Great Teeth, Good Health

from an article in

Healthy and Natural Magazine,
June, 2000

Richard T. Hansen, DMD, FACAD

The field of dentistry is experiencing an exciting revolution, much to the delight of patients everywhere. Dentists are gradually changing the way they administer treatment and offering more functional, patient-friendly alternatives to the drill, shots, and how cavities are filled.

What's even more encouraging is that by simply using modern techniques and utilizing stronger, more natural dental materials, dentists could eliminate most progressive dental disease. As patients commit to routine maintenance and dentists commit to alternative treatment approaches, the need for invasive procedures such as crowns, root canals, and extractions will become a thing of the past.

Dentistry continues to evolve at a lightning pace. To insure the most natural and comfortable dental experience, prepare yourself ahead of time by recognizing a few intriguing facts.

A Window To Health

The mouth is a “gateway" that provides a ready connection to other parts of the body. Given the vital connections to the digestive tract, the brain, and circulatory system, doctors in several disciplines of medicine have placed an increased emphasis on oral health in relation to overall wellness.

Just as genetics, environment, nutrition, stress levels, and personal habits contribute to an individual's overall wellness, we are discovering the subtle yet important role that the mouth plays in the body's long term health. In the years to come, dentists and integrative medical practitioners will continue to work together to fully assess an individual's health status and requirements before, during and after dental care.

Lasers On The Forefront

Dentists now utilize laser technology in many useful ways: to save natural tooth structure when removing decay, to bond ceramic cavity-filling materials more securely, and to reduce anaerobic bacteria along the lining of the mouth and gums.

The electric drill was invented and began to be utilized in the late 1800s, much to the delight of dentists. Although the drill had been the standard for over 100 years, many patients were uncomfortable with the shots of anesthesia prior to treatment and the whiny sound of the drill as treatment was performed.

The FDA approved the erbium laser in 1997 to present a more sophisticated and comfortable alternative for removing tooth decay. The silent erbium laser vaporizes cavities in a most precise fashion without affecting the nerve of the tooth or grinding down perfectly good tooth structure. Best of all, the laser is almost always used without anesthesia.

An emerging laser application in dentistry is laser-assisted bacteria reduction – a procedure designed to ward off anaerobic bacteria that accumulates between the teeth and under the gums.

Much scientific literature has linked infections in the mouth to many diseases in other areas of the body, especially the heart. Two years ago, researchers at the University of Minnesota reported that streptococcus sanguis, a bacterium commonly found in dental plaque, caused human blood to clot in test tubes. Clotting is worrisome because it is the basis for heart attacks and strokes. Next year, the National Institutes of Health will sponsor a global conference on the role periodontal medicine plays in health problems such as strokes and coronary artery disease.

Therefore, the goal of the laser-assisted bacteria reduction protocol is to reduce and control any preventable source of bacterial invasion into the body, particularly prior to dental or heart surgery.

Dental Fillings

At one time, the materials and techniques available limited dentists. Today, however, there are more than 100 different ceramic, glass ceramic, and ceramic polymer fillings that are superior to the older restorative materials in durability, function, and appearance.

The traditional style of dentistry has been to treat early, small cavities in children and adults with silver/mercury alloy fillings that necessitated drilling away large amounts of good tooth structure just to wedge the filling in the tooth and make it stay. These fillings profoundly weakened the tooth, thereby setting it up for additional decay, fracture, corrosion, and breakage. This invariably leads to much larger fillings, crowns, and in many cases root canals. The new advanced style of dentistry is to preserve as much tooth structure as possible, fill the teeth early with biocompatible materials, and structurally reinforce teeth to prevent further problems.

Taking it a step further, many patients and doctors have testified that problematic health symptoms such as chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, to Alzheimer's disease have improved as a result of removing their metallic fillings. The possible teeth-body interactions not withstanding, dentists are learning that placement of metal and alloy fillings can weaken the tooth so that future, more invasive dentistry becomes necessary.

Encompassed in the filling materials controversy is mercury, a substance considered more dangerous than arsenic by the World Health Organization, yet found in silver fillings nationwide. Trace amounts of mercury are absorbed into body tissues from dental amalgam fillings daily (at the rate of 3 to 17 mcg.). Therefore, dentists are electing to take a more cautious approach in the event that a patient may have adverse reactions or predisposed, genetic weaknesses to toxic metals.

A New Substance

A promising filling material called Biocalex that has been used in Europe for two decades has recently been approved for use in the United States. Comprised of calcium oxide, Biocalex actually expands to fill and seal the root canal. Several studies have shown that heavy calcium oxide continues to induce calcification of the tooth root, sealing off openings so that bacteria can no longer penetrate the tooth.

The Electromagnetic Connection

A majority of the body's energy blockages arise in the teeth and jaw. Screening tests can be conducted to determine if there is a blockage in the body's natural electromagnetic field. Metallic filling substances may be a factor because they are not only setting up the tooth for leaking, eventual cracking, and future dental work, but they may be blocking electromagnetic fields that transmit to other areas of the body. Necessary electromagnetic signals connected to the nervous system and vital organs may not respond efficiently unless these interference fields are eliminated.

Even if all the blockages to the nerve supply are removed, however, the body will not function optimally unless the requisite raw materials are supplied. These raw materials include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and hormones. For the body to heal not only must its electromagnetic flow be unblocked but it must be supplied with appropriate building blocks.

A Nutritional Approach

There are people around the world who have never brushed their teeth and yet have lived their whole lives with teeth that are free of cavities. Meanwhile, there are millions of individuals in the United States who brush and floss regularly yet have serious decay. Why? As documented in a book called Diet and Nutrition by Harold Hawkins, D.D.S., diet and nutrition play a vital role in determining whether an individual will have tooth decay.

The four defects leading to tooth decay as documented by Dr. Hawkins are as follows:

1. Insufficient Ptyalin

The popular conception is that tooth decay results when sugar forms a breeding ground for bacteria on the teeth. The culprit is typically starch that hasn't been broken down into simple sugar. When the body's tooth preserving systems are working properly, starch is broken down by ptyalin into sugar, which is then dissolved in the saliva and washed away.

When this system fails, the starch remains trapped around the teeth, feeding harmful bacteria that release enamel-destroying acids, which then cause tooth decay. Eating sugar and other refined carbohydrates is still hazardous, but for a different reason. Forming sufficient ptyalin requires sufficient B vitamins, which are found naturally in unrefined carbohydrates.

2. Insufficient Alkaline Buffers In The Saliva

Once the enamel-eating acids have formed on the teeth, the body's second line of defense is to neutralize them with alkaline buffers in the saliva. Its alkaline components include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. If these minerals (particularly calcium) are in short supply, the saliva's buffering capacity is lost and the likelihood of decay increases.

3. Insufficient Formation Of Saliva

The saliva's buffering capacity is lost not only when its minerals are in short supply but also when the saliva itself is insufficient. Dry mouths can be caused by diets that are low in fruits, vegetables and liquids, and high in cereals; by insufficient vitamin A; or by low thyroid levels.

4. Decreased alkalinity and increased acidity in the saliva

An acid condition of the saliva can also cause tooth decay. Increased acidity causes calcium to become more soluble. The dissolved calcium then washes away and is lost through the urine.

What causes the saliva's alkalinity to drop and acidity to increase? The effect usually comes from ingesting too much of certain substances that produce an acid reaction in the body including sugar, flour, bread, legumes, grains, and meat. When these foods are included in the diet, they should be balanced with alkalinizing foods, particularly vegetables and seaweed products.

Preventing Cavities With Proper Mineral Balance

1. Calcium

With adequate levels of minerals in the saliva, tooth decay is less likely to occur. Calcium is the most important mineral for protecting the teeth, as salivary calcium is the mineral level that changes most slowly. Ingesting calcium will not raise salivary calcium to proper levels exclusively. The amount and type of calcium in the diet, the level of iron in the body, and the amount of potassium and magnesium assimilated are also key factors to encouraging salivary activity.

2. Phosphorus

One element that has gotten out of balance in the modern American diet is phosphorus. Phosphorus is a necessary nutrient, but our diets now include far more of it than our great grandparents' did. Phosphorus is the chief mobilizer of calcium, drawing calcium from the bones and causing it to be excreted in the urine.

Our principal sources of phosphate (the assimilable form of phosphorus) are carbonated soft drinks and protein, particularly meat protein. Protein acidifies the blood, dissolving calcium from the bones.

In a University of Wisconsin study, people on a diet containing 102 grams of protein a day (a typical American intake) excreted almost twice the amount of calcium as people on a diet containing only 44 grams of protein (the Recommended Daily Allowance).

Alcohol and coffee consumption can also cause calcium loss. Coffee's effect on bone density is due mainly to calcium excretion. Caffeine is a diuretic, which stimulates the kidneys to excrete fluid. Most coffee is also acidic, drawing calcium as an alkaline buffer.

Making A 'Natural Choice'

How can we be sure that our selected provider is actually providing all the available treatment appropriate to our unique individual needs? Do your homework! Learn about which alternative treatment modalities are available.

Learn what the treatment entails and the time and resources that must be invested. Second, make sure the practitioner is both knowledgeable and informed on all appropriate areas of alternative health. Recommendations from other health professionals, patients, and organizations can also guide the patient in their decision. Meet the practitioner before treatment and be willing to develop a high degree of trust, confidence, and rapport.

Third, does the dentist have metallic fillings? It's difficult to trust the recommendations of a practitioner who does not take his/her own advice. Finally, check out the advanced training, background, and experience of the dentist. How long they have been practicing alternative, metal-free dental care and what specialized equipment and techniques do they employ? Ask what additional readings, seminars, and training protocols they have attended. Advancements in dentistry certainly give patients something to smile about in the 21st century!

Virtual Reality Glasses

Out of sight, out of mind dentistry: Virtual Reality Classes remove the patient from the dentist’s office and take them anywhere they wish to go.

Advanced Particle Beam

The Advanced Particle Beam (or whisper jet) produces micro-air abrasion to remove cavities and tooth structure without the use of a drill, noise, or pain generally associated with dental fillings. Tooth replacement material can then be fused directly in the tooth.


The Digora acts like a CAT Scan for the mouth. It is a portable, computerized, intro-oral X-ray and imaging enhancer that prevents the uncertainties associated with surgery. By showing precise details of the mouth and teeth, the Digora can detect the smallest of cavities, take tooth measurements and create augmentations and enhancements; Radiation exposure is 75 percent to 90 percent less than conventional X-rays.

Erbium Laser

The Erbium Laser is the first dental laser approved by the FDA for use in cutting teeth and preparing cavities.

Argon Laser

The Argon Laser creates a laser fusion between the tooth structure and the glass ceramic or composite resin tooth replacement materials. This produces a harder, denser and stronger tooth that is fused back to its original strength.


The Cerec (Cad-Cam or Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) produces perfect, natural-looking glass ceramic (similar to corning ware) inlays, used for crowns; it fuses teeth together from the inside rather than grinding them down. It reinforces and strengthens a tooth without destroying or sacrificing good tooth structure, as is often the case with crowns.

ND.YAG Laser

The ND, YAG Laser is for soft tissue (gum) treatments. It cannot be felt and causes absolutely no bleeding while trimming the gum tissue. It sterilizes bacteria and, by creating a biological bandage, allows the tissue around the contour of the tooth to heal better.

Computer Simulator

The Computer Simulator is a cosmetic imaging computer that shows the patient a complete simulation of any dental treatment’s result before it is performed.

DNA Probing/Bacterial Analysis

A strip place between the teeth to analyze bacteria in the diseased mouth identifies and isolates specific bacteria, the treatment of which eliminates most dental disease.

Digital X-ray

Instant computer image of the teeth can be magnified 1000s its normal size to enhance diagnosis and color adjusted to reveal hidden problems. Requires 90 percent less radiation than conventional film.

Computerized Bite Scanner

Using a computer to accurately measure the mouth, doctors can correct the way in which the teeth and the jaw fit together to ensure correct biting function.


A device that measures the volatile sulfur compounds that produces bad breath. We can locate and treat the exact source of breath odors with this device.

Laser-assisted Bacteria Reduction

With the goal of minimizing and controlling any preventable sources of bacterial infection prior to having any kind of invasive surgery, dentists are now able to target and kill bacteria around the teeth and gums.


Computer-controlled anesthetic delivery system that produces an optimal flow of anesthesia that automatically compensated for different tissue densities of patients. The WAND delivers an anesthetic drop that precedes the needle, creating a aesthetic pathway right before the injection is made for a virtually pain-free process.

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