Allergies and the Dentist’s Office
Allergies Can Start in the Dentist’s Chair
There has been quite a bit of attention paid to the various metals or amalgams used in dentistry pertaining to the toxic effects that they can have on the body. In addition to metals used in fillings and bridges, it is important to be aware that dentists also use a wide assortment of cements, anesthetics, bonding materials, temporary appliances, denture materials and more – and every one of these substances can potentially cause a negative reaction once placed in the sensitive environment of the mouth.
Fortunately for our patients, holistic dentists are well aware of the potential for compatibility issues with the materials we use in our practices, and therefore we work hard to make sure that our patients are able to tolerate any substance that we might introduce into the mouth. Unfortunately many people don’t realize that the substances and materials mainstream dentists use, but do not test for compatibility, may be causing some serious health issues in their patients. Many problems can start out as something as innocuous as an allergic reaction at the time of placement. To compound the problem, there is much evidence pointing to a correlation between allergies and autoimmune disorders. In other words, if the source of the allergy is not pinpointed and removed, then potentially the resulting reaction could manifest itself as an autoimmune disorder.
So, whether you are considering having some dental work done now, of if you have serious and persistent health issues and suspect a correlation to previous dental procedures – understanding how an allergic reaction can instigate larger health issues will help you decide how to proceed.
An allergic reaction is best described as an overreaction of the body’s immune system which usually springs up in response to something relatively harmless known as an ‘allergen’. Allergies are caused by the activation of an antibody in the blood called immunoglobulin E. Allergens we are most familiar with include pollens, grasses, bee venom, medications and certain foods such as peanuts and eggs. Common symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes or rashes and sometimes people have difficulty breathing. Although reactions are usually mild, occasionally they can be severe, or even fatal.
In the dental industry, allergies to various materials aren’t the only issue causing concern; patients have long been known to have adverse reactions to gold and ‘silver’ amalgam fillings – reactions that can last a lifetime if not treated. Dental material allergies and amalgam allergies can both present anywhere from a few hours to a few days after exposure to the material and symptoms can include swollen lips, oral, head and neck rashes and sometimes lesions in the mouth. Although these symptoms may appear to clear up on their own without medical intervention after just a few days, the body may well continue to fight what it considers to be a foreign agent, releasing a torrent of antibodies into the bloodstream over a long period of time. As a result one must be wary that the potential of long term exposure could cause a cascade effect impacting the immune system in very unhealthy ways.
How Allergies Lead to More Serious Problems
Between 15 and 25 million Americans are reportedly affected every year by one autoimmune disorder or another – and as of yet, no medical authority is pointing the finger at any particular culprit. At the same time allergists suspect that defects in the immune system and hypersensitivity often begin with something as seemingly benign as an allergic reaction. When you consider that the word “autoimmune” means self-immune and it is characterized by the immune system turning on itself in attack in a state of hyperactivity of the immune system then you can begin to see the similarities between autoimmune disorders and allergies, and doctors are beginning to realize that allergies are quite often a precursor to autoimmune disease.
Many health problems are recognized to be related to mercury (and other metals) used in ‘silver’ fillings, and its longtime impact on the body is suspected to be instrumental in autoimmune diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Psoriasis, and Scleroderma. Other autoimmune disorders that we are hearing more and more about include; Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and others. With this alarming rise in autoimmune diseases, it makes sense for us to take whatever steps we can to ensure that our patients are biocompatible before allowing any substance or material to be permanently affixed into the mouth.
Be Safe from the Get-go
The unique thing about putting a potentially incompatible dental material in the mouth is that it presents a 24-hour a day exposure that you simply cannot get away from. Unfortunately there isn’t any one set of materials that are compatible for every person since every patient is different and presents a unique physiology. However, there are some materials that are recognized to be better tolerated by more people than other materials. People with weak immune systems have an even greater difficulty finding substances that can be tolerated but fortunately there are ways to test everyone for compatibility. The most common types of tests used by holistic dental offices include:
- Clifford Materials Blood Test
The blood test will offer results that are based on true allergens. Specifically the Clifford Materials Test is a blood test that will determine if a blood serum sample will react to known dental materials. Although this test can provide valuable information about existing allergies, results may not be as comprehensive when it comes to testing for materials the patient has not yet been exposed to.
- Electro-dermal Screening (EAV)
Electro-dermal screening is performed by using a machine that tests dental materials according to their compatibility with the patient’s acupuncture meridian system. This test will allow us to determine more than just what materials are compatible, but which materials appear to be optimal for a particular patient. As with muscle testing, we can determine reactions to substances and elements the patient has never previously been exposed to.
- Applied Kinesiology
Applied kinesiology is based upon the activity of muscles and the relationship of muscle strength to health. This test is based on bio-feedback and will give strictly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Using applied kinesiology we are able to test both commonly used items and items that a person has never been exposed to, and by using the body’s biofeedback abilities, identify those items that weaken the individual.
Allergy Testing – An Important Part of the Whole
As natural dentists, our goal is to treat the whole person through the use of safe, natural and painless methods. Our innovative approach to dental care focuses on the health and wellness of the mouth in relation to the whole body, including identifying and treating issues pertaining to allergies and autoimmune disorders. In addition to providing allergy testing, we are able to recommend a variety of natural and herbal products that can help support the immune system – helping to bring our patients to a greater state of overall wellness.