We have our favorite healers on speed dial, and look to our go-to naturopathic doctor whenever something feels a tad off in our bodies, why wouldn’t we look to a holistic dentist to take care of our teeth?
Wellness expert, best-selling author, and holistic dentist Dr. Nammy Patel is not only a pioneer in Green Dentistry, she is changing the way we think about our teeth. She believes that your mouth is a window to your body and that taking a deeper look at the overall health of your body is the key to maintaining optimal wellness.
Instilled with the values of conserving, recycling, and respecting the environment—and after putting herself through University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry—Dr. Patel turned down several, more “traditional” dentist positions to bring her vision to life. She imagined a practice that served her patients’ health in a more holistic yet environmentally conscious way.
The first practice of its kind, Green Dentistry was founded in San Francisco in 2005. Dr. Patel’s LEED-certified office is composed of recycled contents, boasts energy efficient lighting systems, and opts for glass cups in place of disposable ones.
Nécessité caught up with Dr. Nammy Patel to learn more about what inspired her to create a holistic dentist practice, how oral health is linked to bodily health, and the dental nécessités she cannot live without.
How did you decide where to start your practice?
I feel like San Francisco is my home. And being a holistic dentist, I felt that I needed to be in an area where people would be interested in holistic conscious care.
What inspired you to become a dentist? And why a holistic dentistry?
I was actually previously studying neurology and one afternoon a friend of mine asked me to help volunteer at St. Mary’s clinic in Stockton, California. I instantly fell in love with the people there. They were so grateful, so kind, and so appreciative of my work and how I made them feel. That’s what matters to me. Feeling like I am making a difference in somebody’s life and truly helping them.
What’s the difference between holistic dentistry and traditional dentistry?
The difference is huge. Traditional dentistry focuses more on “drill and fill” techniques while holistic medicine takes a deeper look at the overall body and what is causing problems. Your mouth is a window to your body. For example, if somebody comes in and has 20 cavities, we need to look at what actually occurred to cause the problem. Perhaps the patient is taking medication that causes dry mouth, or the patient has sleep apnea or acid reflux. Holistic dentistry is looking at the entire body.
What are the benefits to seeing a holistic dentist?
The benefits of seeing a holistic dentist are huge. First of all, I’m going deeper and looking at the entire body. And secondly, I am incredibly detail–oriented. I am not just giving you the best care so that you can prevent cavities, but I am also making sure that you feel comfortable and will be able keep your teeth long-term.
Is there a holistic process to teeth whitening?
The best way to brighten your teeth is to start by brushing your teeth with charcoal toothpaste and then rubbing coconut oil on your teeth. It’s a natural whitener.
How important is flossing, and why?
It’s really important because it removes the bacteria in–between the teeth. Brushing takes care of the bacteria on the outside and the inside of the teeth but flossing gets in–between. This helps prevent gum disease and removes the bacteria that can eat away at the bone and eventually cause tooth loss.
What are your views on fluoride? Do we need it?
Fluoride is not necessary for everyone. We actually get a lot of fluoride from eating regular foods. The purpose of fluoride is only for people who are at high risk for cavities or may have a lot of cavities due to acid reflux or dry mouth.
Are vaping and e-cigarettes harmful to our teeth/gums?
Vaping and e-cigarettes cause dry mouth which causes cavities.When there is a dry environment in the mouth, bacteria can stick to the teeth. And as bacteria sticks to the teeth it releases acids. Bacterial acid can eat away at the bone and cause gum disease.
What is dental mercury? And is it dangerous?
Mercury is very scary and toxic! It can cause Alzheimer’s,Ectopic pregnancy, and can cause Candida overgrowth.
If someone has mercury fillings, should they remove them?
Absolutely! It’s important that the mercury be removed with a SMART protocol to make sure that is it removed safely.
What is the holistic process of filling cavities?
We like to use biocompatible filings. Tooth-colored BPA free–filling material.
How often should we change our toothbrushes?
You should change your toothbrush every three months!
Are root canals necessary?
Sometimes! But it’s absolutely important that you know whether or not you actually need it. If so, make sure it’s done by a specialist with a microscope.
What is the holistic alternative to a root canal?
The only option is extraction and a biocompatible implant.
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Explain oil pulling and its benefits. Do you think it’s effective/necessary?
Oil pulling is a wonderful. The oils commonly used in oil pulling are coconut oil or sesame oil. Coconut oil naturally kills bacteria, so swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day can extract all of the bacteria and kill it.
What’s your morning and evening dental regime?
I like to floss first and then brush my teeth every morning and evening. My favorite toothpaste is my own.
What are your personal dental nécessités?
Electric toothbrushes are my favorite. I also love Coco Floss because it has coconut oil inside!
For oral health, which foods/drinks should we avoid and why?
Avoid sodas because they have acidity. Also, lemon water andapple cider vinegar. As far as food is concerned, you want to stay away from anything that’s too sticky such as dried fruit that stick to your teeth.
The key thing with eating and drinking is that you want to avoid frequent snacking. Each time you eat, the pH of your mouth drops to a 2, which is the acidic pH of your stomach. It takesabout 20 minutes for the pH to become neutralized. So, if you’re constantly snacking your pH levels will stay acidic and will dissolve your teeth, causing cavities.
What’s the best form of gum care?
Honestly the best thing to do for your gums is to floss. The second–best thing is to make sure you are using an electric toothbrush and watching the amount of pressure you use when you brush your teeth. Too much pressure can cause somerecession and make you lose some tissue, so make sure to use a light touch to brush your teeth and gums.
Photographer Credit: Lauren Soden
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