Last week I introduced the theme of naturopathic medicine and its compatibility with biological dentistry. Now, I’d like to continue that discussion by expanding on the principle of “first, do no harm.”
In 1989, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians adopted its House of Delegates Position Paper, entitled “Definition of Naturopathic Medicine.” This paper, last amended in 2011, explains that its adherents “follow three precepts to avoid harming the patient.”
Let’s have a look at each one and its applicability to biological dentistry.
First Precept: Minimize Risk
Firstly, “naturopathic physicians utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful effects, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore health.” Wow! What a mouthful.
This immediately brings to mind the fundamental principles of biomimetic dentistry. They essentially state that the dentist’s role is to achieve the greatest possible good, on the one hand, by preserving the greatest possible amount of natural tooth and gum structure, on the other. We can think of this as a “minimally invasive” approach to dentistry, with which the more particular approach of biological dentistry is fully in accord. In simple terms: all biological dentistry is biomimetic, but not all biomimetic dentistry is biological.
Second Precept: Avoid Suppression
Secondly, the document states that, “whenever possible the suppression of symptoms is avoided as suppression generally interferes with the healing process.” If you go to a naturopath complaining of a cough, you might well eventually be given a cough syrup. However, before that, the physician, not content with knowing simply that you are coughing, will seek to know why you are coughing. And, for your more complete healing, he or she might permit you to continue coughing!
In the same way, a biological dentist looks way beyond a decayed tooth, so far, in fact, as to see the organ that is energetically connected to that tooth. In this case, it’s not enough to know that a tooth has been compromised by decay. The dentist also wants to know why decay is occurring, knowing that teeth and their associated bodily organs/systems are linked by reciprocal causality. For example, a problem in the upper right third molar raises concerns for the heart and duodenum, and vice versa.
Third Precept: Respect Nature
Wherever possible, for example, remineralization of weakened dental enamel is encouraged, long before a filling is ever considered
Thirdly, and finally, “naturopathic physicians respect and work with the vis medicatrix naturae in diagnosis, treatment and counseling, for if this self -healing process is not respected the patient may be harmed.” This vis mediatrix naturae is understood as nature’s innate and inherent ability to heal itself, if it is but left alone to do so. A perfect example of this is good, old-fashioned bed rest. Why? Because it allows the entire system to heal and reset itself. In fact, we do this every night when (ideally) we shut off the blue lights and go to bed.
Here, biological dentistry agrees again. Wherever possible, for example, remineralization of weakened dental enamel is encouraged, long before a filling is ever considered. The body knows how to heal itself. In this case, our saliva is constantly working to restore the strength of dental enamel. The moral of the story? Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to stay out of its way!
We’ll continue this conversation next week as we consider another important principle of naturopathy, “take away the cause,” which we touched on already above.
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube