I had other issues. I was always the difficult patient. The one that would argue the necessity of full mouth x-rays, of fluoride treatments and why that filling has to be amalgam. This is what kept me from going to the dentist for the past 2 years. I just didn't want to be that freak. I didn't want to argue. I didn't have to convince people of what I know and I didn't want to have to fight for my right to refuse a service.
Make no mistake. I do not judge people who are happy with conventional dental care. We all need to come to our own conclusions and we all need to pick and choose our battles. So if this is not one that concerns you, fine. But I'm writing this because I'm bothered by what's out there.
I finally found a dentist I'm happy with thanks to my friend Amanda (who has a blog herself). He hasn't used mercury containing amalgam fillings in his practice since the early 80's, doesn't use fluoride routinely and only wants an x-ray if there is a question. So let's discuss why I care about these things:
Topical fluoride treatments - not the stuff added to your water but rather the fluoride applied to your teeth and contained in your tooth paste. The idea is that fluoride strengthens your enamel. But did you know that it will also make it more brittle? Dr. Stephen Koral in Boulder says "I do not use fluoride treatments in my office. Fluoride is a prescription drug and should not be used routinely. I have, however, on occasion prescribed it for specific cases." A prescription drug indeed - with those obligatory side effects. So why are we using it like it's baking soda?
Amalgams - contain mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal unsafe at any level. And as far as I'm concerned, that's all I need to know. Why am I deemed crazy for not wanting someone to put that in my mouth on purpose and permanently? Especially if there is an alternative. So yes, my insurance only will cover amalgams on non-front teeth and it makes me mad but what are you going to do? And by the way, why is it that the insurance company covers white filling for aesthetic purposes but not for health? Here is a little science on the matter of dental amalgams:
Do not run to your corner dentist to get your amalgam fillings replaced, however. There can be a heavy toxic load associated with their removal. Please research the topic thoroughly and only go to a dentist that is aware of the risks and is willing to take precautions.
X-rays - Radiation exposure causes cancer - this is a fact. Radiation exposure is cumulative over a person's lifetime- another fact. So no matter how badly the dental assistant wants to convince me that it is a "tiny amount of radiation", it is not going to be good enough for me to routinely irradiate my head. And yes, I do realize that digital x-rays come with less radiation exposure than old school films. My favorite is when they start saying things like: "It's only a portion of the radiation you will get just living at a high altitude". Right. But I already live at a high altitude which already comes with extra radiation. Do I need to add to that even more, year over year, every time I get a dental exam? As I said: cumulative. Dr. Koral says: "A dental exam will give us a roughly 50% idea of what is going on. An x-ray will increase those chances to about 75% in my experience". As with everything, I evaluate risks to benefits. Is that 25% worth adding to the radiation burden which I will acquire during my lifetime?
So there it is... I can scratch this one off my list. If you find a dentist you like who is more in line with natural living principles, please feel free to post their information here.