Biological Dentistry: Today’s Paradigm Shift

By Michael Rehme, DDS, CCN (Certified Clinical Nutritionist)

After graduating from dental school in 1983, I felt I had received an excellent education. I thought I had the proper dental skills necessary to help my patients restore, repair and maintain their teeth and periodontal (the tissue and structures surrounding and supporting the teeth) health for years to come.

I also believed my job was to save teeth at all cost. The mechanical skills that were taught to me, i.e., fillings, crowns, root canals, implants and periodontal therapy, would indeed provide my patients the opportunity to fulfill these objectives.

During the first ten years of my professional career, everything seemed to pass by without incident. I thought I was providing an excellent service for my patients. I was restoring mouths and relieving pain just as I was taught in school.

For some reason I kept thinking that there was more that I should be doing for my patients. I realized that I was part of the health profession, but I really didn’t feel like I was actually contributing to my patients overall health. I was looking, I was searching. I wasn’t sure what I would find. There had to be something more than just, “drill, fill and bill.”

In 1996 I happened to be paging through a health magazine, The Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine. One of the articles discussed the potential dangers of mercury fillings and how they may be compromising the health of our dental patients! I must admit when I first read this, I simply could not and would not believe that there was any truth to this inflammatory article.

No one ever discussed this topic while I was in dental school. I never read about this in any of my dental journals. Nor was it a topic of discussion with my fellow colleagues. However, I was always taught to check my facts before making a decision. So the research began.

It soon became apparent that the more articles and papers I read regarding this controversial topic, the more I began to believe that there really was some truth to mercury sensitivity. Are we using materials in dentistry that are harmful to our health? Why isn’t there more information available to dentists and to the public about the potential hazards of mercury toxicity?

To my surprise, I discovered that the “mercury debate” has been a hot topic among dentists and research scientists for over 150 years! Not only mercury, but root canals and their efficacy have been challenged as well.

Is it possible that a “dead tooth” could cause systemic complications (those that spread to other parts of the body)? Do focal infections (localized bacteria in the teeth and gum areas that cause infection elsewhere in the body) actually exist?

What about cavitations (holes, empty spaces) or lesions (abnormal structural change) found in the jawbone? What impact do these have on the jawbone and the rest of the body? G.V. Black, the father of modern dentistry, described the process of cavitations in 1915 as a progressive disease of the jawbone.

Needless to say, I became more intrigued. Consequently, I realized there were more questions that simply needed to be answered. Most of these topics have been around for a long time. Unfortunately, for some reason, the significance of these findings was lost along the way.

In 1997 I was introduced to the term “biological dentistry” by several colleagues whom later became my mentors. It was through their logic and wisdom that I was taught to think outside the standard conventions. I was taught to visualize dentistry as a key component in the holistic approach of treating the entire body.

Once I understood this concept, my dental practice would never be the same. I developed a new approach and philosophy on how I would treat my patients. I realized through my continuing educational process and clinical experiences that dentistry does play a major role in the health of one’s entire body.

Imagine when you were first born or as a young child; you had no fillings, crowns, root canals or implants; however, as you got older, the dental work soon began. With good intentions, dentists restored these mouths the best they could with the best materials and latest techniques available at the time.

It is my educated opinion that it’s in the best interest of my patients that I choose not to place mercury restorations in teeth nor perform root canals in my office. I also believe that cavitations exist in the jawbone, can be identified, and removed in a conservative fashion. There is much evidence in the thousands of peer reviewed studies and tens of thousands of clinical cases in the dental and medical literature.

I believe a paradigm shift in dentistry is inevitable. It is in its infancy but building a slow momentum. Changes in the practice of dentistry are occurring as we continue to pay more attention to the materials we use and procedures we perform.

Biocompatibility (the compatibility of dental materials with one’s body) will become the buzzword in dentistry. We can no longer restore the mouth as if we were building a house. Mechanical solutions alone are not enough. We must consider the biological effects that dentistry has on the entire body.

 Dr. Michael Rehme, DDS, CCN is one of the few Dentists in the U.S. that are Certified Clinical Nutritionists (CCN). He practices Biological Dentistry that includes mercury free, tooth colored fillings; healthy dental materials; balancing body chemistry; and nutritional therapy. For articles and information about Biological Dentistry and patient success stories visit www.ToothBody.com or call his office 314-997-2550. Attend a free monthly presentation and discussion by Dr. Rehme on Biological Dentistry the third Tuesday each month at 6:30 pm. Please call to verify the date and reserve your space.