“Doc, I think it’s time for dentures. Everyone in my family has them. Mom got hers when she was 18 and dad when he was 25. My brother and sister both got theirs in their 30s. Now I’m 45 and tired of throwing good money after bad!” It’s a story I hear, in one from or another, every week. That’s partly because I’m really good at dentures and a lot of people come to me for that specific reason. But it also has a lot to do with our culture and education.
NATURE VS. NURTURE
One of the significant downsides of the Theory of Evolution is its tendency to rob us as individuals of our right to self-determination. Now I’m not here to take sides on the science of evolution or to relitigate the Scopes Monkey Trial. But all theories have upsides and downsides, and one significant downside of evolutionary theory, as it is commonly understood, is the conclusion that we are all the victims of our genes. The same selection process that made us the preeminent species on this earth is also blamed for our faults and shortcomings. (Right now I’m speaking of health issues; I’ll leave the psychologic, sociologic, economic, and political implications for another day!)
Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, chemical addiction… and dental disease, to name a few, are all blamed on genes. If you have the _________ gene, then supposedly the best you can hope for is to be able to afford the requisite pill or surgery needed to “fix” the problem. Now as good of a dental surgeon and prosthodontist (one who makes dental prostheses – dentures, bridges, cosmetic veneers etc.) as I am, I will be the first to admit that these are relatively expensive solutions that we all should want to avoid if at all possible! And the good news is that they are mostly avoidable. Let me introduce you to the science of epigenetics.
“Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes.” Now hang on! I quoted that definition for those who like scientifically precise language. For the rest of us, epigenetics refers to learning how we can shut of and turn on our genes. In other words, how a person with the heart attack gene, or a dental disease gene for example, can actually turn those off and never suffer the from the disease(s) he or she was born to duplicate. Pretty cool stuff!
NO MORE HEART ATTACKS, AND KEEP YOUR TEETH TOO
In fact, in one way or another, it is this science of epigenetics that has unified the practice of dentistry and medicine into what is now being called whole-health Integrative Dental Medicine (what I like to refer to as Wholistic Dentistry – with a “W” to distinguish it from the often more limited practice of holistic dentistry). And it is true, those disease genes really can be turned off with some very simple and inexpensive lifestyle modifications. But the really amazing thing is that the same changes that turn off the dental disease genes, also turn off the heart disease gene, the diabetes disease gene, the Alzheimer’s/dementia genes, the arthritis and auto-immune genes, and more! It is known proven science!
And what to me is so mind boggling is that in this age of skyrocketing out-of-control medical costs, life-long health is so inexpensive and attainable. But so few know about it. We have the solutions. And all that is required is a willingness to take personal control of your life, and a little education; evidence-based education that cuts through all the ignorant pop celebrity based “interweb” BS.
The willingness to change, well that’s on you. As for the education, a good reliable place to start would be to read Dr. Dean Ornish’s Undo It or Dr. Michael Gregor’s How Not to Die. And of course, there is no substitute to finding a physician and/or dentist dedicated to helping you on your total health quest!
Dr. Peckham practices comprehensive wholistic dentistry right in Priest River, Idaho. He is certified in Advanced Dental Implant Therapy, Lead Management and Choice Theory, and as a Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) facilitator. He also coaches dentists nationwide on implementing Integrative Dental Medicine into their own practices.