Dr. Terrence Messerman practices biological, biocompatible dentistry and has been mercury-free (amalgam/silver filling-free) and mercury safe for over 30 years. His goal is to treat his patients in the most healthy, caring, holistic way possible and to share information about dental wellness with his patients so that they may make educated decisions about their oral health. He fully understands the important relationship of oral to overall health and realizes that; “You cannot be truly healthy without good oral health!”
Dr. Messerman believes that continuing education is a powerful tool that allows him to give you and your family the best, state-of-the-art dental care. Each year he takes many hours of continuing education courses and he has advanced training in many areas of holistic, cosmetic, and conventional dentistry.
Holistic Dentistry is a philosophy that recognizes that the teeth and associated oral structures are a part of the whole body. Because of this important relationship, we offer a wide range of healthy treatment options. Dr. Messerman also takes a unique Whole Body approach to oral health care; combining sound dental science, modern technology, and years of personal experience with a deep concern for his patients’ emotional well-being and comfort.
Whole Body Dental Philosophy
Dr. Messerman Whole Body approach to dentistry means that he promotes overall health and wellness, not simply the treatment of dental disease. We also, when appropriate, work closely with other health professionals who can support the patient’s efforts to achieve optimal health and well-being. His Health-Centered approach to holistic dentistry means that he treats the teeth, jaw, and related oral structures, with specific regard to how that treatment will affect the entire body.
Why Dentists are Mercury Free and Mercury Safe
Dental schools still teach dentists to use mercury amalgam (silver) fillings and the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to tell the public they are safe. But recently more and more questions have been raised about the safety of the mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings by various forms of stimulatio n. This has resulted in a controversy and an ongoing debate about them – with some dentists saying they are safe and some saying they aren’t. This has now evolved to the point where over 50% of practicing dentists are no longer putting mercury amalgam fillings in their patients’ teeth. In fact, three countries, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have banned the use of these fillings in the dental practice.
The controversy has also made dentists rethink what they were taught in dental school. After extensive research (including reading Dr. McGuire’s book The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings . . . Hazardous to Your Health), and information provided on the ADA’s website, many dentists have concluded that it would no longer be in the best interests of their patients to offer mercury amalgam as a filling material and became amalgam free.
In addition, because it has been proven that unsafe levels of toxic mercury vapor are released when amalgam fillings are unsfely removed, Mercury Safe dentists have made their offices as mercury safe as possible. To that purpose, these dentists use state-of-the art technology, equipment, and safe removal protocols, to protect their patients, their staff, themselves and the environment from excessive, and unnecessary, occupational exposure to mercury at the dental office. In doing so they’ve now made their practices both Mercury Free (amalgam silver filling free) and Occupationally Mercury Safe.
Becoming both a Mercury Free (amalgam/silver filling free) and Mercury Safe dental practice is a decision made by the individual dentist – but they all believe that deciding whether or not to have your existing mercury amalgam fillings removed and replaced must be your choice, and your choice alone. Because they place great importance on Patient Education, they feel it is their responsibility to educate their patients about the relationship of oral to overall issues and to provide them with the information required for them to make educated decisions. That is why many dentists provide Dr. McGuire’s books and why they also encourage patients to go to the ADA’s website (www.ada.org) to learn more about the pros and cons of removing, or keeping, mercury amalgam silver fillings. But again, every mercury safe dentist will make it clear that the decision to remove and replace mercuryt amalgam fillings can, and should only, be made by the patient.
Gum (Periodontal) Disease, Overall Health, and Tooth Decay
All tooth decay and gum disease are of bacterial origin. What is commonly referred to as dental disease is actually two separate diseases: tooth decay and gum disease. You can have one without the other or both simultaneously. The terms “gum disease” and “periodontal disease” are often used interchangeably, even though periodontal disease is much more destructive. Clinically speaking, gum and periodontal disease can be broken down into two categories: gingivitis, the initial and milder form of gum disease, and periodontitis, the more advanced and serious form that infects the bone surrounding your teeth. I will use these terms interchangeably.
The effect that gum disease has on overall health is directly related to the extent and duration of the infection. Moderate to advanced gum disease exposes the body to excessive amounts of harmful bacteria 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as the infection is present. The stress this bacterial infection can place on the immune system is significant and it can dramatically reduce the body’s ability to fight other infections and diseases.
Causes of Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
While the basic cause of tooth decay and gum disease is poor oral hygiene (due mainly to a lack of patient education and/or motivation) other factors are involved. Diet, smoking, vitamin deficiency, genetics, and exposure to toxic substances, such as mercury from amalgam fillings, can also contribute to dental disease. The more advanced form of gum disease is far more harmful to overall health.
Certainly, tooth decay can affect one’s health and damaged or missing teeth can prevent proper chewing and thereby affect digestion. But while tooth decay can contribute to general health problems, its effects are considerably less than the effects of gum disease
The Dental Hygienist: How Healthy Teeth
This page is dedicated to every dental hygienist who understands the value of oral hygiene education. As a dentist who for years also acted as the dental hygienist, and as a long time dental patient, I’ve sat in all three chairs. I’ve learned how difficult it is to educate the patient about oral hygiene using the traditional approach to dental disease prevention.
I quickly discovered that I simply could not afford to take the time to provide patients with all the information I knew they needed. I also learned that the available brochures, videos, and handouts are not very effective. When I hired my first dental hygienist, I found out from her that, unlike myself, her other employers were more concerned about her generating revenues from cleaning teeth (and other preventive treatments) than in taking time to educate patients about preventing dental disease. You may have experienced that situation yourself.
Educate Your Dental Patients Away from the Dental Office
In fact, I found that trying to educate the patient about dental disease prevention at the office was so difficult that I was motivated to write my first book on preventive dentistry for the layperson, The Tooth Trip. But I’d be less than honest if I told you the book was written only for the dental patient. It was also written for myself in order to support my role as an acting dental hygienist. It worked because the book allowed the patient to learn the basic principles of dental disease prevention at home; which is much more conducive to learning than being lectured to in a dental chair. The book also clearly defined the roles of the dental hygienist and the patient. Once the patient learned the basics it then allowed me customize each patient’s oral hygiene prevention program to her needs. As you well know, every patient is different, but all require the same basic oral hygiene education if an oral hygienie program is to succeed.
From my role as a substitute dental hygienist I finally understood how important the hygienist is to the success of a dental practice and to the success of a patient’s oral hygiene education program. In fact, I considered the dental hygienist’s role in the dental education process to be so important that I devoted an entire chapter in Healthy Teeth-Healthy Body: How to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health to explaining how dental patients can more effectively work with the hygienist and utilize her to guide them to oral health. That chapter alone is the key to the book’s success and worth its weight in gold!
The Importance of the Dental Hygienist
In chapter 8, “Working with the Dental Hygienist,” I make it clear that you’re the boss and the patient should always defer to you, even if your instructions differ from what I say in the book. Thus, you don’t have to change your approach to the way you present your own oral hygiene program. But what will change is that you will now have an educated and motivated dental patient to work with. This in turn will:
• save you time
• improve your relationship with your patients
• increase “word of mouth” advertising
• make your job easier & more rewarding