Dental Clean-Up: Shedding Light on a Toxic Topic

Dental Clean-Up: Shedding Light on a Toxic Topic

by Debra B. Hopkins, D.D.S.
Tacoma, Washington

Many of us who are concerned about our health have read Dr. Hulda Regehr Clark's book The Cure for All Diseases. Through her research, Dr. Clark has proven old theories that many diseases have their root cause as a parasitic infection somewhere in the body. She has also done an excellent job of describing the effects of environmental toxins on the human body and their relationship to disease. She even goes on to implicate dental work and dental materials as a source of those parasites and toxins, backing her statements with evidence of her own research and many case studies. Dr. Clark then turns the topic of "Dental Clean-Up" over to Frank Jerome, D.D.S.

Unfortunately for the reader, Dr. Jerome does not back his statements with research or case histories. Much of the information is simply erroneous and needs to be clarified. Additionally, Dr. Jerome feels that by giving potential dental patients four quick questions to ask on a phone interview with the dentist, plus what he has determined the dentist's response should be, the potential patient can determine if that dentist is capable of servicing their dental needs. This, quite frankly, is absurd.

If you are now feeling like you are back to square one, let's take a look at some facts and try to find a more practical approach to the problem of dental work. First, realize that all dental materials are toxic to some degree and second, that there is currently no metal-free permanent restoration. Dr. Jerome is in error when saying "plastic" fillings contain no metal. A "plastic" filling (the correct term being composite resin) is a plastic-like resin with porcelain particles mixed in for strength. Porcelain particles are called several names, i.e., glasses, mica, and silica. They are aluminum oxide; the same aluminum found in the porcelain crowns that Dr. Jerome is telling you not to have placed in your mouth.

The Argument in Favor of Porcelain

An all-porcelain crown does not wear rapidly. In fact, natural tooth structure will wear when placed in opposition to porcelain. Composites do wear on the chewing surface. The resin, the softer component of the composite, is worn away with normal chewing allowing the embedded porcelain particles to come out of the resin and be swallowed. This process does not occur with an all-porcelain crown. Why? To answer this, we need to have a brief chemistry lesson.

Metals, because they can carry an electric charge in your mouth and act as a battery, can undergo two processes: ionization and dissociation. In very simple terms, molecules in metals become ionized or charged and then are "thrown off" the filling or dissociate. These dissociated ions are then absorbed into the body, causing a toxic build-up of the metal in other areas: the kidneys, liver and brain are favorite sites.

Porcelain, on the other hand, is a glass. Glass does not conduct electricity and does not ionize or dissociate to any measurable degree. If it did, we would get aluminum toxicity from a drinking glass. Jess Clifford, M.S., of Clifford Consulting and Research, Inc., makes a wonderful analogy by saying if aluminum dissociated from silicas and glasses, then our oceans, which sit on a bed of aluminum oxide, would be a pool of aluminum soup. On the contrary, our ocean waters are relatively aluminum free. Another fact that may be helpful to know is that the half-life of porcelain, i.e., the time required for one-half of the atoms in porcelain to be lost through physical decay or biological turn-over, is well over 100,000 years. So far, this seems to be much longer than the "half-life" of the bodies where these crowns are being placed. Metals, like mercury amalgam, have a very short half-life of just a few years. In the final analysis, composites may present more of a toxicity problem than an all-porcelain crown.

Looking at Longevity

Next we must look at the subject of longevity of dental materials. The longevity of a crown is determined by many factors that are unique to each individual such as homecare, diet, grinding and biting habits, tobacco use, presence or absence of gum disease and so forth. On the average, with a few exceptions, the life span of a porcelain crown is 5-10 years. The average life span of an all-composite resin (plastic) crown is 1-2 years. The cost of the two crowns is the same. So not only is there a significant increase in the cost of having "plastic" crowns placed and replaced more often, there is also the danger of killing the nerve of the tooth due to repeated insults by the use of the dental drill and chemicals used in the impression and cementation processes. If the nerve of a tooth dies, you are then forced to choose between extraction of the tooth or retaining the tooth by having a root canal, and root canals are another lengthy subject which will not be addressed in this article.

Dr. Jerome also states that you should have no new crowns. While this is a nice thought, it simply isn't always physically possible. Once a tooth consists of over 50% filling material as compared with remaining tooth structure, the life of the filling is reduced dramatically and the chance of fracture, pulpal damage and loss of the tooth is increased. The dentist will make the decision to place a crown or not place a crown after considering the presence of the individual factors that were mentioned earlier, i.e., diet, grinding habits, oral hygiene, etc.

Choosing a Dentist

So, how does one choose a dentist? First, it would be wise to actually pay out of your own pocket for a consultation appointment with the dentist so you can ask your questions in person. This appointment might range from $65 to $125, and when you consider that dental treatment is the most expensive part of a detoxification program, it is a small price to pay to make sure you are receiving the best care available.

The following may serve as a general guideline:

Find a dentist that is willing to listen to you, your concerns and will answer your questions.
The doctor should be someone you feel you can trust. You should feel cared for and comfortable. The dentist should be someone that you are willing to listen to as well.

If the dentist is calling himself/herself "holistic," they need to have a concern for the whole body, i.e., spinal alignment, diet, dietary supplements, detoxification programs. Some dentists will be trained in some of these areas; many are not. Often those that are remain cautious about their use for fear of being accused of practicing medicine without a license. The main issue is for the dentist to realize that their particular modality is simply a piece of the whole, one step in the journey to optimal health. A "holistic dentist" will understand this and should be a good source of referral when treatment outside the realm of dentistry is needed.

Good diagnosis is essential. While the treatment offered by a "holistic dentist" may differ in some ways from the treatment of a traditional dentist, it is not voodoo. Medical and dental care, whether traditional or holistic, needs to be based on sound scientific principles and collection of facts. For the health care practitioner, certain information is requisite in order to comply with the standard of care for the profession. It is not wise to ask a dentist to not take x-rays or eliminate testing to save money, for you will not be getting the best care and you are asking that dentist to place their license to practice in jeopardy. The dentist will collect facts about you, the patient, by using dental x-rays, electric pulp testing, nutritional analysis, hair analysis, medical history, etc. A very important test, not even mentioned by Dr. Jerome in The Cure for All Diseases, is the dental materials reactivity test. There are literally hundreds of dental materials on the market today and all are toxic to some degree. The goal is to select a material to which the body will be least reactive. Without this test, it is possible the patient could have their amalgams removed and replaced with a composite that produces more immune reactivity than the amalgam. Hal Huggins, D.D.S., M.S., in Colorado Springs calls this the "jumping from the frying pan into the fire" syndrome. And this is true. There are many sick people who have gotten even sicker from amalgam removals because good diagnosis was not a part of their treatment.

Finally, while there are guidelines, there are no set rules for amalgam removals. We are all genetically unique individuals and each body has its own special needs to obtain optimal wellness. Some people can take megadoses of vitamins, others cannot. Some people can be strict vegetarians, others get sick on the same diet. Some people can have all their amalgams removed in one week, others can only sit in a dental chair for a few minutes at a time once or twice a month. The dentist and the dental staff need to be sensitive to the medical, emotional and financial needs of each individual patient. Probably one of the greatest heresies of our medical-dental system, propagated by both practitioners and patients, is to try to shove everyone in the same little box along with a standard treatment and expect everyone to emerge from the box in the same state of wellness.

Once you have found a dentist and decided on a mode of treatment, stick with the program realizing that there might be some set backs along the way or some modifications in your treatment. This does not mean the dentist was wrong. It means both you and your dentist need to continue to explore the miracle of your uniqueness and adjust accordingly. It is the only way to achieve the final goal of optimal wellness.

AThe Holistic Health Network.

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By Debra B. Hopkins

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