Holistic dentists can help if you're feeling nervous about visiting.

What to Do If You’re Nervous About Visiting the Dentist

It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous about an upcoming dentist appointment or procedure. However, anxiety can make your experience incredibly stressful. Fortunately, there are several ways we can help you relieve stress and make your visit as smooth as possible. From sedation dentistry to other tactics for natural stress relief, here’s how you can handle dental anxiety.

Ready to schedule a stress-free appointment? Call us today.

Addressing Dental Anxiety Is Important

Some people may feel little to no nervousness going into a dentist visit. Others may have difficulty even preparing for regular check-ups. Fear of pain or loss of control, a bad experience at the dentist as a child, and feeling self-conscious or embarrassed can all lead to dental anxiety. These feelings may even cause you to push back preventive care or the treatment you need to maintain a healthy mouth.

However, avoiding routine appointments can have severe effects on your oral health:

  • Tooth Decay: An important part of a dental cleaning is removing plaque from the teeth to prevent tooth decay. Missing dental appointments allows tartar and gingivitis to build up, creating even more significant problems, such as cavities, down the road. Severe decay can also lead to a root canal infection, which may require extraction.
  • Gum Disease: Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup along the gumline. When left undetected, the infection can damage gum tissues and surrounding structures of the mouth. With time, this can cause deterioration of the jawbone and widespread tooth loss.
  • Bad Breath and Yellow Teeth: Routine dental appointments help keep your whole mouth healthy. Stains can settle on your teeth due to your diet or bad dental habits, but a deep cleaning from a hygienist can help remove surface stains before they settle into the tooth.
  • Oral Cancer: The main way oral cancer is detected is during a routine dental appointment. During the examination phase, the dentist looks for any abnormalities, such as abscess or discolored patch, and can take tissue samples to catch any cancer early on.

How Sedation Dentistry Can Help

When anxiety gets in the way of your dental care, start a conversation with your holistic dentist about sedation dentistry. When performed by a trained professional, like our certified registered nurse anesthetist, sedation dentistry is safe and a suitable method for improving your dental care experience. This service can certainly be offered for dental surgeries and more invasive procedures. However, we can also use it for regular appointments and exams if necessary.

There are different levels of sedation that have varying effects. Local sedation is used to numb a particular area of the mouth and does not affect your consciousness during the procedure. For this type of sedation, medication is administered directly to the area that needs to be numbed.  Some options can help keep you calm and relaxed while still allowing you to stay awake.

General anesthesia causes you to lose consciousness for the entirety of the procedure. Our CRNA will insert a small IV needle to administer medication. The effects are almost immediate, calming your body and preventing pain. We’ll monitor your vitals, including your breathing, oxygen, heart rate, and blood pressure, the entire time.

Other Natural Stress Relief Options

There are several other all-natural options for stress relief that can help you ease nervousness:

  • Practice deep breathing and meditation
  • Consider taking natural stress-relief supplements and essential oils
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and sugary foods
  • Listen to calming music prior to and during the appointment
  • Do some light exercise before the appointment to help clear your mind

Most importantly, make sure to discuss your dental anxiety with your dentist. It completely normal for you to feel nervous about your appointment, and we are here to ease the process for you!

Ready to take the first step? Contact our office today.

Holistic dentist provides orthodontic treatment for child

Can Holistic Dentists Provide Orthodontic Treatments?

Many people dream of having a straight, picture-perfect smile. That’s why more than 4 million Americans choose to wear braces to straighten their teeth, with children being the most common orthodontics patient. Crooked teeth affect more than just your appearance. From your bite to your sleep quality at night, straightening your teeth has a positive overall effect on your health.

Seeing a holistic dentist to pursue orthodontic treatment can be a great option if you want an integrative solution that looks at your health, or your child’s health, as a whole. Curious how a holistic dentist can help with straighter teeth? Here are several integrative orthodontic alternatives to conventional braces to explore.

Want to learn how we can help? Schedule an appointment today.

What is a holistic dentist?

The key difference between a holistic dentist, also referred to as an integrative dentist, and a traditional dentist is that holistic dentists take an integrative approach to oral health care. A conventional dental professional, on the other hand, often focuses only on a patient’s dental health.

A holistic dentist considers the body a whole when recommending treatments and can discuss how nutrition, sleep, mental health, and other lifestyle factors are connected to common dental issues. Because of this, an integrative dentist can address a wide range of issues, including treatment for sleep apnea.

These dental professionals also avoid toxic chemicals, such as mercury, when administering treatments and exercise extreme caution when addressing root canal treatment or applying fillings. However, a holistic dentist can perform all the same procedures that a conventional dentist can provide, which includes surgery if that is the best course of action to meet your needs.

How can a holistic dentist help straighten teeth?

When it comes to orthodontics, a holistic dentist can offer several treatments that use less metal while effectively straightening and aligning the teeth. Many of these solutions look beyond just guiding the jaw and teeth into a more ideal position and address how a person’s tongue position, muscle composition, and swallowing methods all affect his or her bite.

Healthy Start®

Designed for children of various ages, Healthy Start® can help children achieve proper jaw alignment and straighter teeth at night while also addressing early sleep apnea. This treatment uses a rubber retainer worn during sleep. The Healthy Start® system utilizes various appliance types can protect the child’s mouth from certain harmful sleep habits, such as teeth grinding, and adjust the jaw to better accommodate emerging adult teeth.

For children with signs of Sleep Disordered Breathing, the retainer can help by keeping their airways open and moving their jaw forward to allow for proper airflow while asleep. Many children and parents notice drastic changes in their children’s sleep patterns and daytime behavior, including improvements to the following symptoms:

  • Daytime drowsiness and irritability
  • Bed wetting
  • ADHD and other attention disorders
  • Night terrors and mid-night awakenings
  • Asthmas and allergies
  • Snoring and gasping while asleep

Advanced Light Force Therapy

The Advanced Light Force therapy is primarily used for children, especially those under the age of 12. It is a good alternative for patients that need more than a mandibular advancement device to treat their sleep apnea.

ALF uses a wire appliance to straighten the teeth and align the jaw while also addressing the alignment of a child’s facial, cranial, and spinal bones with the use of light force. A holistic dentist can use this treatment to help children achieve more ideal tongue placement.

In additional to the cosmetic benefit of straightening children’s teeth, ALF can help address a variety of issues, including sleep apnea, speech impediments, TMJ disorders, issues with nervous system regulation, poor spinal alignment, and mandible underdevelopment.

If you want to explore healthy, integrative treatments for straightening teeth and achieving overall better health for you or your child, the best place to start is with a holistic dentist. From getting better sleep at night to having a smile you can be proud of, Dr. Mandanas in Anchorage, Alaska can discuss healthy treatment options that go beyond conventional orthodontics.

Ready to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of? Contact us today!

Holistic dentistry is perfect for families.

Holistic Dentists: Why We Do What We Do

The slogan on the homepage of our website says: “Where Healthy Living, Healthy Breathing, Healthy Sleeping, and Dentistry Meet.” Mandanas Dental was founded by Dr. Owen Mandanas, who practiced as a general dentist for 17 years before looking for a better approach. The sentence on our website sums it up perfectly.

Dentistry is about so much more than teeth – your oral health can impact every aspect of your well-being, which is why it’s important to treat each patient holistically.

Need an appointment? Click here to contact our team.

What is holistic dentistry?

That’s what holistic dentistry means, by the way. It’s a philosophy that acknowledges the impact the mouth has on whole-body health. The mouth affects the way we ingest food and drink, which is the fuel we need to survive and function at our best. It also affects the way we breathe, which brings our cells the oxygen they need to function. The mouth is also intrinsically linked to the quality of our sleep, because anatomical issues can cause serious problems like sleep apnea.

Holistic dentists are fully-qualified dentists. We can perform all the same check-ups and procedures as regular dentists, such as general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, dental implants, orthodontics, and even sedation dentistry (you can view our services page to learn more).

However, they take it a step further than just improving your smile and filling your cavities. For Dr. Mandanas, it began by successfully helping people correct sleep disorders with dental appliances. It started a journey of further education that means she now sees herself as being part of a patient’s health care team instead of just stepping in and out as their tooth doctor.

Through this lens, holistic dentists can also advise you on the link between oral health and things such as gut health, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain or weight loss, and more.

Finding a holistic dentist in Anchorage

Dr. Mandanas was born in the Philippines but grew up in South Carolina. She completed her undergraduate education in English at Goucher College in Maryland before going to study dentistry at Northwestern University in Illinois. She has two decades of experience and is a self-described “dental geek,” who still love studying her craft. When she moved to Alaska, she spent time serving the Native Alaska community in Nome, before settling in Anchorage with her husband and two sons.

She’s affiliated with a number of key organizations, such as the American Academic of Dental Sleep Medicine, Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorder Disciplines, American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry, and International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. She’s also a member of the Holistic Dental Association, American Dental Association, and Alaska Dental Society.

Her main interest is in sleep breathing disorders and she loves studying craniofacial anatomy. In other words, she’s the person to see if you’re having trouble with things like snoring, difficulty breathing at night, and sleep apnea. She’ll talk to you about your symptoms, figure out exactly why you’re experiencing them, and discuss a range of treatment options with you.

What is the future for holistic dentistry?

Holistic dentistry is constantly evolving. Like Dr. Mandanas, most practitioners are – well, we already know they’re geeks – and they’re always combing through new research to find better ways of doing things. Here at Mandanas Dental, the team is committed to having an open mind and considering natural, evidence-based approaches to oral health as well as traditional methods. That way, we can be sure to find the best option to suit each patient, based on their personal circumstances.

Holistic dentistry is known by a lot of names, including integrative dentistry, progressive dentistry, and biocompatible dentistry. It’s an evolution in dental practice that will help you achieve optimal health through a personalized treatment plan that favors natural treatments where possible. We believe it leads to the best possible patient outcomes – and as such, it’s the future of dentistry.

Ready to try holistic dentistry for yourself? Schedule an appointment today

Holistic denstistry can help with sleep apnea

Can Holistic Dentistry Cure Sleep Apnea?

What’s one thing that can ruin your relationship and your health at the same time? The not-so-silent mood-ruiner, sleep apnea (surprise! It’s not bad reality TV). Around 22 million Americans are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, which is a serious condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. The good news is there are many ways you can treat it naturally, while regaining your wellbeing and allowing your loved one to get the rest they deserve after a long day at work. Read on to learn more.

Worried about sleep apnea? Contact us to find a solution.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing halts during sleep because the tongue or throat muscles are blocking the airways. It usually skates away by being labeled as loud snoring or trouble sleeping. This is because sometimes unknowingly, a person will wake up due to the panic response that the brain triggers from the lack of oxygen. The health implications caused by sleep apnea can be very serious, leading to long-term issues.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea could very easily slip on by, masked as either a bad night’s sleep or as a general feeling of being unwell or slightly under the weather. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 symptoms to look out for so you can combat early signs of sleep apnea:

  1. Daytime sleepiness
  2. Snoring
  3. Suddenly waking up by gasping or choking
  4. Dry mouth or throat
  5. Headaches in the morning
  6. Lack of focus/forgetfulness during the day
  7. Depression, irritability, or mood swings
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Insomnia
  10. Night-time sweating

Why is sleep apnea so serious?

Sleep apnea is more than just snoring or hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning. This is something that has real long-term effects if not addressed. These are some of the high-risk dangers to look out for:

Heart disease: Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure but 140% and the risk of stroke by 60%, according to the Comprehensive Sleep Care Center.

High blood pressure: When the airways are blocked due to sleep apnea, stress hormones are released which leads to an increase in blood pressure. Over a long course of time, this can make high blood pressure a risk factor. 

Stroke: People who suffer from sleep apnea have a higher chance of having a stroke due to common high blood pressure. Strokes are also much more difficult to recover from sleep apnea.

Cognitive impairment: Sleep apnea causes a lack of oxygen that can impair the brain and cause many issues such as memory, learning, functionality, dementia, and delayed attention, over time.

How can you cure sleep apnea naturally?

Finding help for sleep apnea from the right doctor is always a good solution. Depending on your lifestyle and situation, you could also benefit from natural solutions to sleep apnea. Here are some of the ways you can naturally combat sleep apnea.

See a holistic dentist: A holistic dentist will provide a range of treatment options that may be able to help you catch the extra sleep you need. Keep reading, because we’ll dive into this in a moment.

Manage your weight: Having extra weight around your neck can be a big factor in sleep apnea symptoms, especially snoring. Even losing 10% of body weight could effectively help sleep apnea symptoms.

Exercise regularly: Being active regularly can help strengthen your heart, energy levels, and sleep. Yoga has also been known to help because it increases oxygen levels.

Alter your sleep position: In more than half of all sleep apnea cases, the condition arises because of sleeping position, according to a 2006 hospital study. Sleeping on your back or with your head propped up can be especially helpful because it opens the airways. 

Use a humidifier: A humidifier adds more moisture to the air, which can help congested airways and make breathing easier. 

Use oral appliances: A CPAP machine is a mask you use when you sleep that increases air pressure in your throat so the airways can’t close and suffocate you. A sleep apnea mouthguard has a strap that pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open. Both options lead to a better night’s sleep which can reduce many of the harmful symptoms.

Why you should see a holistic dentist first

Seeing an integrative or holistic dentist for sleep apnea can make all the difference for you. Unlike regular dentists who only focus on oral health, Integrative dentistry looks at the big picture. They are founded on the belief that oral health and the health of your entire body are tied together.

When you see a dentist who practices holistic dentistry for sleep apnea, they will look for the causes of sleep apnea, not just the obvious symptoms. Their focus is much more on how your sleep apnea is affecting the health of your entire body, not just your loss of sleep. They target root problems that may go unnoticed such as poor jaw or tongue alignment, mental stimulation, or breathing problems.

Seeing a holistic dentist like Dr. Mandanas can help you assess your sleep apnea and find solutions that would best first your lifestyle, naturally. If you (or your loved one) are suffering from sleep apnea, there is still hope to get a good night’s sleep. We will work with you to find a solution.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today!

Link between oral health and gut health

Your Diet Can Have a Big Impact on Your Teeth

Our bodies are amazing, in that when we are well, every part works together in perfect harmony. This is the foundation of holistic dentistry, because it’s about much more than just fixing your teeth. It takes the view that your mouth, as the gateway by which food enters your body, can have an impact on things like gut health and mental health as well as your oral health.

Diet is really important, because good nutrition gives our bodies the fuel it needs to operate at its best. In a perfect world, our mouths and bodies should be at a neutral pH, but it’s very common for modern diets (which typically include a lot of sugar) to cause a bacterial imbalance of the mouth microbiome. In addition to causing things like weight gain, and mood swings that come with sugar-induced highs and lows, it can also cause erosion of the teeth.

Want to learn more about protecting your teeth through nutrition? Schedule an appointment!

Link between oral health and gut health

The gut microbiome can influence things like mood, weight, and your general sense of health and wellbeing. The oral microbiome is very closely linked, because every time you swallow, you’re sending thousands of good bacteria from your mouth to your digestive system.

These bacteria are essential to your oral health, because they can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. However, they’re also really important when it comes to gut health, because good bacteria in your mouth can stop bad bacteria from making its way to your stomach. This can prevent things like inflammation and even some diseases! The same works in reverse – bad bacteria in your mouth can trigger an immune response when it reaches your gut, which can cause things like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and endocarditis.

Good oral hygiene, which includes regular brushing and flossing, goes a long way to removing bad bacteria. However, the best way to protect the link between your oral health and your gut health is with a good diet. This means keeping sugar to a minimum, eating whole foods, ensuring you have plenty of dietary fiber, and chewing properly every time you have a meal.

Oral health can also affect mental health

The most obvious way that oral health can affect mental health is through pain. Things like tooth erosion, cavities, and periodontitis can be extremely uncomfortable if left untreated, and studies show that this can lead to things like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

A comprehensive health survey of more than 10,000 people aged 20-75 living in the United States found that poor dental health increased the likelihood that a person would experience depression. Researchers found the more dental conditions a person had, the more severe their symptoms.

Just like gut health, the link between oral health and mental health is a two-way street. There is evidence to suggest that people who experience mental illness often suffer poor oral health – for example, if people experience dental anxiety, they may stop seeing their dentist regularly, which means the next time they visit they may have to get considerably more work done.

Again, diet can play a big part here. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, says: “A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health… A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”

Future research into oral health links

The link between oral health, gut health, and mental health is already clear, and we know diet is key. However, there are still many things scientists don’t know, which makes this an exciting area.

For example, poor dental health is a known source of inflammation, but the link between dental health, inflammation, and mental health has not been researched extensively. More research is also required to explain exactly why multiple dental conditions increase the severity of depression.

The best way to optimize your oral health, and the impact it has on your gut health and mental health is to schedule an appointment with a holistic dentist. They look at all these issues together, instead of in isolation, and will be able to advise you about the best way forward. They will talk to you about essential hygiene, such as brushing and flossing, as well as advising you the ways your diet can improve your oral health, gut health, and mental health.

Ready to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas? Call our team!

Does tongue position affect breathing?

Does Tongue Position Affect Breathing?

Do you most often breathe through your mouth? Do you suffer from sleep apnea? It’s possible that your tongue may be improperly positioned. The tongue is a strong muscle, and it has the power to shape the mouth over time, which means tongue position can seriously affect breathing.

During sleep, for example, your tongue relaxes and falls back. If it’s larger than usual, or set higher than normal, it can fully or partially block your airway. This means you’ll struggle to breathe when you’re asleep, diminishing the quality of your rest and causing a range of other oral health issues.

When we visit the dentist, most of us expect to talk about things related to teeth, like brushing, flossing, fillings, and braces. However, dentists specialize in everything going on inside your mouth, which includes your gums, cheeks, tongue, and much more. Holistic dentists take it a step further, because they view the mouth as being the gateway to your overall health and wellbeing.

When they are conducting an examination, they’ll ask questions about a range of lifestyle factors – including breathing and sleep – to ensure they can diagnose you correctly and recommend a course of treatment that will treat not just the symptoms of an issue, but the underlying cause as well.

Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas.

Is my tongue in the right position?

Everyone’s mouth is a different shape, but generally speaking, your tongue should lie flat against the roof of your mouth and the tip should touch the back of your front teeth. It should remain this way whether you’re awake or asleep, however, there are lots of factors that can cause this to change.

If your jaw isn’t correctly aligned, for example, or you have issues with crowding, there may not be enough room for your tongue to sit in the right spot. In addition to restricting breathing, this can also affect things like speaking, eating, and sleeping, which can be very detrimental to your wellbeing.

Can I retrain my tongue?

The good news is most people can quickly correct tongue positioning issues with exercises. Your dentists may prescribe these in order to retrain your tongue, and teach it how to sit properly. They may also refer you to a speech therapist, which is someone who specializes in oral skills.

If your tongue position is cause by retrognathia, a condition in which the lower jaw is pulled back, pushing the tongue backwards as well, your dentist may also prescribe a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is a very effective device that prevents the lower jaw from slipping back during sleep, which can help keep the tongue out of the way so your airways remain clear all night long.

Why do holistic dentists look at tongues?

Holistic dentistry is about considering all the different factors at play and working naturally with the body to find a solution that optimizes your overall health and wellbeing. Holistic dentists also favor non-invasive treatments, which help your body adjust and repair itself as naturally as possible.

No part of the mouth operates in isolation. Correcting your tongue positioning isn’t just about stopping noisy snoring! It’s about helping you breathe easier, which will maximize the restfulness of your sleep, increase the amount of oxygen you inhale with every breath, and increase your energy levels. This can have a flow-on effect of improving your diet, generating the energy to exercise more, boosting your mood, and improving your mental health. Every part of the human body is interlinked.

How can I get help with a tongue positioning issue?

If anything we’ve mentioned in this blog post sounds familiar – for example, if you wake up every morning with a super dry mouth because you’ve breathed through it all night, you feel tired all the time, or you’ve been told you snore like a freight train – it’s best to raise the topic with your dentist.

Your dentist will be able to conduct a thorough examination at your next check-up, discuss any difficulties you’re experiencing, and let you know if they spot anything out of the ordinary. They’ll talk you through any issues and work with you to create a customized treatment plan that takes your specific needs into account so you can get back to breathing easily at night.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact our friendly team today!

Integrative dentistry

Integrative Dentistry is About So Much More Than Teeth

A dentist is a type of doctor who specializes in oral health, which extends to much more than just teeth and gums. The American Dental Association notes dentists also look after things like the muscles of the head and neck, the jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system. Their role includes diagnosing oral disease, administering anesthetics, performing surgical procedures, screening for oral cancers, and much more. It’s all designed to promote good oral health and long-term wellbeing.

Integrative dentists take it a step further, and considers the way oral health impacts the health of the whole body. This practice has a lot of different names: integrative dentistry, holistic dentistry, and biological dentistry are just a few. It’s based on the idea that the health of the mouth and the health of the body are intrinsically linked – for example, oral health has a significant impact on functions eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Oral health can also affect things like movement and mental health.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

Two ways integrative dentistry is practiced

Integrative dentists have all the same qualifications and training as regular dentists. In fact, most integrative dentists started as regular dentists and moved into a new direction when they started looking for better ways to practice dentistry, and become safer and more effective providers.

There are two main ways integrative dentistry is practiced.

The first is through the idea of the “mouth-body connection,” which is the understanding that the mouth and the body do not operate independently of each other. This means that rather than simply diving in and treating dental conditions, integrative dentists will ask their patients about other factors that may impact their health. This could include sleep, diet, exercise, and stress, for example. This helps the integrative dentists get a better picture of what’s going on in a person’s life to help create an individualized plan that will optimize their overall health and wellbeing.

The second way integrative dentistry is practiced is through the use of integrative methods. This takes all the great parts of conventional dentistry and blends them with alternative methods that are designed to deliver the best results possible. This will vary from dentist to dentist, depending on their own personal research and experience, as well as their interests. This could include things like low-dose x-rays and mercury-free fillings. The idea is to use safer, more natural materials, as much as possible.

Learn more about minimally-invasive options.

Conditions integrative dentistry can treat

Integrative dentists treat all the same things as regular dentists. This includes regular dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, dental implants, orthodontics, and all the normal things you’d expect. They can conduct clinical and radiographic examinations for hidden dental problems, inspect the mouth for cavities and any wear and tear, treat gingivitis and periodontal diseases, provide professional teeth cleaning, and treat dental emergencies such as broken teeth and severe toothaches.

However, they can do much more. Here at Mandanas Dental, for example, Dr. Mandanas has a special interest in sleep breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, which stems from her research into craniofacial anatomy and development. This means she can help if you’re snoring excessively at night, sleeping restlessly, or waking up tired.

Sleep apnea can cause a range of serious health issues, from chronic exhaustion to heart strain, diabetes, metabolic issues, liver problems, and even death. It’s commonly treated with CPAP machines, but it doesn’t have to be. As an integrative dentist, Dr. Mandanas uses non-invasive treatments that consider all the relevant health factors at play to work naturally with the body to find a solution rather than working against it. For example, she can help patients with things like alignment of the jaw, tongue positioning, mouth breathing, which can all affect sleep quality.

Read more about integrative sleep apnea treatments.

Integrative dentistry is a step toward whole-body health

Integrative dentistry is a great option for people who want to optimize their wellbeing. The goal is to help each patient live their healthiest, fullest life. Integrative dentists offer inviting, patient-focused environments, and deliver personalized dental care tailored to your health goals.

Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment today.

Can Mercury Fillings Cause Health Problems?

Can Mercury Fillings Cause Health Problems?

The most common type of dental filling is the mercury amalgam filling. It is made by mixing liquid mercury with a powdered of silver, copper, and tin. This creates a putty that is approximately 50% mercury, which rapidly hardens once it has been placed in the mouth. These fillings have been used for over 150 years and in millions of teeth all over the world, according to the FDA.

Some people have reported feeling health problems which they have associated with their fillings. If you are one of those people you may be wondering whether it really is your fillings, and whether you should have them removed. Read on to find out.

Is mercury toxic?

Elemental mercury is toxic. Dental amalgam fillings do release small amounts of mercury vapour which can be inhaled. Large doses of mercury can cause negative effects in the brain and kidneys.

However, the FDA has assessed the scientific evidence and reports that dental amalgam is safe to use on people over 6 years of age. It says that clinical studies have found no link between dental amalgam and health problems. The reason for the minimum age limit is that younger brains may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury.

Why is mercury used in dental fillings?

You may be wondering why a known toxic substance is used in our mouths at all, even if it probably isn’t a risk. Mercury amalgam has become the standard filling material because it is so strong and hardwearing. It’s also relatively easy to produce and is quite cheap.

What about bioaccumulation?

Bioaccumulation is the name given to the gradual build-up of a chemical in body tissues. This happens if you are taking in a chemical that your body can’t remove. Usually, molecules that aren’t useful to the body are removed as waste when you use the bathroom, but some chemicals can’t be removed in this way. Over many years even a small amount taken in can lead to a build-up. You may therefore be worried that the fillings you received when you were a teen have been leading to many years of bioaccumulation.

The FDA does say that studies haven’t shown any damage due to mercury build-up, and they point you to further reading, here.

Should I have my fillings removed?

The FDA recommends that fillings which are in good condition should be left in place, as the process of removing them can cause more mercury to be released. If you are concerned, however, and want to have your fillings removed, you should contact a SMART certified dentist. The SMART protocol stands for Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique and involves a sequence of safety measures a dentist must take to ensure that exposure to mercury is reduced during the process.

We’ve written in detail about the SMART protocol before. To give a brief summary, the protocol requires the use of air filtering equipment in the room, and a separator for the waste water. In addition, the patient is given a charcoal slurry to consume beforehand so that any consumed mercury is safely removed from the body, and everyone in the room must wear protective gowns to ensure that mercury doesn’t adhere to clothing.

Considering that the FDA doesn’t consider mercury amalgam dangerous, you may be wondering why the dentist removing them has to take such precautions. Think of the last time your dentist took an x-ray of your teeth. You probably weren’t given any protection, but the dentist left the room! This is because just the one dose you received isn’t that significant, but the dentist has to take many x-rays and over time that could become a problem. The same is true for your mercury fillings. While they’re in your mouth you aren’t exposed to that much mercury, but when the dentist is removing them, you are both exposed to higher levels, so precautions are taken.

If you want to have your mercury amalgam fillings removed, and you want to ensure that they are removed according to the SMART protocol, contact Dr. Mandanas today.

How sleep apnea is treated through holistic dentistry

How Sleep Apnea is Treated Through Holistic Dentistry

It is estimated that as many as 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. If you are among them, you’ve probably heard of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. Those who’ve experienced CPAP machines know how effective they are, but can also testify to the discomfort involved in using them. This discomfort leads to low adherence, which means that many people who need them don’t use them as often as they should. The other key trouble with CPAP machines is that while they alleviate the symptoms, they don’t treat the causes of sleep apnea.

So, how can a holistic dentist help?

A holistic (or integrative) dentist will look for causes of sleep apnea, not just the symptoms. Major causes of sleep apnea actually include poor alignment of the jaw, and of the tongue, which are all things your dentist can help treat. These conditions can include:

  • Retrognathia: Poor alignment of the jaw can often be seen when the lower jaw is pulled back. This can push the tongue and the pharyngeal tissue backwards, restricting the airway and causing sleep apnea.
  • High tongue: Dr. Mandanas also looks for a higher than average tongue level. During sleep, the tongue relaxes and falls back. If it is larger than usual or set higher, it could block the airway when it relaxes, causing you to struggle to breathe when you’re asleep.
  • Mouth breathing: This can be caused by either a bad habit, sometimes brought on by a persistent cold, or by a developmental issue such as a collapsed arch. Mouth breathing is sometimes a symptom of an underlying issue which is also causing sleep apnea. However, mouth breathing can also cause sleep apnea itself as well. The tonsillar tissue at the back of the throat is designed to catch and kill bacteria before they enter the lungs. Excessive use, caused by constant mouth breathing, can cause this tissue to swell and lead to sleep apnea. Nose breathing, on the other hand, has many benefits – for example, nose hairs filter bacteria before they enter the airway; nitric oxide gas in the nasal passage kills bad bacteria; nasal passages warm air before it enters the lungs.
  • Tongue positioning: The tongue is a strong muscle and over time it shapes the mouth. Improper positioning of the tongue can, therefore, lead to mouth breathing and sleep apnea as we age.

What treatments can a holistic dentist provide?

The treatment naturally depends on the cause of sleep apnea. For tongue issues, retraining exercises can help by teaching the tongue where to sit while not in use. However, if your sleep apnea is caused by retrognathia, Dr. Mandanas may prescribe a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This device prevents the lower jaw from slipping back during sleep.

Like the CPAP machine, a MAD is worn during sleep. However, unlike a CPAP machine, a MAD is much less restrictive, allowing the patient to roll over and sleep in their preferred position. As treatment progresses and the jaw learns to stay in the new position, the MAD is adjusted to gradually push the lower jaw forward. It’s a really effective treatment.

Dr. Mandanas is also studying Advanced Light Force (ALF) therapy for patients who need a more advanced treatment than mandibular advancement. The ALF device works by applying light pressure to the interior of the teeth and facial bones to adjust the cranial structure, enacting neurological as well as physical changes by using the natural forces of the body for advanced sleep apnea patients. It is able to be worn during the day and is almost invisible to others, making compliance so much easier and delivering great results!

What are my options?

When you visit Dr. Mandanas, she will assess the causes of your sleep apnea and recommend the best treatment plan for you. The integrative options discussed above are covered by most insurances, although that coverage does depend on the exact nature of your sleep apnea.

If you or a family member suffers from sleep apnea and you are interested in Dr. Mandanas’ approach as an integrative dentist, contact us during office hours to schedule an appointment! We look forward to seeing you.

Holistic Dentistry

What is Holistic Dentistry? We Answer Your FAQs

If you’re curious about holistic dentistry, you’re in the right place. Maybe you’ve come across the concept while researching local dentists on the internet; perhaps a friend or family member has recommended holistic dentistry. Either way, you’re looking to try something different.

Holistic dentists have the same credentials as regular dentists. In my case, I have a DDS, and I’ve been a general dentist for 17 years. Over time, I developed an interest in sleep breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. I’m passionate about craniofacial anatomy and development, which can be the source of many sleep issues in children and adults. The past few years have taken me professionally into a new direction of integrative dentistry. It is exciting and fun for me as I continue to grow and learn how to be a safer and more effective provider. Basically, I’m committed to having an open mind about natural approaches to oral health.

This is pretty common for holistic practitioners. Most of us practiced traditional dentistry for years before making the switch to our current models of practice. It’s really simple – the word “holistic” simply means “whole.” We look at the role dentistry plays in optimizing your overall health and wellbeing. That’s why we prioritize natural remedies and avoid harmful materials wherever possible. We will also typically ask more questions about other aspects of your health – for example, diet, sleep, mental health – than regular dentists.

However, we still do the things you’d expect in general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, dentures, implants, and more. This includes checking for things like cavities and gum disease, performing clinical and radiographic examinations, conducting preventative care for things like custom mouth guards, and taking care of all your needs for things like fillings and crowns. Remember, we’re fully-qualified dentists, so we’ll take care of your needs.

Keep reading, because we’ll answer a few more FAQs below.

Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment today.

What does a holistic dentist do?

Holistic dentists do all the same things as regular dentists, but as we said before, we focus on whole-body health. Because of that, our scope of work is slightly wider than regular dentists.

For example, we can help treat things like sleep apnea. We can provide non-invasive treatments that consider all the factors at play and work naturally with the body to find a solution. A major cause is poor alignment of the jaw and tongue, which can be corrected. Mouth breathing is another, which can be treated through referral to a physical or speech therapist. Tongue positioning is another frequent factor, which can also be improved. Talk to us about alternatives to CPAP machines.

The concept of mouth-body connection is also very important. We know the mouth doesn’t function in isolation from the rest of the body, so we ensure the connection between the mouth and the body is optimized. That’s why your holistic dentist may ask you about things like diet, lifestyle, and mental health, before recommending a treatment. We want to ensure it works for you.

How do holistic dentists treat root canals?

Root canals are one area where you’ll notice a significant difference. Holistic dentists address root canals with extreme caution and attention to detail, because we understand that 100% sterilization of the root canal is difficult to achieve. We also know that some sterilization chemicals are toxic, such as formaldehyde, which can be harmful. On top of that, we know that bacteria left in the canal can lead to diseases like breast cancer and heart disease. It’s a big decision to make.

Obviously, prevention is always better than a cure in cases like this. However, if the problem becomes serious enough to prompt a discussion about root canals, you might find your holistic dentists recommends something like total extraction of the tooth instead. The treatment will vary on a case-by-case basis, so if you have concerns around this, talk it through with your dentist.

What do holistic dentists use for fillings?

Holistic dentists avoid harmful materials, which means we favor alternatives to things like mercury amalgam silver fillings. Studies have shown that these fillings can have adverse effects on patient health, such as accumulation of bacteria around decaying fillings, sensitivity, weakening of the teeth, and more. We recommend replacing them with modern composite fillings.

If your amalgam fillings show signs of wear or decay, you’ve had issues with them in the past, you’re concerned about the level of mercury in your mouth, and you’re concerned about the aesthetics of silver fillings, please talk to us about modern alternatives. They’re a great alternative for small to medium restorations and may be the right option for you. Ask your dentist!

Concerned about mercury filling removal? Read more about this procedure.

Do holistic dentists take insurance?

Yes, holistic dentists take insurance. Remember, we’re fully-qualified dentists! However, some treatments we recommend may not be covered by insurance – it can vary from company to company. If you have any concerns, please discuss it with your insurance provider.

If you have no insurance, you may wish to consider joining our membership club. We take care of the preventative dental care of all our members with a monthly subscription, saving you money. Our adult membership is just $38/month (with a $50 lifetime activation fee), and it includes two professional dental cleanings per year, 1-2 doctor exams per year, necessary x-rays, one emergency exam per year, and $15% off all other treatments (although some exclusions may apply).

We value loyalty and we launched this program to simplify payments for preventative care. If you’d like to learn more about our membership club, please click here.

Best holistic dentist in Anchorage, Alaska

Here at Mandanas Dental, we understand that properly addressing the needs of our patients allows them to live healthier, fuller lives. Think about it: food is our fuel, and it enters our bodies through our mouths. We ensure your mouth is healthy so your body can function as it should.

We don’t overbook. Instead, we reserve your time exclusively, without interruptions. This means you get to spend the time you need with Dr. Mandanas. She will talk to you about your health goals before even taking an x-ray, and after completing a thorough examination, she’ll review her findings with you and develop a personalized plan to achieve the best results possible.

We’re committed to making your dental treatment comfortable, convenient and rewarding. That’s why Mandanas Dental is the best holistic dentist in Anchorage, Alaska.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today!