When I treat my patients, I’m always looking for sources of inflammation because it’s the root of most chronic diseases, including autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s or MS. I’ve found that inflammation is often caused by five major environmental factors: our diets, a leaky gut, stress, toxins, and infections.
Changing the diet and healing the gut are big first steps in getting to the root of your health problem, but the gut isn’t the only place where persistent infections and toxins such as heavy metals can easily enter the bloodstream. There’s another major point of potential exposure: the mouth.
We tend to see human anatomy in terms of separate systems, with dental health as somehow distinct from the rest of the body. But there is no separation — infections and toxins in the mouth affect your health as a whole! So, what’s in your mouth?
A root canal is a common procedure in which a tooth’s nerve is killed, but the tooth itself is not removed. The dead tissue becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, specifically to the periodontal ligament, a hard to reach area of the tooth that is very difficult to flush out manually. Since the tooth no longer has a blood supply, neither immune cells nor antibiotics can reach the decaying tissue. The ongoing infection leads to inflammation, which stresses the immune system.
When wisdom teeth are removed, cavitations are a common complication. They can occur in the jaw after a tooth extraction, when gum tissue grows over the hollow area and bacteria begin to propagate. Bacteria within a cavitation again create inflammation and agitate the immune system.
Bridges and Retainers
If you have an autoimmune disease or another chronic health condition, you may be sensitive to certain foods, yes, but also to specific materials used in dentistry. Bridges and retainers for example, are usually made with stainless steel that contains nickel, a known allergen which can also activate the immune system.
Amalgam fillings are made with a mixture of copper, silver, and mercury. Mercury is incredibly toxic, and exposure to mercury has vast health consequences, including neurological symptoms, muscle weakness, and impaired vision. Dental amalgams emit mercury vapor, that can leach into your bloodstream.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you have amalgam fillings, just open your mouth and look: do you have fillings that look metallic? Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about removing them safely if you’re worried about your toxic burden.
A crown can actually exacerbate the effects of mercury when placed over a tooth with an amalgam filling. It can create an electric current that interferes with your own body’s natural electric current, which can create bizarre and uncomfortable auditory and sensory symptoms for those who are sensitive.
In general, gold fillings are preferable to amalgam fillings. But when gold is combined with other metals in your mouth, it too can create an electric current in your body. I have seen patients who complained of buzzing and ringing in their ears, only to find those symptoms resolved when their metal dental work was taken out.
A Functional Medicine Approach to Dentistry
In biological dentistry, an emphasis is placed on only using materials which are compatible with the patient’s body. Each person is different when it comes to what materials they can tolerate and how well they get rid of toxins like mercury. In my clinic, I run tests to see which foods my patients are reactive to; a biological dentist may test your blood to find out which materials are incompatible with you, most often with Clifford Materials Reactivity Testing (CMRT).
If you have fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or another chronic condition, your immune system is already in overdrive, and incompatible materials in your mouth or infections could be adding more stress. If you have amalgam fillings or other dental work, or suspect that you have an infection, make sure a biological dentist is correcting the problem for you. They are trained in the safe removal of previous dental work. A conventional dentist might be able to remove your fillings, but they could endanger you or themselves more by not taking the necessary precautions or disposing of the material properly. Listen to my podcast with biological dentist Stuart Nunnally, DDS, for key questions you can ask your dentist, or check out my interview with him and 38 other autoimmune experts from The Autoimmune Summit.
Remember, what’s in your mouth does affect the rest of your body. If you haven’t achieved the level of health you want and deserve, it could be the missing piece of the puzzle for you.
To find a biological dentist, you can search for one in your area at www.IAOMT.com, The International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.