Dental Disease
and its origins


Dental disease is the result of one or more of the four dental stressors.

The Four Dental Stressors are:

Microbial Stress – the various infective microorganisms, which can attack both hard and soft tissues of the mouth, cause dental caries , gingivitis and periodontal diseases. These are the diseases most commonly associated with dental treatment, and are still the major concern in most Dental Practices today.

Dental Caries, or tooth decay, is the result of a combination of less than ideal oral hygiene and inappropriate diet. Caries has traditionally been treated with fillings, or, in extreme cases, extraction. Gingivitis and periodontal diseases have similar origin to Caries, and have been treated with professional cleaning, minor surgical procedures and instruction in correct oral hygiene. These conditions and their treatment are discussed in detail elsewhere – enter through their links.

Biochemical Stress – may be caused by the dental materials used in restoring and maintaining the teeth, gums and cranio-mandibular system, as well as the nutrients involved in the formation and maintenance of those tissues, and other substances which pass through or are held within the mouth – nicotine and tars, other drugs and medications, and foods. Some of the filling materials used to treat dental caries may be toxic to some people, so care must be taken in choosing the correct materials for each individual.

There is ongoing debate about the toxicity of mercury-based filling materials (amalgam), which have been the filling material of choice for over one hundred years. There is no doubt that mercury leaks out of amalgam and that we ingest it. The discussion is over how much is absorbed into the body, and what effect it has. Although mercury is known to be extremely toxic, there are many dentists, and dental associations (including the Australian Dental Association) who believe that the leakage of mercury from amalgam is harmless.

The decision of Integrated Dentistry is to not take such a risk with this material, and to use other proven materials in its place. Other materials and chemicals used in the maintenance of the teeth and gums are also carefully selected for their biocompatibility (their proven compatibility with healthy living tissue). Tests through
a pathology laboratory can also be performed to test an individual’s sensitivity to specific dental materials, to ensure that only safe materials are used for the particular individual.

Advice is available on the appropriate diet to minimise dental disease, as well as to help strengthen and support other tissues that may have been weakened or traumatised in relation to the various dental stresses. The use of recreational drugs is not advised, and individuals are made aware of, and cautioned about, the interactions between prescribed drugs, recreational drugs and nutrients.

Biomechanical Stress – the way the teeth fit together (the dental occlusion) affects the position of the Temporo-Mandibular Joints (TMJs or jaw joints), the reflex control of all muscles of mastication (head and neck muscles used in chewing), as well as the muscles of the neck involved in head posture, and may contribute to headaches and neck aches as well as spinal distortions in the neck.

Many of the cervical subluxations (distortions in the neck vertebrae) dealt with by chiropractors may have their origins in a dental malocclusion, and result in a descending pattern producing a pelvic instability – all generated from the teeth!

Many patients present with TMJ disturbances also called TMDs, which have a wide range of symptoms and signs including headaches, neck ache, shoulder pain, TMJ pain, TMJ noises, worn teeth, cracked or broken teeth, loose teeth, distorted swallowing habits and the habit of holding something between the teeth (tongue, thumb or fingers, pencils and other objects). After the proper diagnosis, the treatment options range from simple exercises, to bite adjustment, to orthodontic treatment with braces and, on very rare occasions, jaw surgery.

Electromyographic studies show direct relationships between jaw posture and spinal posture. For this reason it is advisable to have a spinal examination prior to any form of TMJ, bite or orthodontic treatment. Usually, the posture is treated in conjunction with the TMJ treatment. The most advanced and dedicated modern chiropractors now acknowledge that it is pointless to expect a stable long-term result from their adjustments without simultaneously correcting the cranio-mandibular (jaw to head) relationships.

Emotional Stress – the appearance of one’s teeth can have a dramatic effect on one’s self-esteem. An individual’s perception of “self” has an effect on the way they relate to other people and events throughout their lives. The development of high self-esteem will contribute to success in all endeavours in life, and this can be affected significantly by the appearance of one’s teeth.

Cosmetic dentistry is an important part of modern dental practice, and important to one’s emotional and psychological health. Cosmetic dentistry involves a variety of treatment techniques including the use of tooth coloured restorative materials such as composite resins and porcelain, periodontal surgery to correct distorted gum margins and orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth.

Dental insurance companies do not consider cosmetic dentistry to be important to health, so they will cover little or none of this treatment. Their primary goal is to gain profits for their shareholders, where that of Integrated Dentistry is to provide the patients with the optimum in all aspects (biochemical, biomechanical and emotional) of dental health.