Monday, February 27, 2012

Holistic Approach to My Dentistry - Beyond the Oral Cavity

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I was recently inspired enough to, here it is!

“The smile is the window to the soul….and I will do everything in my power to help my patients’ soul shine through”   This is my personal play on the old proverb and part of my personal mission statement.  

Over the years, I have treated thousands of patients with this in mind.  I have gravitated toward a holistic approach to my dentistry that takes into equal account three components: the health of the oral cavity, the function of the teeth, TMJ’s and jaw muscles, and the aesthetics of the smile.  

When a patient chooses this approach, the dentistry becomes very predictable - and as an unforeseen bonus, lives change.  I have seen my patients get married, have kids, get new careers or jobs, get in shape; the list goes on and on.  I am genuinely humbled and honored to play a part in their lives.

The sentiments that we receive from our patients boil down to two common themes.  First, they tell us that we were a catalyst to help them find joy in their true selves.  Second, they are grateful for the work that my team and I accomplished.  

The end result varies -  they are out of pain, their smiles are what they had always imagined, they moved from varying states of disease to a desired level of health.  Their personal goals have been reached and their spirit has been lifted.  What a gift to my team and to me!

After I finished dental school in 1995, I did a hospital based residency in which I learned how various disease states affect the oral cavity and (vice/versa) how the oral cavity can affect various disease states.  

In the patient population that I treated during my residency, no one ever expected to be affected by a serious illness.  In most cases, their oral health needed to be addressed as a matter of life or death.  

It was during this period of my training that I firmly realized that the physical, emotional and spiritual well being could be affected by the status of the oral cavity. I didn’t want to just do “drill and fill” dentistry.  I wanted my dentistry to have a positive effect on the overall well-being of the patients that I serve.  

As I have gained experience through the years, I see our practice philosophy evolving even further to encompass a larger holistic approach than my comprehensive dental approach.  The American Holistic Health Association looks at well-being as follows:

“Holistic health is actually an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment. It emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to achieve maximum well-being, where everything is functioning the very best that is possible. With Holistic Health people accept responsibility for their own level of well-being, and everyday choices are used to take charge of one's own health.” (

This is not to say I am putting a thumbs down to traditional medicine, I am realizing a definition to the philosophy that has been under the surface to my actions my entire career.  

The bottom line is this -We play an important part in overall health and well-being of our patients. This is not just limited to the physical components of their dental health, the emotional and spiritual components are positively affected too.

This self discovery has me extremely excited and my spirit is charged.  

We work with many other health professionals.  They are hand picked not only for their clinical skills (which of course is top notch), but their philosophy is in alignment with our philosophy. They fill a need in our patients that will fulfill a piece of the puzzle to help them achieve their desired health goals.

A conversation with a dear friend and patient of mine helped me identify this sub-surface itch and is been my catalyst in helping me put it into action.   

In the holistic approach, here is where dentistry meets nutrition, converging at the point of your health.  Tracy Stevens of Pantry Rx helps people with food choices that will achieve overall health goals. Nobody gets or stays healthy without proper nutrition.  It affects everything from your teeth, your weight, your health, your confidence, and your happiness.  

As we spoke, I realized that she was doing the same holistic work that I (am) was doing. She obviously wasn’t doing dentistry. But her passion towards her clients’ overall wellness makes perfect sense to me.  

Our work compliments each other’s seamlessly.  The health, function and aesthetics of the oral cavity need to be working harmoniously for the best possibility for proper nutrition to occur.

Tracy’s practice emphasizes bio-individuality and whole-life factors that lead to food choices and eating habits.  She focuses on the positive, with foods that work better for you, without diets or deprivation. She does personalized Nutrition Counseling that gives you strategies, support, and accountability.  She also does in-home food overhauls that teach you what to keep and what to avoid and why, as well as grocery store and health foods store tours to find the good foods.  In effort to encourage you to take advantage of this service, I invite you to a free one-on-one Nutrition Counseling session with her.  She will help you identify your challenges, strengths, and weaknesses as well as aim you down the path toward your goal of better health.   Her website is To arrange this free session contact Tracy at or 303-907-5845.

In future blogs, I plan to highlight other resources (or partners) that we have in pursuit of serving the holistic needs of those that choose us for their dental care.