For many years I was stumped when a small percentage of my dental implant patients had a problem with their implants not taking hold. There was no obvious reason why this person shouldn’t have the same success as any other patient. I questioned myself first. Had I done something that prevented the implant from taking? Or was there an underlying reason for this failure to achieve good results? I asked myself these questions endlessly as I pursued every avenue possible.
Dental implants are considered to be the gold standard of tooth replacement. A long-standing track record of dental implants proves them to be the best functioning, best looking and best feeling of all the tooth replacement options ever created by man. The national success ratio is over 95 percent. But for the few people who have a failure, the failure rate is ultimately 100 percent. That was something I couldn’t handle easily. There had to be a better answer.
A Turning Point
Then I had a heart attack. Little did I know that this health “crisis” was just the turning point I needed to find the answers I was looking for so desperately. I love the origin of the word “crisis”. I, to decide or discriminate, and to sift and separate. And that’s exactly what any crisis, health or otherwise, offers us humans.
My heart attack led to a series of tests that turned me back to my own profession. I received test results that indicated I should “see my dentist to find out if I have periodontal disease.” This surprising directive came as a result of a simple saliva test. In this test, the different kinds of and levels of bacteria are clearly shown with the markers of the body’s tolerance to those attacking bacteria.
My curiosity was even more piqued. The more I delved into this topic, the more I became aware that the second leading cause of cardiovascular incidents and stroke is periodontal disease. This incredible evidence indicated that in certain patients their oral health could predict how they would handle disease and how their bodies would respond to corrective therapeutic modalities.
My Heart Centered, Holistic Dental Practice
In my dental practice today, these saliva tests help me identify the top really bad bacteria in the body of each of my patients. They show me each individual’s body’s ability to handle inflammation and the threshold levels at which the patient’s body can tolerate the offending genetic markers. My practice is very different than it was prior to my heart attack.
Dentistry has long been about the mechanics; Dentists see a hole and fill it, never once asking themselves, “Why did this break?” The answer may in fact lie, not in the mouth, but in another part of the body, in the patient’s personal DNA makeup which can be detected through the saliva in the mouth.
My practice is no longer just about the mouth and giving someone a great smile. It is about the whole-body system, about identifying those patients who may be on their way to a heart attack or other health crisis and helping them avoid it as a result of identifying the bacteria responsible and making the requisite changes. In other words, I’m giving them something to smile about.