Throughout history, dentists have been concerned with the relief of pain and suffering. Treatment largely focused on the surgical removal of infected teeth and bones, though we do find occasional evidence of attempts to replace or restore teeth with different materials.
A Quick History of Dentistry
Until the introduction of antibiotics, the consequences of dental infection were frequently death or, if one survived, disfigurement.
Starting in the mid-1800s, surgical techniques were developed to control deepening infection. With the introduction of anesthetics such as ether and laughing gas that would reduce the trauma of dental procedures, dental surgeons could give more attention to ways of restoring the individual to function.
The science of dentistry began to leap forward, particularly in the mid-1950s with the introduction of the high-speed dental drill. Suddenly, the dentist was in a position to manage oral diseases and replace or restore teeth with a dizzying array of materials that would only become more functional and aesthetic over time.
Thus was born the age of cosmetic dentistry. Yet in the process of making beautiful smiles, very few dentists gave any thought to biocompatibility. Few asked whether the materials used to restore function could have a negative impact on the body as a whole. The most obvious example is the mercury amalgam used for so-called “silver” fillings – a potent neurotoxin that is released from the restorations with every bite and swallow.
Mercury amalgam is far from the only dental material that may harm an individual’s health. Modern dentistry uses thousands of materials.
Biological Dentistry & the Mouth-Body Connection
The concern with biocompatibility is central to biological dentistry, an approach that recognizes and respects the relationship between teeth and body, oral and systemic health. In the same way, it is concerned with all ways in which conditions in the mouth can be a drag on one’s overall health and well-being.
Biological dentistry blends the best modern clinical techniques and technology with natural, holistic practices and traditional wisdom to treat more than just the teeth but the whole person. Biological dentists regularly work with integrative and naturopathic physicians and other healers to provide comprehensive treatment.
In this manner, we hope to achieve true restoration not only of form but of function in a manner that is promoting health and vitality.