Biological dentistry, like naturopathy, is less a distinct discipline in its own right than it is a particular way of practicing a common discipline. In the case of naturopathy, that common discipline is medicine, considered in its widest application.
Refusal and Separation
Now, biological dentistry first became known by what it refused to do: amalgam fillings, root canals, titanium implants, fluoride treatments, etc. Then, of necessity, alternative therapies were introduced, such as the use of composite fillings, cavitation surgery, etc. We learn more every day, and our protocol for safe dental revision reflects in practice the knowledge that we gain.
In a similar way, naturopathy began as a reaction to what its advocates and practitioners saw as a growing distancing of the conventional medical world from that of nature. Symptoms overshadowed causes, and pharmaceutical drugs largely replaced natural remedies that had been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
The Principles of Naturopathy
Progressively, naturopaths developed their guiding principles of practice, which were finally “codified” in the 1980’s by the AANP (American Association of Naturopathic Physicians).
As a recap of what we’ve discussed in our most recent posts, those principles are:
- The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae)
- Identify and treat the causes (tolle causam)
- First do no harm (primum non nocere)
- Doctor as teacher (docere)
- Treat the whole person
Bringing It All Home
These are the same tenets that Dr. Huggins always taught. In fact, they all come back to a single principle: “First do no harm”!
However, this is not limited to what we actually do. It includes what we don’t do, but should. What do I mean by this? We stopped teaching people (i.e., doctor as teacher) how to take care of themselves!
For instance, you may have the beginnings of a cavity where you have some hyopcalcification in the enamel. Rather than having that drilled out and replaced with filling material, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to provide your body with the proper amount of minerals, enabling that hypocalcification to heal itself within as little as twenty-four hours?
Then, there’s the principle of identifying and treating the causes. Let’s make that really simple: it’s what you eat. That’s right: nutrition is the foundation of good health, oral and otherwise. “Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”
Finally, let’s consider the principle “Treat the whole person.” How are dental materials we use going to affect the whole body of a given patient? For example, how will bridgework that locks the bones of the head affect the whole body? How will putting nickel based orthodontic wires in a teenager’s body affect their mood? I could go on and on.
Instead, I’ll stop here and wish you all a safe and happy weekend!
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube
In the light of our last blogpost, there are some important points that need to be clarified. Certainly, this short post is not intended to be either the full or the last word on this matter. However, I think three important points need to be made, as incentives to further discussion.
Principles and Practice
Firstly, there is a big difference between principles and practice. A principle tells you what and why you may or may not do something. A practice, on the other hand, tells you how it is done.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is a principle that applies with particular aptness to medicine in general. It’s the difference between treating a person with a broken arm rather than a broken arm that ‘happens’ to be attached to a person.
Acute and Chronic
Another important point to consider is the difference between acute conditions and chronic ones. While it’s generally more important to look for the causes of symptoms in all their living complexity, sometimes symptoms themselves urgently demand attention.
You’re at the dinner table and one of your fellow diners suddenly reaches for his or her throat, desperately gasping for breath. Now, that’s hardly the time to run field diagnostic tests on the epiglottis (i.e., that generally handy flap that neatly closes over the trachea when you swallow food or drink). No, the symptom (i.e., suffocation) must be treated immediately.
In the same way, if I get hit by a car and need surgery to stop the internal bleeding and reset my broken bones, I need more than a homeopathic remedy if I want to arrest the bleeding and mend my fractures, though the right remedy certainly would help me heal.
So, provided the guiding principle is that medicine exists to assist the body in its own work of healing, with treatment of symptoms as a subordinate principle in service of the first, then I see no difficulty achieving harmony.
Technology: A Great Tool in the Right Hands
Finally, it’s impossible to deny that technology is a great tool in the right hands. In my clinic today, I have access to sophisticated techniques that were not even dreamt of when I was a dental student: things like ozone therapy, 3-D xrays, and laser beams. These are phenomenal assets to any medical practice. It all depends on why and how they’re used. After all, a tool is like an extension of the hand, and every tool is ultimately only as good as the hand that wields it. The same hammer used to build a house can knock it down, board-by-board.
I could go on and on. We haven’t even mentioned the principle of prevention. We’ll save that for a post of its own!
Meanwhile, all the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube