Modern medicine invented a fake barrier between your teeth and the rest of your body when dentists split from medical doctors. However, we now understand that your oral health is closely linked to your overall health, and we strive to treat both together, a concept known as holistic dentistry. We know that oral infections can damage your overall health and try to protect you from these effects. We also know that jaw dysfunction can have far-reaching effects, and causes symptoms throughout your body. In addition, we know that your teeth and jaw can contribute to breathing problems that can have fatal consequences.
We call this approach holistic dentistry, and we believe that it’s the best way to ensure our patients get the best results from our dental practice. To learn more about holistic dentistry, please contact Irresistible Smiles in San Diego, Chula Vista, or San Marcos for an appointment with holistic dentist Dr. Shahin Safarian.
Non-Toxic Dental Materials
For over a century, dentists have relied on metal amalgam fillings to treat cavities. However, there’s a problem with
these fillings: they contain toxic mercury. In fact, mercury is the main ingredient in these so-called silver fillings.
Mercury doesn’t stay in the fillings–it evaporates or seeps into your body. People with amalgam fillings may have 150% as much mercury in their blood as people without fillings, including the most toxic form of mercury, methylmercury.
At Irresistible Smiles, we don’t place metal amalgam fillings, and we can remove your amalgam fillings and replace them with more attractive and healthier tooth-colored fillings.
The Health Impacts of Oral Infections
Most oral health problems are caused by bacterial infections. Although they occur in the mouth, the consequences of these infections can spread throughout the body.
Gum Disease: A Lingering Danger
Gum disease is a very common infection, affecting about half of all adults in the US. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, but for many people it never develops to such a degree. Instead, it remains a lingering infection that can lead to chronic health problems.
Your body sees gum disease as an infection, and it responds as it responds to other infections, with inflammation. This doesn’t resolve gum disease, but the chronic inflammatory state can be bad for your health, contributing to cancer and dementia risk.
Oral bacteria are masters at subverting your immune system. They can turn your immune system against you, leading to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, they can cloak themselves from your immune cells. Unfortunately, this also cloaks cancer cells, which lets tumors grow.
Gum disease bacteria also enter your blood and travel to your heart. They can infect your heart, but more often they accumulate in your arteries, contributing to arterial plaque, in part by producing fat that contributes to clogged arteries.
Thus, it’s important to treat gum disease to preserve your overall health.
Tooth Infection: An Acute Threat
When cavities grow large enough to penetrate the living part of the tooth, called the pulp, they create a dangerous situation. The interior of the tooth provides a sheltered place for oral bacteria to grow. This infection can then spread to your sinuses, lungs, blood, or even your brain. Any of these infections can turn deadly in a relatively short time, so it’s important to treat an infected tooth as a dental emergency, and seek out root canal therapy as quickly as practical.
Balance in the Jaw
Your musculoskeletal system is an interconnected system of bones, muscles, and connective tissue. Disorder in one part of the system can propagate throughout the body through these functional connections. This is what often happens in temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD). When your jaw is imbalanced, you can experience many far-ranging symptoms, such as:
- Jaw popping and clicking
- Locked jaw
- Facial pain
- Headaches, including migraines
- Ringing in the ear
- Ear pain or fullness
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers
Because the symptoms are so many and so varied, people rarely have all the symptoms, but if you have three or more symptoms, you should be evaluated for TMJ.
People with TMJ often have trouble getting successful treatment from traditional doctors, but a neuromuscular dentist can provide relief with an oral splint, reducing or eliminating many symptoms within a few weeks.
To Sleep, Perchance to Breathe
Sleep is one of the most important things your body does. When it sleeps, your body performs essential tasks related to memory, cleaning, and regulation of the body. To achieve these effects, your body must reach the deeper levels of sleep.
Unfortunately some people never reach these deeper levels of sleep because of snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring isn’t a harmless noise, it’s a sign that you’re not breathing properly. Without enough oxygen, it can be hard for your body to sleep properly, not to mention your partner who might be elbowing you to stop your snoring.
You will have to waken more often if you have sleep apnea, in which your breathing actually stops during sleep. This may happen hundreds of times a night, even though you don’t know it. If you have sleep apnea, you might experience symptoms like:
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Tendency to fall asleep at work or while driving
- Memory problems
- Mood disorders like depression or anxiety
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
- Heart attack
And more. Sleep apnea can impact your whole body, but the solution might be in your jaw. In most cases of sleep apnea, the problem is that your airway (throat) collapses at night. Your jaw helps support your airway, so by properly positioning your jaw, we can reduce or eliminate your snoring or sleep apnea.
Holistic Dentistry – More Than Teeth
At Irresistible Smiles, we’re focused on more than just your teeth and smile. We offer treatments that can improve your health, and that’s why we call ourselves holistic dentists.
To learn more about how our treatment can help your oral and overall health, please contact Irresistible Smiles for an appointment at our office in San Diego, Chula Vista, or San Marcos.