Natural tooth care

Views from a holistic dentist

I have been in clinical dental practice for over twenty years. I started off believing and accepting everything I was taught. However, having an inquiring mind, I began to question the accepted wisdom of my training, especially the effects of dental procedures and materials on one’s health. As a holistic dentist I treat people and not just teeth.

Teeth are, in fact, organs. They have a blood supply, nerve supply and lymphatic drainage and interact with the rest of the body. The blood supply in this region of the body is immense and anything placed within a tooth will, after a few seconds, find its way out into the surrounding bone and from there into the general circulation. This could be significant if the patient has an underlying susceptibility to the material or procedure.

An illustration of this process was documented in a medical journal. A patient developed a spinal abscess, the origin of which was discovered to be an infected asymptomatic tooth. Bacteria from the tooth, via the circulatory system, caused the spinal abscess in this susceptible individual.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is still very prevalent. The causes are well known: plaque and sugar produce acid, which over time produce decay.

Sugar refers to highly refined carbohydrates. Obvious sources are from biscuits, sweets, fizzy drinks and added sugar in tea and coffee; however, natural sugars in fruits are safe. It is important, though, to be aware that dried fruits and honey cause decay in susceptible individuals.

Plaque refers to the sticky, creamy-white film that collects around the base of poorly brushed teeth. It can be visualised using dyes (disclosing tablets available from chemists) or using food colouring applied with a cotton bud. Plaque is a complex mixture of bacteria (biofilm), one of which, Streptococcus mutans, is especially associated with causing decay.

We do not brush teeth to remove food particles: we brush teeth to remove plaque bacteria. Food particles do not cause decay: plaque causes decay in the presence of sugars. It is for this reason that brushing in the morning should be done before breakfast. Overnight the film of plaque bacteria grows back over the teeth. If this is removed before breakfast by brushing, there can be no interaction with any sugars encountered at the breakfast table and hence no acid production. Night-time cleaning is essential before bed.

The only things a parent can control are sugar intake and cleaning, and in spite of relatively low sugar intake and adequate cleaning, decay will still occur in susceptible individuals. One cannot control the other factors determining whether or not a tooth will decay: for example, the quality and structure of the enamel and dentine, the presence of grooves and fissures in teeth which act as plaque traps, tooth positioning, or the chemical make-up of the saliva. Homoeopathic constitutional prescribing and the use of tissue salts can be of help in these cases.

The development of teeth

Whereas adult teeth develop after birth, primary teeth (milk teeth) develop in utero. They are naturally whiter than their more yellow permanent successors, and no dental flossing is necessary with primary teeth. Lower front adult incisors erupt behind the primary teeth. This looks odd and can lead to requests for urgent consultations, but it is totally normal.

Fluoride

I do not recommend the use of any fluoride-containing products to my patients. I do not believe that fluoride has any major effect in reducing tooth decay, in spite of all the statistics presented by health authorities. Fluoride is a powerful toxin that should be avoided. In the doses advocated for decay-prevention, it has a hypothyroid action (suppresses the thyroid gland), penetrates all bones of the body and accumulates in the pineal gland of the brain, causing it to calcify. Perhaps a better-informed choice would lead to fewer parents using fluoride products.

Fillings

“Silver” fillings should rightly be called mercury fillings, as they contain much more mercury than they do silver! It used to be believed that the mercury was safely locked within the filling and therefore not free to be released. We now know, however, that this is totally untrue. It can be shown beyond doubt that mercury vapour is continually released. More vapour is released if you chew, brush or have hot drinks. Mercury vapour is colourless, odourless and tasteless. It is inhaled into the lungs and rapidly enters the brain via the nasal lining. It easily crosses cell membranes and concentrates primarily in the nervous system, liver, kidneys and gut.

Nothing can persuade me that placing a substance in the body that releases mercury, one of the most toxic substances on the planet, is anything but total madness. But how exactly can mercury be harmful to health?

Firstly, there is the problem of toxicity from the accumulation of mercury in body tissues. In a susceptible person this could pose a serious health threat. Secondly, there is the problem of electrical activity. Each filling acts like a tiny battery, generating small currents that are a thousand times greater in magnitude than those utilised by our nervous systems. These huge currents interfere with normal nerve impulse conduction. Thirdly, some individuals are allergic to components of the metal filling. In these people, serious auto-immune problems may arise. Recent scientific advances allow for allergy testing in such cases.

If you are pregnant you must not have any mercury fillings removed or placed, as mercury vapour easily crosses the placenta. Children should never have mercury fillings, and neither should adults.

White fillings, though not ideal, are, to date, safer than the alternative mercury fillings, and can be placed in any size of cavity. I am frequently told that a dentist would not place a white filling because the cavity was considered too large for it to be successful. This is simply not true.

The importance of oral hygiene

A clean mouth is not only essential for limiting the risks of tooth decay and gum disease, but has been shown to have broader health consequences. In a mouth where oral hygiene is poor, the gums become red and swollen and bleed readily when brushed. Bleeding is a sign of gum inflammation. When the gums bleed, plaque bacteria enter the bloodstream and are free to circulate around the body. Research has shown that these bacteria, in susceptible individuals, can precipitate heart problems and strokes. Women with poor oral hygiene are more likely to have pre-term, low-weight babies.

The more dental treatment you have, the more you will need to maintain this in the future. Try to have as little treatment as possible. The best dentistry is no dentistry.

 

Some useful homoeopathic remedies for dental problems:

Sensitive teeth (sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet where the reaction last for only a few seconds)

  • Swab tooth with Propolis tincture.
  • Take Hypericum 200c twice daily.

Toothache (relieved by holding ice cold water over tooth)

Coffea cruda 6c, as needed.

General toothache

  • Plantago 6c, three times a day.
  • Rinse mouth with Plantago tincture (ten drops diluted in half a cup of warm water).

Any throbbing pain

  • Belladonna 30c, three times a day.

Pain due to infection (abscess formation)

  • Gunpowder 6x every fifteen minutes for six doses, then twice a day thereafter.
  • In addition, Hepar sulph. 6c twice a day.

 

Written by K M Hajikakou

Dr Hajikakou is a dental surgeon practising in Rye, East Sussex. His training includes homoeopathy and hypnosis as well as conventional dentistry.