Deciding who to entrust with your care can be tough!
The best thing you can do is research and ask questions until you find the dentist you feel both confident and comfortable with, who has the skills, knowledge and orientation you seek.
The answers we provide are intended to be general, not specific. We provide them to help you in your search for a dental home and make informed decisions about your oral and overall health.
We encourage you to talk with each office you consider before scheduling any appointment. Find out about the dentist’s beliefs and practices. You’re looking for the best match for your individual health situation, needs, values and priorities.
May I talk with you about my dental health situation over the phone or visit your office before making an appointment?
The response to this question can tell you if the dentist will take the time to listen and consider your individual needs and concerns. Don’t be surprised, though, if the office doesn’t quote an exact time or cost for any particular procedure at this time. Every case is unique, and the factors that make it so remain unknowns until after your initial exam and appropriate diagnostic work is done.
What may I expect during an initial exam and consultation?
Any initial appointment is a kind of fact-finding mission. The dentist and staff conduct a variety of evaluations that are appropriate to your health situation, including a traditional oral health exam and x-rays. Newer x-rays are digital and expose you to less radiation than conventional film x-rays. Other testing may include galvanic readings, oral cancer screening, checking the bite, EAV/energetic testing, and diagnostic blocks.
Not all dentists rely on all of these other tests or may refer some of them out. No two doctors practice exactly alike. This does not always mean that the care you receive from one will be superior or inferior to that from another, just different.
Consultation time may happen at a different time. Your case might require the dentist to review and analyze the findings in detail so they can create a specific treatment plan for you. It will include discussion of risks and benefits, financial costs and treatment timeline – information you need to make an informed decision about which, if any, treatment to pursue.
Do you require a comprehensive medical and dental history?
A comprehensive medical and dental history provides a dentist with insights to possible concerns. It also helps you begin to see you own path and the relationship between various medical and dental events. For instance, there is growing evidence that patients with a history of bisphosphonate use – the active ingredient in osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax, Boniva and Reclast – may develop weaker bones, contributing to “rare but serious adverse events,” including unusual fractures, esophageal cancer and osteonecrosis of the jaw, a painful crumbling of the jaw bone.
What kind of material compatibility testing do you use?
Compatibility testing matters, for no dental material is ”the best” for every person. The human body is dynamic, changing over time. Any product that’s not part of the body is recognized as foreign and may cause a reaction. The goal, then, is to determine which materials are least reactive for each individual. This is especially important for patients with chemical sensitivities and allergies. The most common techniques used for testing are serum (blood) compatibility, Meridian Stress Assessment (electro-dermal screening or EAV) and Applied Kineseology.
What is your position on mercury amalgam? Is this a mercury-free practice? Is it mercury-safe, as well? How long has the dentist practiced in a mercury free environment?
“Mercury-free” means that the office does not place new amalgam fillings. “Mercury-safe” means they follow a strict protocol to protect patients, staff, and the environment.
If a dentist is knowledgeable and understands mercury biochemistry, it is likely they will take the removal process seriously. What you don’t want to hear is something like, “I don’t think the mercury in fillings is a big deal, but I'll take them out if you like.” That dentist probably isn’t too concerned with removal protocols and the safe handling of mercury. If the dentist provides the equipment, skill and techniques to protect his patients, staff and self, then the same commitment is generally practiced regarding appropriate disposal of mercury and toxic products into our environment.
Do you use a rubber dam when removing amalgam?
This procedure helps prevent particulate mercury from going down the throat where it may be absorbed by mucus membrane.
What other kinds of safeguards do you use in your office when removing amalgam fillings?
Standard protections for mercury-safe dentistry include eye protection for patient and staff; nasal coverage with alternate air supply for the patient; gas masks for the staff; high volume suction devices for the mouth, and strong mercury vapor and particulate filters for the operatory. Many biological dentists also use ion generators to help keep the operatory air clean.
Additionally, large amounts of water help contain the mercury vapor and particulate matter and keep the filling cool.
Do you remove amalgam fillings in large sections?
Biological dentists understand the amount of time and skill required to safely remove a failing metal filling. Carefully cutting the filling into large chunks reduces the amount of mercury vapor generated.
Do you use special rinses during amalgam removal?
Many biological dentists use special oral rinses before starting the mercury removal procedure and provide multiple rinses during and after.
Do your patients have the option of being sedated during dental procedures?
Many patients benefit from “conscious sedation,” which is carefully administered, monitored, and known for minimal side effects. Under conscious sedation, you are relaxed but awake and responsive to questions or requests during the procedure. Usually, this is done with nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which wears off very quickly once it’s no longer being administered. You are still able to drive yourself home afterwards.
Some offices offer IV sedation. This heavier sedation requires you to have someone to drive you home after the procedure.
I am not happy with my smile. Do you provide cosmetic dentistry?
A biological dentist understands the value and importance of a confident, comfortable and attractive smile. This means attention is given to functionality and balance, as well as aesthetics. Cosmetic services may include orthodontics, implants, veneers, and prosthetics such as dentures. Preventive periodontal or restoration services might be appropriate, as well.
Do you perform root canal therapy?
This is another question that reveals a dentist’s commitment to whole body health and understanding of the relationship between systemic infections that originate from oral infection – something that often happens after even “successful” root canal therapy.
Acknowledging that a root canal tooth is a dead tooth, we might ask: Does it make sense to allow dead tissue to remain in the body and not expect some kind of infection to spread?
Do you place metal implants? Non-metal implants?
There is some controversy around the issue of metal implants. Some healthy individuals don’t seem to have adverse reactions to metal, while others can trace a downward spiral of their health shortly after amalgam fillings, titanium implants, or other procedures were done. While many professionals do not see any relationship between oral and whole body health, most integrative practitioners prefer non-metal dental work. So those who place implants generally lean towards zirconium (ceramic) options.
Do you network with other doctors?
Biological dentists usually have a list of practitioners they network with, including MDs, DOs, DCs, NDs, integrative doctors, and nutritionists.