Preventative dentistry pinpoints the root cause of oral disease and makes changes through diet, habits, improved oral and systemic health, and stable physiology to prevent dental disease and obtain excellent, sustainable, long-term oral health.
Mercury Safe, Not Just Mercury Free
Mercury safe is not the same as being mercury free. As a mercury-safe practitioner, Dr. Copeland follows a strict protocol when removing mercury fillings. These protocols protect the client and the dental office personnel who are potentially exposed to high levels of mercury vapor. As an accredited member (AIAOMT) of The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), Dr. Copeland has studied the biological effects of mercury and the safest removal methods, which include supplemental support, negative ion generators, oxygen therapy, natural local chelators such as chlorella, air filtering, and barrier protection. She knows that the single largest exposure to mercury from dental fillings is upon placement and removal, and she considers protection from exposure a high priority, along with patient comfort and material selection.
Click here to view our protocol for safe amalgam removal [PDF].
Least Invasive Therapies
Preventative dentistry includes therapies that strive to conserve tooth structure, even to prevent the stress of dental procedure on a tooth undergoing stress so that it may be restored fully later, and reducing the disease state of the mouth in preparation for dental repairs. Microabrasion removes only infected or fractured tooth structure, conserving healthy tooth structure and providing the perfect surface for biocompatible bonding resulting in minimally invasive, longest-lasting restorations.
Types of least invasive therapies offered:
- Ozone – An energized form of oxygen (O3 instead of O2) delivered as water, gas, or oil. Used as an ultra-strong disinfectant (1 molecule ozone = 3,000 molecules chlorine) and healing enhancer, which has applications in all aspects of healing response and infection control (antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprion). Used in all aspects of Whole Health Dentistry practice.
- Ozone caries treatment – Turing traditional tooth decay removal, millions of bacteria remain in the dental tubules (living tooth tissue) and are covered by the dental filling. Chemical disinfectants available can harm the sensitive vessels and lymphatic system of the tooth. Ozone, by contrast, has proven penetration into the dentin up to 4mm with the correct dosage. Whole Health Dentistry uses this technique with each dental filling, ensuring the best outcome possible.
- Micro-abrasion – Using ultra-fine particles to remove small areas of tooth decay and stains or prepare the tooth surface before bonding to increase bond strength.
- Remineralization – Replacing ions removed by a highly acidic environment, thereby healing the surface of the tooth of the unhealthy patient. This can occur naturally, as with a change in the body chemistry through diet or with the help of remineralization agents such as MI paste. It can be used in place of fillings in shallow “cavities” if used along with disinfection(ozone) to reduce the sensitivity of exposed root surfaces and prevention therapy during periods of susceptibility(orthodontic braces, illness, pregnancy, high stress, non-brushing children and elderly adults)
Periodontal maintenance visits. All would agree that preventing disease is better than treating illness. This same principle holds true for oral healthiness. Cleaning visits, including an oral cancer examination, removing debris – but most especially pathogens – with oxygenating ozone and ultrasonic flushing, and remineralizing polish, help to ensure that the areas one can’t clean at home have the best possible advantage to long-term health. It feels and looks great too.
Biocompatible Composite Resin
Fillings are dental fillings made of bondable composites (a mixture of monomer acrylic-type matrix and ultra-fine glass-like particles). Resin fillings require less tooth removal than other filling materials, such as mercury amalgam and gold, and they bond to the tooth structure, reinforcing the tooth as much as possible. Resin fillings require more care and time to place than mercury amalgam fillings, and there is the uncommon occasion that the inside bonding may cause sensitivity needing the filling to be replaced.
Not all resin materials are biocompatible; however, with testing of many individuals, only those resins that consistently rank least reactive are used at Whole Health Dentistry.
Resin fillings, when placed properly, can give many years of good service and look naturally beautiful.
Biocompatible Crowns And Onlays
These are restorations of choice when a tooth is damaged, fractured, structurally compromised, or in a heavy function zone. In these cases and some others, crowns and onlays are a better option than a filling. An onlay is an abbreviated version of a crown. Both onlays and crowns cover the biting surface of a tooth and those sides which are fractured, unsupported, or damaged. When all the sides and the biting surface of a tooth are covered, the restoration is called a crown. At Whole Health, onlays are preferred over crowns because they conserve more tooth structure and are more cleanable than a crown. It can be made from high noble gold alloys, porcelain, or composite resin.
Replace a missing tooth by holding on to the tooth structure on both sides of the space. Bridges are considered “fixed” because they are cemented into place permanently. Bridges can be made from a selection of materials, many of which are esthetic.
If the supporting teeth are strong and already have restorations, it is reasonable to justify using them to support a bridge. The preparation style and material selection are crucial if the supporting teeth are virgin.
Individuals who, for personal or health reasons, do not wish to have a titanium implant placed may opt for a bridge to replace a missing tooth.
Dental implants replace missing teeth and stabilize prostheses such as dentures. The “implant” itself is a specially milled titanium or pressed zirconium precision post that is placed into a prepared place of the jawbone. The bone grows around the implant to mimic the missing tooth’s root. The implant can then be restored to look and function like a natural tooth by placing an abutment and crown. Implants are made from titanium or zirconium oxide, highly biocompatible materials.
Implants have increasingly excellent long-term stability. However, patients with electrical sensitivities or neural issues should consider all other options strongly before implant placement.
Titanium implants are the most common and have excellent blood-serum compatibility. However, they are electrical conductors; they may give off a grey-metallic hue visible through gum tissue in esthetic (visible) areas.
Zirconium implants are relatively new but have been used in Europe for several years. They do not have the high biocompatibility blood serum testing rating that titanium does and may have higher fracture rates in some cases. They do not conduct electrically and may be an excellent choice for the electrically challenged. They are now approved for use in the United States.
Dental implants have been used for many years and have a high success rate under the right conditions. Whether implants are right for you should be determined by looking at several factors, including overall health, oral infections, and personal preferences.
Temporo Mandibular Joints are the hinges that allow one to move the lower jaw. One can feel its movement by placing the pads of the fingers just in front of the ears and pressing down while opening and closing. The joint is highly complex because it is served by many muscles, tendons, and nerves. In many respects, teeth control the joint’s movement. Sounds, pain, muscle tenderness, and tooth soreness can all be symptoms of the joint not functioning smoothly. This is called TMD, short for Temporo Mandibular Disorder. Aggravating and painful symptoms can be alleviated through proper examination to find the root cause with a thorough exam and bite analysis.
Systemic known causes of TMD may be arthritis, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and chronic infection.
Biocompatibility Testing For Dental Materials
Biocompatibility testing determines which dental materials, such as fillings, crowns, implants, and denture plastics, are least likely to react negatively with a client’s immune system. As any dental material is a foreign object, it has the potential to cause an inflammatory or immune reaction. Dr. Copeland uses only those materials which consistently have the highest level of biocompatibility based on numerous actual client testing results. Personalized testing is the best option for clients wanting to ensure their own results. How is the testing accomplished?
- Obtain a prescription from the doctor for blood serum collection from a local laboratory.
- Obtain a testing kit from our office or directly from BiocompLabs in Colorado.
- Take the frozen testing kit to the local collection laboratory on a Monday or Tuesday.
- Send the serum sample to BiocompLabs using the provided FEDEX envelope.
- Cost of testing – About $50 for the serum draw, $300 for the biocomp testing, and $35-55 for interpretation. Dr. Copeland then interprets the test results to determine which biocompatible materials are appropriate for use based on the client’s dental needs. The process takes about two weeks from serum draw to final interpretation.
Thin pieces of ceramic or resin bonded to the “face” of a tooth when a dramatic difference in the color or shape of a tooth is desired. For a truly natural appearance, some preparation of the tooth may be necessary. In a few instances, prep-less veneers are possible. The number of teeth treated with veneers is ideally determined by what teeth are visible in a fully engaged smile. Depending on the desired effect, this can be as few as six (the very six upper front teeth) or more. Tooth lightening before veneers may be recommended to improve the overall outcome and may enhance the appearance of other teeth so that the number of veneers required can be reduced. Veneers are less conservative than lightening alone but much more conservative than crowns.
The bite must be carefully evaluated before veneers are planned. An occlusal guard is highly recommended after veneers are placed for the longest success.
Tooth Lightening (commonly called bleaching or whitening)
Along with a genuine smile, light-shaded teeth contribute the most to attractiveness and practically gushes well-being. Tooth whitening consists of removing hard deposits, polishing away surface stains, and the use of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide gels to lighten discolorations deep into the enamel. Although some perceive bleaching as too aggressive, it remains the most conservative method to improve a smile. Natural teeth without restorations lighten most effectively. Because old composite restorations do not lighten, they should be replaced after enamel lightening to ensure a shade match. Dr. Copeland prefers using custom-made trays and gel lightening, which is done at home and monitored. There are several reasons:
- The sensitivity that may accompany lightening can be self-monitored
- The lightening endpoint can be self-monitored to avoid an over-bleached look
- The trays may be reused for future touch-ups at will, reducing the overall cost
Enamel shades lighten differently. Like pearls, enamel has various natural “casts” such as yellow, ochre, pink, and blue. Yellow shades respond the best, whether using an over-the-counter, home remedy, or professional lightening from our office.
Those clients experiencing heavy spot discoloration or tetracycline (antibiotic stain) staining may get the best results with light microabrasion or “spot” composites.
In some instances, a client feels certain they would like veneers(see veneers). Lightening is always the first step in planning veneers as they are so thin that the tooth color shows right through. Sometimes the results are so good with lightening alone that veneers are not needed. The goal should always be to conserve and minimally restore to obtain the optimal esthetic result.
Orthotic Night Guards
A hard plastic device worn on the upper teeth provides a comfortable and free position for the lower teeth and jaw to rest. They are sometimes called nightguards as they are often worn at night, though they don’t have to be. Orthotics can save tooth structure by alleviating the effects of grinding and clenching, diminishing muscle pain and fatigue of the head, neck, and face. They can soothe painful jaw joints by providing them with the best position for better health through better sleep. Nightguards are an important tool to plan fixing the bite surfaces of the back teeth. In all instances, they have the ability to improve the health beyond the mouth. Some reasons Dr. Copeland may recommend a nightguard (orthotic) include the following:
- Jaw pain or symptoms that may or may not be painful…to protect the jaw joints
- Irregular tooth wear because of a poor bite
- Poor natural bite that was never corrected
- Poor unnatural bite due to dental work done over a period of time that no longer “works together”
- To help determine a bite problem before planning dental work on the back teeth
- To prevent wear of the teeth for a person who has a joint in a good position but still grinds out of “habit”
- By the way, sleep studies indicate that we typically produce ten times more pressure on our teeth/jaws while sleeping than awake!
- To protect cosmetic restorations of resin, porcelain, zirconium, or glass
Nightguards are prescribed most commonly for jaw joint issues (TMJ or TMD), tooth pain or wear, and to diagnose occlusal (bite) problems before restoring the chewing surfaces of back teeth. For these reasons, the term orthotic is especially appropriate here and must meet very specific criteria.
To accomplish this takes study, understanding, and expertise by the practitioner. In addition to her residency and clinical experience, Dr. Copeland has completed a two-year course of study on occlusal (bite) and joint issues at FACE with Dr. Tom Basta, Dr. Jerry Preiner, and Jeff Brucia.
If you experience bruxing, grinding, jaw pain, or muscle soreness, especially in the morning. Or, if you notice that your teeth are experiencing uneven wear, the doctor recommends an initial exam to determine whether a nightguard or orthotic is beneficial.
Protective Occlusal Guard
A slightly simplified version of the orthotic nightguard, which protects the teeth while it is being worn, usually at night. Sometimes called a night guard.
Are your gums receding, causing sensitivity, unattractive root exposure, or “long teeth”? You’ll benefit from gum restoration. Gum recession affects over 50% of adults and can result from a genetic predisposition, periodontal (gum) disease, the natural aging process, or aggressive brushing habits. Gum recession exposes your tooth’s root structure, making you more susceptible to tooth decay, dental sensitivity, and other health issues.
If you have been told there is nothing that can be done or that your only option is painful traditional tissue grafting (taken from the roof of the mouth) requiring long recovery times, you may be a Pinhole Surgical Technique candidate.
The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a minimally invasive option for treating gum recession. This cutting-edge procedure is scalpel and suture free, resulting in immediate, long-lasting results with minimal discomfort and healing time.
Dr. Copeland is now a Certified Pinhole® Surgery Technique (PST) Clinician. She has responded to the frequent need of her patients for successful, biocompatible, and noninvasive treatment of receding gums by studying with Dr. Chao, the developer of PST. If you are one of the many patients who want gum restoration, whether for one tooth or several, Dr. Copeland is so excited to be able to offer this procedure to you.