The Role of the Health Professional in Dental Disease
But you may ask, “Isn't dental disease, and its side-effects, a problem that should be handled by the dentist?” I’d wholeheartedly agree . . . if the harmful effects of this disease were restricted only to the teeth. But, as you have read, they all can have a negative effect on the entire body. Thus, because you will be treating patients whose oral health issues could be contributing to, or even causing, some of their medical issues, it is very important that you are aware of their source.
To truly practice whole-body medicine you must know whether your patients are in good oral health, and your patients must be aware of the importance of oral health to overall health. There can be no doubt that making your patients aware of the systemic effects of oral health issues, particularly chronic mercury poisoning and gum disease will be invaluable to them and to your practice.
Addressing Oral Health Issues with Your Patients
I want to be very clear that I am not suggesting that you have to become a dentist or provide any form of dental treatment to your patients. Nor are you responsible if a patient doesn’t follow up on your recommendations. But you can’t afford not to at least address the issue of oral health with them, especially since it could affect the success of your medical treatment. Also understand that recommending that a patient see a mercury-safe dentist is really no different than sending them to another medical specialist. And in many cases even more important.
If your patients with gum disease and mercury amalgam fillings are willing to do their part to eliminate the problem, treating any existing health issue will be much, much more successful. If they are not willing, you will still have fulfilled your responsibility. You will also have an answer to those patients who don’t respond to your suggestion that they have their oral health evaluated - and then don’t get the relief from health issues related to oral health issues.
I have long believed that opinions without solutions do not have much practical value. Thus, I offer solutions that I believe will help address health problems created by oral health conditions. There are four important steps in this process. Following them will not only ensure you are practicing holistic medicine but also reassure your patients that you are truly treating them as a whole person.
Because 50% of the population still doesn’t see a dentist regularly you will need to ask all of your patients’ three important questions: Do they:
• regularly see a dentist?
• now have, or had, amalgam (silver) fillings?
• now have gum disease?
If they don't see a dentist regularly, or don’t know whether they have amalgam fillings and/or gum disease, you will need to make it clear that these issues must be addressed and they must be willing to see a mercury-safe and mercury -free dentist. (I say mercury-safe because while some dentists no longer put in amalgam fillings and call themselves mercury-free, most don’t believe these fillings are a health hazard and don’t remove them in a safe way. Always try and refer patients to a mercury-safe dentist and if you aren’t aware of one, my website has a large and comprehensive directory.
Tell your patients to ask their dentist to provide you with a copy of the current evaluation of their oral health, including whether they have gum disease, its severity, and how many amalgam fillings are present. This should also include the results of a complete soft tissue examination for signs of cancer, or other diseases whose signs and symptoms are first seen in the mouth, of which there are over 20. This information will allow you to either exclude or include these factors as a contributor to their existing health problems.
If the information from the dentist shows that the patient:
1. Has no mercury amalgam fillings;
2. Is free of dental disease; and
3. Is free from oral cancer, or any other diseases whose early signs and symptoms can show up in the oral cavity;
you can proceed with your diagnosis and treatment plan with the knowledge that oral health problems are not a contributing factor to any of the patient’s symptoms or systemic diseases. (The exception are patients who had amalgam fillings and are still mercury toxic. These should still be tested for mercury.)
If their dental examination shows that the patient has gum disease or amalgam fillings, or both, I encourage you to recommend that they make every effort to do what is necessary to eliminate their oral health issues—including finding mercury safe dentists to support their efforts.
You also have the option of testing patients (who have amalgam fillings) for accumulated mercury in the body. There are a number of tests that will provide you with this information and the most commonly used tests are discussed in my book and on my website. Personally, I feel the fecal metals test (Doctor’s Data, www.doctorsdata.com) is the most effective. It is also non-invasive, in that it doesn’t require a pharmaceutical chelator. Doctor’s Data’s website has information for the health professional and layperson about this test.
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