia. When needed, I make sure the most natural version available (with the least preservatives) is used. (I have used Carbocaine with good results in the past.) Being sensitive also means that I need much less than a typical person to get the same numbing effect.
(I have had dental procedures done without numbing, but I do not recommend this to others because the stress of the procedure may be more harmful than the anesthesia.)
As a side note, do NOT take Vitamin C before a dental procedure, because it decreases the numbing effect of an anesthesia. Instead, it is good to take Vitamin C (or another antioxidant) after the procedure to help detox the anesthesia.
Sedation: Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is another thing you should avoid. It has been proven to drastically deplete your body’s stores of Vitamin B12, which is a key nutrient for detoxification and many other processes in the body. (If you have had nitrous oxide in the past, you will want to get your B12 levels checked.) Nitrous oxide also increases the homocysteine levels in your blood, possibly for as long as a month.
“Sedation dentistry” has become popular too. You may elect to be partially awake or fully asleep for a dental procedure, using a type of medication, in addition to or in place of a numbing agent. If you remain awake they could use nitrous oxide or they could use an anti-anxiety medication, a tranquilizer or a depressant, all of which have their own side effects. If you elect to be put under using a general anesthesia, they may use a pill or an IV, both of which involve a certain amount of risk.
Personally, I am not a big fan of sedation dentistry because as the patient I would like to be fully conscious of what is going on during a procedure, in case something unforeseen should occur. If you find you must do it, I would at least suggest that you have a friend or relative in the room with you who acts as your advocate.
Dental Dam: Typically made of latex, silicone, or polyurethane sheets, a dental dam is used by the dentist to isolate the part of the mouth where the work will be done. This protects the rest of the mouth from debris and dental materials and makes it less likely for something to be swallowed.
The dental dam covers the whole mouth and is clamped into place at the gum line, leaving only the teeth requiring work exposed. It is especially important to use if anything is being ground, drilled, or extracted.
If you know that you are allergic or sensitive to latex, you may want to request one made of a different material.
Carry Detectors: A carry is another name for a cavity. A carry detector, or dye stain, can be applied by the dentist so that they can see if there is decay present. This should be done before dental materials are placed in the mouth.
A dentist will use various methods to clean a cavity before a filling or crown is placed, but much of the decay is not visible with the naked eye. When they apply the stain, it highlights the remaining decay. If necessary, they should use the dye multiple times to make sure all decay is removed. If not, the remaining decay will get trapped under the filling where it can continue to fester and potentially cause further issues later on.
There is also a newer type of laser available that can be used by the dentist to detect cavities and determine how deep they are. This helps the dentist to find the cavity in an earlier stage and without poking into the tooth, which can be harmful to the tooth enamel.
Ozone and Lasers: Medical grade ozone and lasers are two newer options that can be used by a holistic dentist to kill microbes in a tooth or in the gums. These are much more effective than just scraping and grinding and less evasive.
When a laser is used to disinfect the tooth, it is typically 99.99% effective. Lasers are also known to bio-stimulate the tooth, which helps to eliminate pain and helps the tooth heal faster.
When using ozone, optimally, you want a dentist that uses medical grade ozone, allowing them to use freshly prepared ozone gas and ozone water. (Ozone water from an outside source or from little packets is not the same, because ozone breaks down quickly, losing it effectiveness.)
When the ozone is applied in the mouth, it gets into the gums and between the teeth to areas that are hard to reach with dental tools. The ozone gas is especially effective because it can travel down into the dentinal tubules where other disinfectant liquids cannot reach.
Oxygen: Having a separate source of oxygen is critical, especially when dental materials are being removed. More typically, a holistic dentist will use medical grade pure air, since a dental laser should not be used around oxygen.
If there is any work that requires grinding or drilling, you should request an oxygen or pure air source be secured over your nose, so that you do not breath in the dental dust and/or microbes that get stirred up. Even if water and a vacuum are used during a procedure, dust and particles can still escape.
Protective Glasses: Safety glasses should be provided to block any dental dust, especially when there is grinding of a tooth or filling. (If you want to be proactive, you can bring your own.) Other types of protective glasses are used to protect your eyes from the laser.
Purified Water: A closed water system that is purified and not connected to tap water is best. When your teeth are exposed and/or your gums are raw from the dental work, you should especially avoid the additional toxins that are found in tap water.
Dental Labs: Most dentists use an outside dental lab to create the products they need, such as crowns, inlays, bridges, dentures, etc. However, not all dental labs are created equal and there can be a huge difference in quality.
A current trend in dentistry is to use labs in China or Mexico to save money. However, their standards are not the same as those in the United States, so they should be avoided. According to Dr. Mercola, some of the top labs in the United States include Aurum Ceramics, MicroDental Laboratories, da Vinci Dental Studio, and Williams Dental Lab.
Removal of Amalgam Fillings and Metal Crowns
Once a person realizes the toxic affects of amalgam fillings, they will often want to get them all removed and replaced. However, it is not as simple as that. Many things need to be considered before you have old silver fillings and crowns removed.
As mentioned earlier, amalgam fillings are full of heavy metal, especially mercury. To remove an amalgam filling or crown, grinding or drilling through the metal is typically required. That means that during the procedure, metal shavings and dust will be released into your mouth and into the air. It may also release microbes and/or toxins that lay hidden under the dental material.
The correct removal of amalgam fillings and/or crowns is a specialty in itself. I know because I personally had heavy metal toxicity due to the removal of an amalgam filling without any protection. Little was known about it when I had it done about 23 years ago, but I made sure I educated myself afterwards.
First, you must make sure your body is prepared. You need to spend time building up your immune system and making sure your main channels of elimination are detoxed and ready. The five main channels of elimination typically include the liver, kidneys, colon, skin, and lungs, but you should also considered your lymphatic system.
If you have a chronic illness or autoimmune condition, you must work very carefully and very slowly, and preferably with someone well versed in heavy metal detoxification. What seems like an easy procedure can create many health repercussions if not done correctly.
Second, you need to consider how many fillings you need to remove. If you have one or two, having them removed at one time is typically not a problem. However, if you have more fillings and they are located in different “quadrants” of your mouth, it is important to determine where to start and how much to do in one sitting.
You really need to be prepared. I highly recommend you educate yourself before having any amalgams removed. One of the best books is It’s All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness by Dr. Hal Huggins. He was one of the first dentists to speak out about this and this book is short and informative.
A good biological dental office that is more versed in healthy removal of amalgams will have special tools that can measure how much mercury vapor is leaking from a filling or how much electrical activity is occurring at the tooth. This will help narrow down where to start.
Another option is to work with someone who does muscle testing and/or bioenergetic assessments to help determine a course of action. (There are actually a few dental offices in the United States that have a bioenergetic practitioner on their staff.)
To find a dentist more versed in amalgam removal, you can search the IAOMT website here. You can also find a dentist trained by Dr. Huggins, or his successor Dr. Blanch Grube, by filling out this form here.
Additional Dental Protection During Amalgam Removal
Once you get the name of a dentist, be sure to go through your list of questions and ask the appropriate ones to help you decide if the dentist is right for you.
In addition to the list of questions that were discussed above, some key things to look for in a dentist office before having your metal fillings, crown, or inlays removed include:
- How do they determine the best sequence of removing the amalgams?
- Do they have a way to test you to determine which biocompatible dental materials are best for you, ones that will be used to replace the removed amalgams?
- Do they provide you with any counseling to prepare your body before the procedure and/or help you detox afterward?
- Do they use a high powered HEPA vacuum and/or a negative ion generator to remove mercury and other metals from the mouth and surrounding air during the removal of the amalgams?
- Do they use a special blue light to look for cracks in the tooth after removing the amalgams? Cracks are not uncommon with mercury fillings.
- Do they cut out the amalgam filling or crown in sections, instead of drilling or grinding, to minimize dust?
- Will they provide you with full body protection during the removal procedure including coverings over the body, dental dam, separate oxygen source, and glasses? Draping your body is important so that you do not bring metal dust or shavings home with you.
- Does the dentist and dental assistant also wear full body protection? Dentists who are fully aware of the dangers of mercury typically wear what looks like a full hazmat suit.
Importance of Heavy Metal Detoxification
No matter how well protected you are and how knowledgeable the dentist is, some metal will enter the body during an extraction. In addition, the amalgam has most likely been slowly off-gassing and leaking into your mouth and body for months and/or years.
Make sure you have an experienced health practitioner to work with who can give you targeted support before, during, and after the procedure. The more you prepare your body before hand, the smoother it will be afterwards.
You should also plan to do a very targeted heavy metal detox after the removal. It is not as simple as getting a blood test for heavy metals. Heavy metals can hide out in many different areas of the body and not show up in the blood unless it is moving. More comprehensive testing would include a blood test, a urine test and a hair analysis. Heavy metals can also be found using muscle testing and BioEnergetic Assessments.
It took me multiple years, using a variety of methods to clear much of my metal toxicity after my direct exposure. I learned what worked for me and what did not. Each person is different, so working with a professional that knows how to create a heavy metal detox that is specifically for your needs is important.
Before starting a cleanse, it is critical to make sure that your channels of elimination (liver, kidneys, colon, etc.) are working properly so that the metals leave your body and not just move around in the body. You also want to make sure the metal is detoxed all the way to the cellular level, not just from the blood or a particular organ.
Once the metal is out of your mouth, you may feel metal-free. However, heavy metals are most likely still in your body. If your health is strong, you may not feel the affects right away, but over time, if not dealt with, these stored heavy metals can harm you. They can also be passed on to your children while in utero.
Dental health is just part of your overall health program. Just like with your physical health, I strongly urge you to educate yourself. You need to learn as much as you can so that you become your own health advocate. Contact me if you have questions.
To learn more about how the health of your teeth and gums can affect the health of the rest of your body, go back to Part 1 to learn the details. In a future Part 3, I will discuss the pros and cons of other dental procedures, some of which can wreck havoc with your overall physical health.
Ultimately, it is up to you to find a dentist that you feel comfortable with and one that will work with you.