Holistic Dentistry Blog
The Mouth-Body Connection
How the answer to your health issues may lie in your teeth
When people think about going to the dentist, they approach the visit as taking care of their teeth and gums, ensuring they stay healthy and clean. In actual fact, when you visit the dentist, you are looking after a lot more than your oral health.
As a holistic dentist and a former GP, I have experienced first-hand that you can tell a lot about a patient’s general health by assessing his/her oral health. It works the opposite way too. In some cases I’ve seen chronic health issues in a patient completely eradicated after addressing a seemingly unconnected problem in the mouth.
Lessons from Chinese Medicine
The great tradition of ancient Chinese medicine, which is still widely respected in today’s modern world, also asserts the importance of the oral cavity in the context of a person’s overall health.
Before examining anywhere else on the body, ancient Chinese physicians would assess a patient’s teeth, gums and oral tissues to gain an initial understanding of a patient’s complete wellbeing. This interconnectedness between different parts of the body is somewhat explained by the meridional theory.
Meridians and Teeth
The ‘meridional theory’ (Longhurst, 2010) describes how a system of channels, or meridians, run throughout the body connecting organs, joints, bones and yes, even your teeth. There are 12 meridians in the body and vital energy or Qi, flows through these meridians. When Qi can move freely around the body through these meridians, you are likely to be in good health.
Meridians can sometimes become impaired, clogged or blocked completely. When the energy flow is disrupted in a meridian, it may present itself as a symptom of illness or pain in an organ or joint that it is connected to. By manipulating the meridians or placing pressure on certain points, these blockages can be removed and balance restored – you might know this as the practice of acupuncture or acupressure.
It is thought that the heavy, toxic metal in amalgam fillings can have a pronounced impact on meridians too, blocking their paths and disrupting the Qi. Researchers have shown that amalgam, when in contact with other metals used in dentistry (such as gold) creates a galvanic current an actual electric current in the mouth. These galvanic currents are also thought to disrupt the messages and energy that should flow through the meridians, between the teeth and the rest of the body.
An Inexact Science
It’s very important to note that meridional theory is far from an exact science. As discussed by Longhurst, numerous methods have been used to identify and explain meridians in relation to the body. However, none of these methods have managed to fully explain the theory and process. Modern physiologists have presented the “neural hypothesis” which relates meridians to the peripheral and central nervous system. When the sensory nerves or meridians are stimulated, a message is transmitted to the brain which is processed and causes the clinical improvements associated with the treatment, e.g. acupuncture. According to Longhurst, this ‘can now be considered to be the most rational basis for defining meridians’.
Evidence of Meridians at Play in Holistic Dentistry
When I first discovered that meridians connected teeth to other organs and joints in the body, I was intrigued, but put it to one side and got on with treating patients as usual. It was only when I started to see evidence in my own patients that I began to take notice. One of the first patients in whom I noticed the connection was Audrey (I have changed her name to protect patient confidentiality).
Audrey came to me to have an amalgam filling in an upper first molar (U6) removed. Although she never suspected any sort of connection, she also suffered with IBS and digestive issues (read more about mercury and food intolerance). It was only when she came for her 6 month check-up she said to me that since having that filling replaced all of her digestive and bowel issues had completely cleared up. Curiously, we looked at the Chinese meridian chart together and saw that the tooth in question does appear to be connected on the meridian chart to the stomach.
I have seen an alarming number of patients with similar experiences over the years and that’s why I now keep a copy of the meridian tooth-organ relationships close to hand in my surgery.
Talk to us at Holistic Dentistry
As I mentioned previously, the meridian chart is not an exact science. A lot more research is required before any practitioner could exclusively rely on it for treating patients. However, for some patients who are suffering with chronic or mysterious illnesses or pains, and their practitioners, examining the chart might just help to uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Take a look at our infographic and see what you think.
If you are concerned about how your oral health might be having an effect on your general health, please contact us through our contact form and we will respond to you query. Alternatively, you can call us on 012866394 / 012867001.