Want a healthier smile, naturally?

Photo: istockphoto.com/chuckcollier
Try biological dentistry!

If eyes are a window into the soul, the mouth may be a window into more earthly well-being. Even the most diligent of flossers may find their endeavours frustrated if other factors undermine their efforts to maintain those pearly whites.

Dentistry may have existed as far back as 7000 BC but it was not a specialty itself until somewhere between 1650 and 1800. Until then performed by general health practitioners such as barbers and physicians, the maintenance and health of the mouth was recognized as integrally tied to our general constitution. Our pre-agricultural and pre-industrial hunter-gatherer ancestors displayed very little indication of oral pathology. We can partially blame oral health problems on the historically recent dependence on a carbohydrate- rich diet comprised of flour and sugar. This sustenance shift caused both a decrease in bacterial diversity, and therefore in beneficial bacteria, and an increase in the pathogens that cause gum disease, infections and cavities.

We now think of dentistry as being isolated to the oral cavity, but a few forward (or backward?)-thinking professionals are acknowledging that the mouth and the rest of the body are inextricably linked, and that there are solutions beyond traditional treatments like extractions and antibiotics. We interviewed Dr. Michael Schecter DDS, a biological dentist, for a broader perspective on the art and science of oral health.

Q:What is a biological dentist and how are they different from traditional dentists?

A:I consider myself a biological dentist: a health care practitioner who moves beyond just functioning as a tooth mechanic…I recognize that processes in the body affect the health of our mouths and conversely what I do in the mouth affects the systemic health of my patients. I do my best to minimize invasiveness and toxicity while maximizing prevention and balance.

Q:How can I find one?

A:There are various organizations which can help steer you towards a biological dentist. www.iaomt.org has a postal code search which will inform you of the IAOMT dentist members in the area. I believe it is critical to ensure that any health practitioner you engage with maintains the health philosophy that is appropriate for you… I see it as my job to facilitate my patients’ philosophies. I will always give my opinion, but at the end of the day, respect my patients’ needs.

Q.Shouldn’t a dentist just look after your mouth and teeth?

A:The oral cavity is not situation on an island. Rather, it is intertwined, as a part of a complex organism. Optimizing tooth and gum health starts with ideal life balance: appropriate diet, water, sleep, sun, activity and stress relief. Chronic acidity, toxicity and other system factors influence oral health… Fortunate for our industry, what is typically healthy for the mouth is healthy for the whole system.

Q:Will my family have to make large-scale changes in order to be effectively treated in a more natural way?

A:I don’t think so. I think that gradual shifts are the right way to go… It is important to recognize that we are all on our individual health journeys with expected crests and valleys. As we learn more, we make changes to reflect the knowledge.

Q:Are holistic dentistry services covered by insurance in the same way as traditional services?

A:Insurance companies are not interested in the wellbeing of their clients. They are focused on points and percentages. I can send a pre determination into the insurance to see what they cover. I do my best to remain transparent with my patients so they can understand the finances. For example, I have this phenomenal new tool which can help to detect the rate of decay (cavity) in each tooth without the use of radiation… We can then work on preventive measures and follow up to evaluate progress. This will reduce the need for radiation, improve preventive efficiency and save on dental treatment. Not everyone is covered for this test… however most recognize the value of the technology. Even from a financial perspective, patients save long term, as any money put into prevention saves on dental treatment.

Q:Are your services/treatments/therapies more expensive than typical ones?

A:I charge Ontario fee guide. I don’t mark anything up. I recognize that dentistry is expensive and do my best to work together with my patients.

Q:Why would I choose a biological dentist over a “regular” one for my children?

A:We focus on reducing toxicity and invasiveness, and attempt to work with you to idealize your oral health. I offer homeopathic remedies and natural products as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. Even our cleaning agents are World Wildlife Fund approved.

Q:What is your position on fluoride?

A:I can discuss fluoride as a controversy. Health Canada maintains that fluoride is beneficial to protect teeth from the decay process… I would argue that shifting our diet from a refined carbohydrate base to live greens and beneficial oils will protect the teeth better than fluoride. I offer my patients an interesting natural alternative to fluoride, an iodine cavity guard. The research on iodine is quite profound.

Q: You perform dental surgeries, such as implant placement which traditionally includes the use of pharmaceuticals. How do you approach this from a holistic perspective?

A: I offer natural rinses and homeopathic remedies which can replace the harmful suppressive pharmaceuticals. I find my patients heal fast and with significantly less pain. Of course, there is always choice, and my patients are encouraged to select the route they are most comfortable with.

Importantly, Dr. Schecter’s philosophy is as much about prevention, personal choice and comfort level as it is about educating and broadening patients’ awareness of alternatives for oral treatment. It may be reassuring to know that there are gentler, less toxic solutions available and your family can benefit from the insight a biological dentist can provide into the mouth/body connection. Going to the dentist doesn’t have to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

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