What is the difference between biological dentistry and conventional dentistry?

To me, biological dentistry is just... AMAZING dentistry! I have never felt any other way about it. Every time I learn a new concept in biological dentistry, I just feel like I'm learning something that will help my patients even more. No matter the subject, oral health and systemic health are so intimately and intricately connected, that I KNOW whatever I learn is valuable to help my patients. So I guess I will start by counting the things that make us the same as any other dentist.

  1. We still do fillings, crowns, extractions, dentures, implants (some do), cleanings, periodontal work, and orthodontic work. Even cosmetic dentistry!
  2. We still numb people up with local anesthesia when we have to do any treatment that would require numbing.
  3. We still sedate people when they need more than local anesthesia
  4. We still take x-rays and 3D scans for diagnostic purposes.
  5. We still have the same infection control standards to meet - we clean our rooms between patients, sterilize our instruments with the same autoclaves, wear protective gear, etc.
  6. We are high tech!
    a. We use digital practice management software for a virtually paperless experience.
    b. We use digital impression systems.
    c. We make 3D printed/milled crowns
    d. We use digital x-rays.
    e. We use lasers to assist us in all sorts of procedures.
  7. We still use the same impression materials when we have to take a physical impression.
  8. We still have to do the whole owning a business thing - pay taxes, do paperwork, keep records
  9. We still have to take lots of Continuing education to be able to keep our dental licenses.
  10. We still have to build our relationships with our patients. One person at a time.

Sounds pretty comprehensive, right? And most of our conventional colleagues who are doing EXCELLENT clinical dentistry are all doing the same things in that list.

So then, how are we DIFFERENT, because it sure sounds like we do pretty conventional dentistry...  

  1. First of all, biological dentistry is... a philosophically different approach. So let's talk about that. In dental school, we are taught that everything we do is completely safe. Any toxicity is minimized or downplayed. We are taught to believe that fluoride is a tooth VITAMIN, for example. But Biological dentists believe that many conventional dental materials are toxic. Mercury, fluoride, and BPA top the list. We believe that many dentists are sick and struggling due to exposure to these chemicals, which we were taught in dental school were safe. And it's simply not so. Because literally NOTHING WE DO IS NATURAL, if you think about it. Every filling we do, every cleaning, every crown, implant, x-ray, etc - all of it involves tools and materials that have the potential to be toxic to human beings. So we work towards eliminating toxic materials from our environments, and if we have to deal with toxic materials, we work toward controlling/minimizing/eliminating the exposures that we and our patients have to the materials. So we wear the "space suit" for example, when we remove amalgams using the PROTECT or SMART protocol. We use the extraoral suction machines, rubber dams, oxygen. And it turns out that, during this COVID thing, much of the dental world has realized that MERCURY SAFE = COVID SAFE!
  2. Biological dentistry deeply believes in the oral/systemic connection. FAR deeper than anyone would imagine. Conventional dentistry is starting to get the message, but it's slow to convert. A lot of research is coming out on PubMed about the links, for example, on the link between gum disease, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. Deeply disturbing information.  Here is one example, but there are so many more if you just do some research.  https://pmj.bmj.com/.../29/postgradmedj-2016-134279.full.pdf
    And we do treat gum disease! But we try NOT to have to use harsh chemicals or antibiotics to do it, as we don't want to create antibiotic resistance. We do of course, mechanically debride the mouth (we use our sharp instruments to take the tartar off your teeth). BUT, we also use lasers and ozone and nutrition and generally more "natural" modalities to get that bacteria and inflammation under control. Instead of constant chemical rinses and antibiotics that kill the gut health. Now, this is by no means the ONLY example. Biological dentists believe that the teeth are actually connected to the rest of the body (GASP!). Meaning, when something goes wrong in the teeth, it can affect the energy flow through the rest of the body. This can be a tough concept for conventional dentistry. Because dental school teaches us to be tooth mechanics. See a problem, patch it up. But they don't teach us to seek out the root cause of any problem.
  3. Biological dentistry believes in root cause. We believe that things don't just break down. That something causes the dysfunction, and that we CAN do something to manage, prevent, control and mitigate, if we just catch things early. We believe that sometimes, there can be something going on in a distant part of the body that can affect the teeth. A perfect example of this is my MOM! She came to me complaining of a toothache one day on her lower front lateral incisor. I took an x-ray. There was no pathology on the tooth showing on the x-ray. But she was hurting on that tooth. So I figured maybe she was biting on it in a traumatic way. So I adjusted her bite, so that it was no longer touching. It didn't help. She kept complaining of pain on that tooth. Severe sensitivity to touch. Now, a conventional dentist will, if a patient complains of severe pain on a tooth, suggest a root canal. BUT, I didn't see ANY pathology, and I knew that the tooth was very much alive. So it occurred to me that perhaps there was another issue causing the tooth pain. I asked my mentor at the time, Dr. Dawn Ewing, and she asked if my mom was having any kidney or bladder issues, because the tooth in question sits on the kidney/bladder meridian. I told her that my mom ALWAYS has kidney or bladder issues. Like - ALL the time. She suggested that perhaps she was having an exacerbation of a kidney or bladder issue. Maybe it was an infection going on. So I told my mom to go see her doctor. Turns out that she had a RAGING urinary tract infection. He treated her. The tooth pain went away as soon as the infection in her urinary tract was under control. It has never returned. The tooth continues to be alive and functional. But if I had done a root canal, I would have killed a perfectly good tooth.  
  4. We believe that root cause goes both ways. Root cause can also mean that something DENTAL or related to the mouth can cause other health issues. So we see our patients' medical histories as crime scene investigations. If we see someone who has high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, ADD, Anxiety, Depression, and frequent headaches, we are going to look in their mouths, and see these things manifesting themselves in the oral health markers. With that medical history, we will often find that the patient has one or more root canals, multiple crowns, sometimes missing teeth, a history of grinding/clenching/gritting, maybe some popping or clicking in their jaw, a deep bite, and tori (bony outgrowths in the jaws). Dollars to donuts we find a tongue tie as well. Often a high, narrow, vaulted palate, crenellations (tooth marks) on the tongue. Often we find periodontal disease and decay and infected teeth that are "fires" we need to put out before we can address the REAL root cause of their issues -- Airway inadequacy. Again, the word is spreading among my conventional colleagues, and I'm THRILLED about it. But it's biological dentists who have seen the truth of that oral/systemic link, and been the early adopters in growing airways.
  5. Biological dentistry also seeks to use biocompatible materials. When we have patients who have allergies, autoimmune issues, or other environmental or dietary sensitivities, we realize that we can't play fast and loose with the materials we choose to use in their mouths. Because let's face it. Everything we do with the exception of cleanings is prosthetic in some way, using man made materials. It would be arrogant for us to assume that all patients can use any materials we put in their mouth and be fine with it. Again, I will use a story from my own experience. I used to use a well regarded product as a cement for my crowns. And most people did fine with it. But I had a few cases in the short time that I used it, where the second I cemented their crown on, the patients experienced "down on your knees" kind of sensitivity on the teeth. The bite, the contacts, the margins - everything on those crowns was perfect. And yet, the teeth hurt. It was crazymaking for me, because I couldn't figure out why these poor people were having pain with literally PERFECT work (if I do say so myself - I was proud of the work, and it was beautiful!). Again, conventional dentists would be quick to suggest a root canal. But the teeth were alive and not infected in any way. So it occurred to me that maybe it was a materials compatibility issue. So I suggested to the patients to be tested, and if it came back that they were not compatible with the materials I used, I would redo the crowns and use the materials they tested compatible with. Lo and behold, the patients came back as highly reactive to the cement I used. So I redid their crowns, this time using a cement that they tested compatible with. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEIR TEETH CALMED DOWN. All of them. Talk about a wakeup call! Needless to say, I quit using that cement entirely!
  6. Biological dentistry seeks to be environmentally conscious. God bless our profession. We have SO. MUCH. WASTE. Our infection control regulations are stringent and we throw out a LOT of single use plastic that does damage to the environment. So in my office, we have been trying to find different ways to lessen our carbon footprint, because I promise, it's MASSIVE. We used an amalgam separator before it became law, because dental offices are the single biggest contributor to mercury in our water. We use cloth towels in the bathrooms and kitchen. And we now use cloth surgical gowns and caps. More environmentally friendly cleaners. All in an effort to put a little bit of impact on the growing problem of disposables and infection control in the dental office.
  7. Biological dentistry seeks alternative solutions to control inflammation and infection that won't damage the microbiome. We encourage the use of homeopathic pain control, natural antimicrobials like colloidal silver, topical essential oils, and of course, plain old cellular NUTRITION! We always have the pharmaceuticals as a backup, of course. But we would rather help your immune system work FOR you with cellular nutrition than give you a pharmaceutical that will kill your gut health if we can avoid it.  
  8. Biological dentistry is obsessed with the healing power of oxygen. We love ozone. We use it in virtually any application we can think of. It's a natural antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal. It even kills prions. We use it to disinfect anything we can think of, including our water lines, teeth, surgical sites. It's a natural antiflammatory. We use it as a surgical dressing in oil form. Literally, any way we can think of to use it, we will!
  9. Biological dentistry is determined to help your immune system work FOR you. When we have to pull a tooth, for example, we work REALLY hard to get every last bit of the periodontal ligament out, because leaving that tissue in there can cause your bone to not heal properly, leaving a cavern in your bone that interferes in your body's energies. Remember I talked about the energetic meridians up above? Meridians are the energetic super highways of the body. It's how your brain can feel a pin prick on your toe a split second after it happens. And how your liver knows to produce bile when you eat something fatty, to help break it down. It's how your body knows to produce insulin when you eat something sweet. Those energetic superhighways can become...communication impaired, and have a... traffic jam, when there is an improperly healed surgical site. The body's messages...slow down, or even stop, if enough of those pathways are blocked. And that can contribute to disease. So when we pull a tooth, we try to make sure that we don't contribute to that breakdown. And many biological dentists will then graft your surgical site with something called PRF, which is platelet rich fibrin, that they harvest from your own blood. And we will use ozone to help reduce the post surgical inflammation as well. All designed to help your immune system heal better, faster, stronger.
  10. Lastly, but certainly not least, biological dentistry is obsessed with PREVENTION. We are all about real, whole foods NUTRITION, because we understand the power of generational nutritional injury. If you want to read some FASCINATING books, here is a list and link to the six books that we recommend to ALL of our patients. They speak to the airway and systemic health link. To the toxicity and systemic health link and how oral health contributes. To the nutrition and systemic health link. I totally encourage you to read these books. The contain life changing information that can LITERALLY save your life, or the life of someone you love.

Now, I want to make it clear - many of my conventional colleagues are on the path. They may be making strides in many of the things I mentioned, and simply not be there yet on a few things. The sticking point for most dentists before COVID was the space suit for amalgam removal, believe it or not! They just thought it was the most ridiculous thing. Funny enough though, COVID has made the biological organization memberships grow. Turns out that they are understanding that they are wearing the space suits by default nowadays, and that...just maybe... the PPE thing was a good thing in amalgam removal.  

This thing called biological dentistry is a journey, not a destination. I have colleagues who have been on this path FAR longer than I have, who have more knowledge in their pinky than I have in my whole body. And I have colleagues who are still fledglings in the journey. They may be fresh out of school and still trying to figure out how to just do the basics we were taught in school.  I myself still have a lot to learn. Truly. Every time I think I'm there, God makes sure to let me know that I still have a TON left to learn, and He finds a way to keep me humble!  

I have lots of friends who are conventional, and I absolutely ADORE them as human beings. They are excellent dentists! I love and respect their journey, and they love and respect mine. Are there haters out there? Yep. I have my share of them!  But there is enough room in this world for ALL of us, and we can all help the people who seek us out in different ways. I am so incredibly fortunate that I get to live, and shine my light for anyone who needs it. I also get to have light shined on me from friends and colleagues and patients and family in my own journey. It's a mutual admiration society, and I am privileged to be a part of it. I'm almost 5 years out from my death sentence. I'm astounded and just so incredibly grateful that I'm here. I hope with all of my heart and soul that God allows me to stick around for another 40 years or more. I will take every precious second He allows me to have.  

Anyway, this was a LONG post. And even in that, I may have left out some information! If I did, please let me know and I will include it in a future blog. At the end of the day, suffice it to say that there is nothing about my branch of dentistry that is anything but about how to help my patients achieve the best quality and quantity of life that I can help them get. And my conventional colleagues also believe they are doing that as well. We just have...somewhat different approaches. And since we are ALL on our own journeys, it is not up to me to denigrate anyone. We learn when we are ready and not a moment sooner. And it happens when it's supposed to happen for every one of us, dentist or not.