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writeradmin writes blog posts on behalf of Dr. Kasia Lopez

Why Did Yolanda Hadid Have to Go to a Holistic Dentist?

A friend and I had lunch together the other day. She’s been going through Lyme Treatments and just not feeling well in general. We talked about her next step and she said she thinks she’ll have to switch to a holistic dentist like Yolanda Hadid did. I looked into it and see that she felt like she wouldn’t get better with any toxins in her body so she had her amalgam fillings removed. I noticed you’re a holistic dentist. What I’m not understanding is what they do differently. Couldn’t a regular dentist do the same thing?

Annalisa – Staten Island

Dear Annalisa,

Yolanda Hadid Foster
Yolanda Hadid Foster went to a Holistic Dentist in her fight against Lyme Disease

It sounds like you’re a great friend who cares a lot about others. I’m glad you wrote to ask about this. You’ve brought up a couple of great issues.

What Actually Is a Holistic Dentist?

You made a comparison between a Holistic Dentist and a Regular Dentist. That is a common misunderstanding. Some people think Holistic Dentists compare to Natural Medicine practitioners who may or may not actually be doctors. That’s not the case in dentistry.

Every Holistic Dentist is a licensed dentist. Some prefer just doing general dentistry. Others also invested time to study cosmetic procedures and will do both general and aesthetic work on patients. The only thing which distinguishes them as holistic is more philosophical.

Holistic dentists consider your whole body during treatment. They’re careful about every substance they use. For instance, all of them are mercury-free and would never place a silver amalgam filling because of the high mercury content. Dr. Lopez takes several other precautions, including being BPA-free.

Holistic Dentists and Amalgam Removal

You asked a great question about whether any general dentist can removal amalgam fillings. Yes and no. While they can technically remove them, very few of them can remove them safely for the patient. In order to be certain patients don’t inhale or swallow any mercury vapors or pieces, which would be very dangerous, certain precautions need to be taken.

Holistic dentists use a stopper dam and have other equipment to keep you from breathing in any mercury vapors. It’s called sanitary amalgam removal. While there are some other dentists, including mercury-free dentists who can do this. It’s important she checks to make sure they take those important precautions.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Do I Have TMJ or TMD?

I’ve been trying to figure out why my jaw hurts every time I chew. I’ve been doing some research online and it looks like there are two similar conditions: TMJ and TMD. How do I know which is which? Are the treatments similar too?

Lucy R.

Dear Lucy,

Woman in pain from TMJ

I completely understand your confusion. TMD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. TMJ is the abbreviation for the Temporomandibular joint. Many people use the terms interchangeably. The treatment varies, not because of the different names but rather because treatment depends on the underlying cause.

You’ll need to see a dentist who truly understands TMJ. Here’s the struggle many patients find with that. There isn’t a recognized specialty in TMJ Disorder, so realistically, any dentist can treat it. They’re just not all qualified to. I’d like you to look at Dr. Lopez’s TMJ Dentist page to get an idea of what kind of post-graduate training you’ll want from a dentist looking at these particular symptoms you’re struggling with.

Avoiding Overtreatment with TMJ

The unfortunate result, when your dentist isn’t qualified, is usually a massive overtreatment. This can actually lead to more pain instead of less. I can’t tell you the number of patients who’ve come for a second opinion when a dentist told them to treat their TMJ they’d need a full-mouth reconstruction (placing a dental crown on every tooth). Not only does that cost upwards of $30,000 but it’s an extraordinarily advanced procedure that requires a great deal of training unavailable in dental school.

A wise dentist will try the least invasive treatments first. It could just be as simple as needing a temporary orthotic to reposition your jaw. Or maybe your teeth have shifted out of line. A simple Invisalign procedure could have you right as rain.

Invisalign has the additional benefit of being able to double as teeth whitening trays, essentially giving you a two for one.

The key is seeing the right dentist, especially if it does turn out you need the more advanced procedure.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Does a Mercury Free Dentist Really Matter?

My sister in law said it’s important I bring my children to a mercury-free dentist. But, our pediatric dentist isn’t mercury-free. I feel like if it was important he’d do that. But, he said children don’t do well with white fillings. Who’s right?

Belinda G.

Dear Belinda,

Amalgam fillings on teeth
Amalgam Fillings Weaken Teeth
white composite fillings on teeth
Mercury-free Composite Fillings Strengthen Teeth

Children can do fine with white fillings. Some dentists don’t like placing them on children because the children have to stay very still to keep the composite material completely dry during the filling process. However, if you happen to have a wiggly child, usually some nitrous oxide is all they need to relax them. In fact, many children end up sleeping through the procedure.

You don’t necessarily have to go to a pediatric dentist with your child if he’s uncooperative of what you want for your child. There are plenty of general dentists who love treating children and are more than qualified. If you want one who’ll give you white fillings, just make sure you go to a mercury-free dentist.

Are Mercury-free Fillings Important?

While the American Dental Association (ADA) has declared that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe, a number of different studies show that mercury is releasing into the body. Plus, many parents are (understandably) concerned about the risk of putting a toxic substance in their child’s (or even their own) body.

Another thing to consider is the effect to the teeth. Amalgam fillings don’t bond directly to the teeth and actually weaken the tooth structure. Their white filling relatives, however, do bond directly to the teeth and help strengthen the tooth where their cavity is.

Whether you choose to go to a dentist who only does white fillings is up to you and there is no judgment. I’m just giving you some things to consider when making your decision.

This blog is brought to you by Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Can Adults Use Invisalign?

My niece is getting her teeth straightened. I’ve always wanted to do that myself. She came over last week to spend time with me. When we ate lunch she pulled out this clear thing from her mouth. She explained it was a new type of braces. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know she had anything on her teeth. I was astounded. She said it’s called Invisalign Teen. Can adults use it as well or is it just designed for young teeth?

Marjorie

Dear Marjorie,

Invisalign Orthodontics

Invisalign is designed for people of all ages, except for children with still-developing teeth. The difference between the “adult” Invisalign and the teen version is the number of aligners. For the teenagers, you get a few extra because of a teenagers tendency to lose things. If your bite is a good candidate (and many are), age is no reason to disqualify you. If you do decide to get them, you’ll find they’re very comfortable and have a high patient satisfaction rate.

They’re versatile as well. For instance, the Invisalign aligners can double as teeth whitening trays allowing you to do two cosmetic procedures at once. You’ll want to have a check-up to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.

There is another cosmetic procedure that can take care of both of those procedures and more in one. However, whether you get it or not really depends on your goals. If you’re just wanting to update your smile, Invisalign and teeth whitening will be more than sufficient and you’ll look years younger. But, what you if you a completely new smile?

Will Invisalign Give Me a Total Smile Makeover?

While Invisalign will straighten your smile, the shape and color of your teeth will stay the same. If you’re after a total smile makeover, then porcelain veneers are the way to go. They don’t just update a smile, they make it stunning. It’s the go to the celebrities get when they want a beautiful smile.

Porcelain veneers and Invisalign require completely different skills and artistry from the dentist. While any dentist can whiten and straighten your teeth, veneers are much more advanced. Ideally, you’d want to go to a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. They’re among the top dentists in the world.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Why Won’t My Dentist Give Me Braces?

My dentist also has the training to do braces. It’s one of the reasons I chose him as my dentist. I was saving up to straighten my teeth and didn’t want to go to two different offices. I finally was ready. When I went in for my consultation, my dentist said I’m not a good candidate because of fluorosis. Does this mean I can never have straight teeth? Also, I have these awful stains on my teeth. Is it possible to whiten them away? They’re not from food or drink, they’ve been there as long as I can remember.

Deanna O.

Dear Deanna,

Invisalign Orthodontics

You can definitely have straight teeth. I’m a little confused by your dentist’s attitude. I see two easy options with orthodontics. Plus, a non-orthodontic option depending on what type of straightening you need done.

The staining on your teeth is from the Fluorosis your dentist mentioned. Fluorosis is the clinical name for when your teeth are stained from too much fluoride intake. The damage is caused during childhood when your teeth are developing, which is why you’ve had the stains for as long as you can remember. Possibly, you lived in a country that didn’t regulate the amount of fluoride in water or maybe you just ate tons of toothpaste in your younger years. I’ll get to treatment for that in a moment. Let’s talk about braces first.

Fluorosis doesn’t preclude you from getting braces. Though, to get a good bond you’ll want to have more etching done than normal. It sounds like your dentist just isn’t familiar with working with situations like yours. There’s another option, too, which doesn’t require a bond.

Did your dentist mention the possibility of Invisalign? If not, and it turns out you’re a good candidate, I really think you need to find a better dentist. For Invisalign, you don’t need an orthodontist for that at all. Any general dentist should be able to do it. It uses clear aligners instead of the traditional metal braces and brackets.

As far as whitening the staining, traditional teeth whitening will not work. Fluorosis stains are splotchy and the whitening process will only make the differences between that and your natural teeth more obvious. The best option with advanced fluoride staining is to get porcelain veneers.

If you decide to do that, you may not need braces, depending on your specific case. Porcelain veneers can make your teeth look straight even when they’re not. They can close gaps, repair chips, make oblique teeth look vertical. Pretty much they can create any smile you want. The catch is you’ll need to find an expert cosmetic dentist in order for it to look beautiful. Look for dentists who have reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (aacd.org). They’re the most artistic dentists in the country. In fact, most of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Did I Make a Mistake Going to a Holistic Dentist?

I’m pregnant. I should say that up front so you’ll understand why I went to a holistic dentist to begin with. I know a lot of people think they’re fake dentists. I had a nasty toothache. Because half of my face swelled up and I was in tremendous pain, I knew I had a tooth infection. I also knew leaving an infection would be dangerous for both me and the baby. I was in a quandary and thought going to a holistic dentist would be safer because they’d consider the baby and not just my teeth. After an examination, he said the tooth had to be pulled. I figured he knew what he was talking about so I agreed. My sister thinks the tooth could have been saved by a root canal treatment if I’d have gone to a different dentist. She told me that holistic dentists don’t believe in root canals. Is that true? Did I lose a tooth unnecessarily?

Karen B.

Dear Karen,

Chicago Holistic Dentist

First, let me assure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a holistic dentist. They are definitely real dentists with the same training as any other general dentist. In fact, some of them have invested more time into additional training in things like cosmetic dentistry and neuromuscular dentistry than their peers. The biggest difference between a traditional dentist and a holistic dentist is their view of the body.

While a traditional dentist is concerned mainly with your teeth, a holistic dentist considers the implications to your whole body. How far they take that does vary from dentist to dentist. For some, it just means being a mercury-free dentist. For others, like Dr. Lopez, they’ll triple filter their water and make sure everything is BPA free to ensure everything that enters your body is as pure as possible. This is ideal when you’re pregnant, so your choice was a good one.

I doubt your tooth was pulled because your dentist didn’t believe in root canal treatments. There is a very small, fringe group of holistic dentists who fit that worldview, but their numbers are an extremely small percentage of the number of holistic dentists worldwide.

It’s more likely that the tooth infection was so far gone, there really was no way to save the tooth. Given the severity of your infection, based on the symptoms of your face swelling so much, that’s the more likely reason.

However, either way, the tooth has been removed. The next course of action is to decide on the best tooth replacement option for you. Ideally, you’d want to get a dental implant. However, that will have to wait until after you’ve delivered your baby as it requires surgery. It is the best replacement, so if you want that, you can have a temporary replacement put in, such as a removable partial denture or a dental flipper, until you’re ready for the implant.

A second good option is to get a dental bridge. That won’t require surgery, but it does mean grinding down the two adjacent teeth to place crowns on them. If those need crowns anyway, then you’ve got a good solution. But, if they’re perfectly healthy, you may want to consider if it’s worth it to you to get rid of healthy tooth structure for the sake of convenience.

By the way, congratulations on your pregnancy. Having children is one of the biggest blessings available to the human race.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Does Plexus Really Solve TMJ?

I have a dear friend who sells Plexus. I love her to pieces but she thinks it’s the solution for practically every ailment. I half expect her to tell me it can help you regrow limbs soon. She has told me that it solves TMJ problems.  I don’t see how there could be a connection with that. Have you heard of that before? Is it legitimate?

Cully Anne L.

Dear Cully Anne,

Chicago TMJ Dentist

Plexus certainly does seem to be making the rounds these days.  I recently had someone tell me it can cure Lyme. I did some research trying to figure out how the products could affect the temporomandibular joint. The best I can discover is that some of their products boast several products which they report as reducing inflammation.

That can help alleviate some of the symptoms while your dentist looks for the root cause of the problem. It’s a little like taking some ibuprofen to help with the inflammation and pain, except their ingredients are advertised as all natural, which if accurate would be a nice benefit. However, Plexus is pretty pricey, so you’ll want to factor that in.

Though it could potentially help with that inflammation, there are many potential causes for TMJ. In order to really make a difference that cause needs to be worked out.  Sometimes, the TMJ is from your bite being thrown out of alignment. There’s not much an anti-inflammatory can do about that.

However, it could be healed completely and you wouldn’t be stuck spending hundreds of dollars a month on natural solutions to the pain. One Invisalign procedure or a life time of anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. That seems an easy choice to me.

Plus, if you do ever decide to get the Invisalign procedure, you can simultaneously whiten your teeth. The aligners can double as whitening trays. That allows you to get a second procedure for a significant price savings.

There are a plethora of other TMJ causes, many of which have simple solutions. So, yes, you can get Plexus to help with inflammation if you’d like. But, don’t let that be the reason you don’t find out the cause. You could spend a small fortune unnecessarily.

This blog is brought to by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My Dentist Said White Fillings are Experimental

I love my dentist he’s been good to my family for many years. But, I took my grandson to the dentist for my daughter and it turned out he had a cavity. Our dentist was willing to fill it then, so I called my daughter to see what she wanted to do. She said to go ahead, but she wanted him to only have white fillings. I told our dentist that and he said it’s a bad idea because they’re experimental. I decided to wait because my daughter really wanted him to get the white fillings. Is it a good idea? A second opinion would be useful.

Melanie N.

Dear Melanie,

I’m glad you’re seeking a second opinion. I’m also glad your daughter had the sense to insist on a white filling. Composite fillings (aka white fillings) have been used since the 1980s. They haven’t been experimental in decades.

While it’s okay to put this treatment off for a bit while you find a dentist who can properly treat his cavity, you don’t want to wait too long. Dental cavities get bigger. If you put it off for weeks, it could blow up into a dental emergency. It won’t be hard to find another dentist who can do it right.

Truthfully, it sounds like your dentist has been in practice for many years and is just used to doing things the way they’ve always been done. Those methods have served him well for years and he’s not ready to change.

Your daughter has likely heard that the old amalgam fillings (silver) are made mostly of mercury, which is a toxic substance. While the ADA still says they’re safe, there are several studies which have shown they aren’t. This makes patients (and mothers) uncomfortable. Even if they could be safe, they’d rather not risk it. Thus the increased demand on white fillings.

Don’t insist this dentist place them. It’s a completely different bonding technique than he was taught. Without the new methodology, they won’t bond correctly and could end up causing your grandson pain.

I’m certain you can find a mercury-free dentist who’ll work with you. These dentists only place the white composite fillings. You can likely find a pediatric dentist with experience placing white fillings.  If not, there are general dentists who enjoy treating children who are also mercury-free dentists.

This blog is brought to you by Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

 

Should I do Invisalign or Teeth Whitening First?

I’m doing some things to upgrade my smile. I’m very excited. I’m going to both whiten my teeth and do Invisalign. I wondered if it mattered which procedure I do first?  Eventually, I’ll get some dental bonding done to take care of all my chips.

Melissa A.

Dear Melissa,

Congratulations on getting to work toward the smile you’ve always wanted. It looks like you’re wanting to straighten your teeth as well as change their shape and color. I wanted to make sure you knew there’s a procedure that can do all of those things at once.

Porcelain veneers can give you a complete smile makeover. They can change virtually anything about your smile. In fact, a great cosmetic dentist can custom design a look for you depending on what your goals are. They can lengthen your teeth to give you a more youthful appearance or widen them slightly to give you more authority. There’s virtually no end to the variations possible.

However, it is a high-end procedure and will cost more than what you’ve currently planned. That may factor into your decision.

If you decide to stick with Invisalign, bonding, and whitening, that’s okay too. Most dentists will allow you to do both Invisalign and teeth whitening simultaneously. You can use your Invisalign aligners the same way you would whitening trays. You’ll just need to purchase the whitening gel. Make sure you get the professional gel your dentist can provide. Anything you buy over-the-counter will not be nearly as strong.

As far as the dental bonding goes, make sure you don’t bond anything to your teeth until you’ve achieved the level of whiteness you want on your teeth.  Once the bonding is done, there’s no way to change the color. You’ll want your dentist to match it to your final results.

One word of caution with porcelain veneers, if you decide to go that route, make sure you go to an expert cosmetic dentist to get the best results, preferably someone with a beautiful smile guarantee. You can find a listing of artistic cosmetic dentists who practice in your area on the mynewsmile.com website

Best of luck with your smile makeover.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My Childhood Orthodontist Ruined My Smile

I’m distressed about my smile. When I was a child my mother took me to an orthodontist. He felt my teeth were crowded and removed the one right next to my front teeth. That put my pointy teeth close to my front teeth. It makes my smile look ridiculous. Now that I’m older they’ve shifted and I have a big gap between those and my front teeth now. Is there any way to fix this? I don’t just want to push the teeth together because that would look weird to have my pointy teeth so close, but I don’t know what to actually do about it.

Kerri R.

Dear Kerri,

I’m surprised at what your childhood orthodontist did. Removing your lateral incisors is a mistake. The canine teeth are needed where they are to help support your back teeth in the back and forth motion of chewing.

I’m glad you see the problem in just shifting the teeth closer.  That would never quite look right. You’re going to need to work with both an orthodontist and a great cosmetic dentist, preferably one with significant experience with dental implants.

Ideally, you’ll have enough space to place dental implants between your front teeth and your canines. That will get your smile back to normal. Just be sure they’re also an experienced cosmetic dentist, so the results look as beautiful and as natural as you’d like.

If there’s not enough space, you could do another round of Orthodontics, possibly even Invisalign, depending on your case. This will shift everything into position to place the implants.

I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this dreadful position. Hopefully, this will help you move forward and feel confident when you smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.