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Healthy Living

Alternative Therapies Heal Dental Patients

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Miserable Molars Linked to Chronic Abdominal Pain

The next time your dentist heals a sore molar, you may find that your back or abdominal pain also is alleviated. Thanks to the emerging practice of alternative therapies in dental settings, some dentists are applying knowledge based on acupuncture points to help their patients identify and correct a myriad of health problems.

Acupuncture Lines Link Teeth to Internal Organs

Many dentists and patients are unaware there may be a connection between teeth and other organs in the body. Very often, patients having trouble with a particular tooth signals an ailment with the corresponding internal organ (see attached map of acupuncture points). To help dentists better understand and integrate this topic and homeopathy -- a practice involving the use of stimulation to help the body cure itself - into their practices, David J. Shuch, DDS led a discussion titled "Alternative Therapies in Dentistry and the Future of Private Practice Care" during the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) 49th Annual Meeting in New York City, August 2 - 5, 2001.

"Alternative therapies are new to the dental profession, but in general, patients of dentists who use homeopathy experience less physical and emotional discomfort and heal faster," said Dr. Shuch.

Dr. Shuch noted two patient examples of how holistic dental care fueled the healing process:

A patient treats his 15-year history of stomach ulcers with daily doses of a well-known drug known to reduce gastric acid. Upon removing an infected lower premolar (which is linked to the stomach) the patient's ulcers and symptoms associated with the ulcers disappeared.

For years, a patient suffered from chronic internal pain near his navel. Internal specialists were unable to diagnose the problem. Upon removing two infected lower left molars (which are linked to the small intestine), his lower abdominal pain disappeared.

Other Alternative Therapies Used in Dental Offices

Americans are increasingly turning to complementary and alternative therapies as part of their overall health care, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Latest figures reveal that the percentage of people using alternative therapies rose 11 percent over a seven-year span. Dentists also are beginning to offer complementary therapies to help make their patients' next visit to the dentist's chair a little easier, such as:

  • Using needleless acupuncture (called Nei Guan) to eliminate gagging, which is especially good for patients with a sensitive gag reflex;

  • Applying foot reflexology techniques to help relieve anxiety among patients and promote healing; and

  • Incorporating exercise and nutritional supplementation to help chronic periodontal disease sufferers heal quicker.

Dentists are incorporating the use of vitamin and herbal topical remedies into treatments. Two notable supplements, Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin C, are being used to speed the oral healing process because both speed up collagen synthesis, a process that quickens regeneration of gum tissue and helps treat gum disease. Vitamin C also is being used in powder form to brush teeth because it is known to combat gum problems.

"There are far more connections between oral health and other physical ailments than are recognized," said Dr. Shuch. "With some educating, I believe more dentists will incorporate alternative therapies into their practice so that the endpoint is not just healing of a particular condition, but rather of overall enhanced health."

The Academy of General Dentistry is a non-profit organization of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients oral health needs.

Need a dentist? The Academy's Web site provides a listing of members nationwide. The Academy also sponsors a year-round, toll-free service to help consumers find a general dentist in their area. Callers to 1-877-2X-A-YEAR (1-877-292-9327) can get names, addresses and phone numbers for up to three general dentists 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the United States and Canada.

Copyright © 2001 Academy of General Dentistry - Used with permission
Copyright © 1998-2002 SLM & Healthy Living
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