All dentists are required to swear an oath when they begin their careers. The very first part of this oath states, “Primum no Nocere -First, do no harm.” To uphold this oath one must be open to new information that might call into question treatments, methods, medication and materials which we may have all taken for granted as being safe.
There is no specialty in dentistry responsible for determining safety of dental materials. In Canada, dentistry relies upon Health Canada to set standards and guidelines in this area. World wide there are many qualified scientists researching the effects of various agents and chemicals on human health. Our responsibility, as health care professionals is to seek out and evaluate published studies in this area.
When this kind of information is based on solid research, ethical dentists must reevaluate their normal, accepted procedures to assess their risk versus benefit ratios and be prepared to abandon them.
Example of Some Dental Risks
Perhaps you have read about the risks involved in the use of mercury fillings for teeth. Or maybe you’ve heard about people getting sick by being exposed to bacterial toxins emanating from teeth that have had root canal fillings. Have you been made aware of the debate over the possible health risks involved in exposing children to fluoride?
These are all examples of issues that biologic dentists are concerned about. Most have pursued extra training in order to educate themselves to be able to safely address them.
In general, biologic dentistry deals with the following:
- Chemical Toxicity issues: The health effects of poisonous elements such as Mercury and Fluoride, commonly used in dentistry.
- Bacterial Toxicity issues: The health risks of exposure to toxins produced by various microorganisms which can beharboured in abscessed, or root canal treated teeth and in non-healed extraction sites (cavitations).
- Sensitivity issues: Possible immune system reactions to various agents present in dental materials.
- Electro-Magnetic issues: The electric currents produced by chemical reactions between various metals in the mouth can interfere in normal homeostasis.
- Energetic issues: Dental disturbances due to dental disease or various dental treatments, which may produce disruption or blockage in the flow of vital energy or “Qi” as defined by Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- Digestive issues: The manner in which teeth are restored can affect the efficacy of digestive processes.
- Environmental issues: The impact of toxic substances used in dentistry such as Mercury and Fluoride on our planet and the future generations that will inhabit it.
Today, through cooperation with other health care providers such as alternative medicine physicians and naturopathic physicians, and with the use of sophisticated tests, we can often identify whether any of these issues are present and to what extent.
The challenge for the dentist practicing biologic dentistry is to safely and ethically address these issues through dental treatment without putting the client at risk of greater harm. “Primum no Nocere” This is where extra training and even accreditation in safe and effective dental procedures is of critical importance.
Organizations such as the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) have developed education programs and an accreditation process through which dentists can become experts in the issues of biologic dentistry and the best methods of providing safe treatment for them.
More information about the IAOMT may be obtained by visiting their web site at www.iaomt.org.