By Dr. Mercola
It goes without saying that your aim should be to avoid getting to the point where an implant is necessary, but if the damage is already done, or if you have an acute oral trauma, you now at least have some information that can help you make safer, healthier choices.
The impact your oral health has on the rest of your body is often overlooked, but that does not make it any less important. Likewise, any work you have done to your teeth can have a serious impact on your health, which I'll go over shortly.
Having a healthy set of teeth is a powerful predictor of your overall health. In my experience, sick patients who display near cavity-free teeth tend to get well fairly quickly. If, on the other hand, their mouths are full of fillings and root canals, the prognosis is not nearly as good.
The Link Between Oral Health and Disease
In the 1900s, Dr. Weston A. Price did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases. He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research is just as relevant today as it was back then.
He discovered that native tribes that still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost 100 percent free of tooth decay. Certain diseases were also nearly unheard of, such as chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, joints, and skin – the types of diseases currently plaguing our society.
Once these tribal populations were introduced to sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated.
His classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration details his fascinating findings and is well worth reading.
There's no doubt that our modern diet has changed the inherent health of our teeth and our bodies, and is the cause of nearly all our modern health challenges.
Today it's quite rare to find an adult with teeth that has not been marred by dental work of some kind, from mercury amalgams (silver fillings) to crowns, to root canals and bridges and implants.
If you eat properly and maintain optimal health, you're highly unlikely to develop cavities. They really only occur when you're eating the wrong foods, and growing up, I did not eat the right foods. As a result, I, as so many others, had a mouth full of mercury fillings.
To learn more about this, take a look at this video on what mercury fillings do to your mouth.
I eventually had them replaced with gold fillings, only to later realize that gold fillings and crowns cause problems too. So after I'd already made an investment of several thousand dollars, I decided to replace them all again. This time with non-metal crowns, for the most part.
Conventional Versus Biological Dentistry
Unfortunately, conventional dentistry has generally only evaluated materials to be used for their mechanical characteristics, in large part ignoring the impact that particular material might have on the rest of your body.
Case in point: silver fillings, which are 50 percent mercury, an extremely potent neurotoxin, have been used for over 150 years. Likewise, the fact that various metals have been used for years to fashion tooth implants is by no means an indication of safety.
We are currently fighting to have mercury fillings banned completely in the U.S., as it has been in some other European countries, and hope to be able to get this toxic material off the market in the near future. Until then, it's up to you to refuse them, or find a dentist who has switched to safer alternatives.
My own struggles with my teeth led me to learn about it in the mid 1990s and embrace biological dentistry, also known as holistic or environmental dentistry.
In a nutshell, biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any medical treatments performed takes this fact into account. The primary aim of this type of holistic dentistry is to resolve your dental problems while impacting the rest of your body as little as possible.
Unknowingly, your health can be significantly impacted by the treatments received at your conventional dentist's office. Oftentimes, the impact is just not immediately noticeable.
Implants Can Exacerbate Autoimmune Diseases
Currently, implants continue to be done without biocompatibility testing, and they are often used in extraction sites where cavitations (inflammation) are already developing.
Autoimmune diseases seem to be often aggravated or even initiated by metal implants.
Additionally, an event called oral galvanism occurs when you place two dissimilar metals in your mouth. You essentially create a battery that will serve to drive the ions of the metals out of the metal into your mouth and also generate electricity.
You may not realize it, but tiny electrical currents are foundational to the way your body operates biologically, and when you introduce a foreign source of electricity, especially one that is constantly there, you can introduce imbalances that can contribute to health problems.
This galvanic toxicity created when the metal in your mouth reacts with your saliva can over-stimulate your brain. This is true whether the metal in your mouth is a silver filling, a metal crown, or a metal dental implant.
Common signs and symptoms of galvanic toxicity include:
- A metal taste in your mouth
- A sensation of an electric charge when using metal utensils
- Chronic insomnia
Finding suitable materials to replace the metals currently used is proving to be a challenge. However, you may now have access to a far better option if you need to have an entire tooth replaced.
Hopefully, by implementing the strategies below, it will never get to that point.
Health Implications of Cavities and Root Canals
Dental caries (cavities) is a reflection of systemic illness in your body. And, if you let it go long enough to where the cavity gets into the nerve and blood vessels, bacteria can hide in the tiny tubules of the dentin, causing chronic inflammation and infection that is near impossible to eradicate. So, never ignore signs like a toothache or a cavity.
Also, remember that they are major clues that your body is not optimally healthy and lifestyle changes are in order if you want to stop or reverse the damage that is already taking place.
As for root canals, nearly all contain colonies of bacteria that can cause major illnesses in your body. Even antibiotics won't help in these cases, because the bacteria are protected inside of your dead tooth. And when these bacteria migrate, via your bloodstream to other areas of your body, they can contribute to or cause more serious ailments such as:
- Heart and circulatory diseases
- Arthritis and rheumatism
- Brain and nervous system diseases
Attending to your dental health is just as important as eating right and exercising for physical health. The two are connected, not separate systems, and each affects the other.
Do You Know What Makes for Healthy Teeth?
Although many would like to believe that regular brushing and flossing is all that's needed for healthy teeth, it's by no means the most important factor determining your oral health. Others insist that fluoride is the key. Don't believe it! The most important aspect is actually your diet, sans fluoridated water.
Hygiene practices are simply preventive aids that help minimize the destructive effect of a modern, refined diet, and fluoride causes far more health problems than it's believed to fix.
Another alternative to conventional dental fillings worth mentioning is tooth regeneration. The materials used for this procedure include solutions of chemicals that can actually rebuild decayed teeth. Enamel and dentin, the natural materials that make teeth the strongest pieces of your body, may someday replace conventional fillings.
Although this would certainly be a step up from using toxic substances like mercury to fill your teeth, it's still a type of band aid.
If you want to have healthy teeth, and a similarly healthy body, you must start from the inside out, and that means cleaning up your diet.
Healthy Diet, Healthy Teeth
When Dr. Price studied native diets, he noticed certain similarities in the foods that were keeping them so healthy. Among them:
- The foods were natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contained no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).
- The people ate foods that grew in their native environment. In other words, they ate locally grown, seasonal foods.
- Many of the cultures ate unpasteurized dairy products, and all of them ate fermented foods.
- The people ate a significant portion of their food raw.
- All of the cultures ate animal products, including animal fat and, often, full-fat butter and organ meats.
When Dr. Price analyzed his findings, he found that the native diets contained 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins, and at least four times the amount of calcium, other minerals, and water-soluble vitamins, as that of Western diets at that time. Their diets were also rich in enzymes because they ate fermented and raw foods (enzymes help you to digest cooked foods).
The native diets also had at least 10 times more omega-3 fat than modern diets and FAR less omega-6 fats. And as some of you may know, a diet that is lacking in omega-3 fats, and heavy on omega-6 fats from vegetable oils (which are consumed so heavily today), is a recipe for disaster.
So, if you want to eat your way to healthy teeth, taking a lesson from these previous native generations is essential. You should:
- Find out your nutritional type, and eat accordingly. This will tell you which foods are ideal for your unique biochemistry.
- Eat at least one-third of your food raw.
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, refined flour and all artificial flavorings, colorings, and artificial sweeteners. Instead, seek out locally grown foods that are in-season.
- Enjoy fermented foods like natto, kefir and cultured veggies.
- Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils.
All of the brushing and flossing in the world will not give you the healthy teeth that the above steps will, so if you value your pearly whites, get started eating a healthier diet today.
Find a Good Biological Dentist
Everyone needs a good dental consultant and, unfortunately, they are hard to find. There is no shortage of competent skilled caring dentists, but there is of ones who believe in the principles I outlined above.
There are several strategies you can use to locate one. Ideally you would ask a friend, relative, or neighbor who knows of one. If that fails you can contact several good natural health food stores in your area and ask a number of the employees or even the owner. Once you obtain the same name a number of times, that is typically a good sign.
Additionally there are organizations like D.A.M.S and International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology that have referral setups.