In using the term biological dentistry, we are not attempting to stake out a new specialty for dentistry but rather to describe a philosophy that can apply to all facets of dental practice and to health care in general: Always seek the safest, least toxic way to accomplish the mission of treatment, all the goals of modern dentistry, and do it while treading as lightly as possible on the patient’s biological terrain. A more biocompatible approach to oral health is the hallmark of biological dentistry.
By making distinctions – some obvious, and some subtle – among the available materials and procedures, we can reduce the impact on our patients’ biological responses. Our sense of duty to advocate for the well-being of our patients should make biocompatibility a high priority, and the fact that there are now so many new ways to make dentistry work better gives us the opportunity to do just that.
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) is an organization for that group of dentists, physicians, and allied researchers who consider biocompatibility to be their first concern and who demand scientific evidence as their key criterion. Members of this group have, since 1984, examined, chronicled, and supported research into the distinctions that can make dental practice more biologically acceptable. This “biological dentistry” attitude can inform and intersect with all topics of conversation in health care where the well-being of the mouth is an integral part of the health of the whole person.
Scientific evidence has established beyond any doubt two propositions: 1) Amalgam releases mercury in significant quantities, creating measurable exposures in people with fillings, and 2) Chronic exposure to mercury in the quantity released by amalgam increases the risk of physiological harm.
Dentists who engage in elective replacement of amalgam fillings have been criticized by their peers for unnecessarily exposing their patients to additional mercury during the process of grinding the old fillings out. Yet, the “mercury-free” dentists are the ones who are most aware of the problem. We present scientifically verified procedures for greatly reducing and minimizing mercury exposure which all dental office personnel should learn and follow for their own protection and for the protection of their patients.
Additionally, wastewater authorities around the world are on to dentists. Dental offices have been collectively identified as the major source of mercury pollution in municipal wastewater, and they’re not buying the excuse that amalgam is stable and doesn’t break down. Regulatory action is in place in many jurisdictions requiring dental offices to install mercury separators on their waste water lines. The IAOMT has examined the environmental impact of dental mercury since 1984 and continues to do so now.
Clinical Nutrition and Heavy Metal Detoxification for Biological Dentistry
Nutritional status impacts all aspects of a patient’s ability to heal. Biological detoxification depends heavily on nutritional support, as does periodontal therapy or any wound healing. While the IAOMT does not advocate that dentists necessarily become nutritional therapists themselves, an appreciation of the impact of nutrition on all phases of dentistry is essential to biological dentistry. Thus, all members should be familiar with the methods and challenges of reducing systemic toxicity deriving from mercury exposure.
Biocompatibility and Oral Galvanism
In addition to using dental materials that are less overtly toxic, we can raise the biocompatibility quotient of our practice by recognizing the fact that individuals vary in their bio