NEW YORK—A holistic dentist can tell a lot about your health by looking in your mouth.
More than just the amount of plaque and number of cavities, the color and texture of your tongue indicate if you have any problems with your organs, whether you may have sleep apnea, or if you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Holistic dentists can do everything conventional dentists can do, but holistic dentists have a different approach. Like all doctors, they follow the Hippocratic ethic of “do no harm,” and use non- or minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. They will only resort to surgery when it’s absolutely necessary.
They see the human body as a complete, intelligent, integrated system. So, for example, they will check the condition of the mouth and teeth to discern the overall state of health in the rest of the body.
Conversely, symptoms elsewhere in the body can also be caused by problems in the mouth. Bacteria can travel from the mouth through the bloodstream to the heart, for example.
So holistic dentists don’t want to just patch things up; they want to treat the underlying causes of gum and tooth decay.
After practicing as a conventional dentist for about five years, Dr. Victor Zeines, D.D.S., M.S., F.A.G., F.I.N.D, started using a holistic approach around the time when the Holistic Dental Association was founded in 1978. While he could call himself one of the pioneers of holistic dentistry, he says with a shrug, “I’m just a tooth doc.”
Zeines likes to think of the mouth and teeth as a coral reef.
“Enamel really is like coral. Its crystalline structure will change depending on the acid content in the mouth,” he says.
The tongue is a very sensitive and quick indicator for what is going on in the rest of the body.
For example, “If it’s grey or greyish-black, it’s often related to stomach problems. If it’s yellow or yellowish-green, it’s indicative of liver or gallbladder problems. If it’s cracked on the surface, it shows a vitamin deficiency. And if the sides are scalloped and large, it could indicate sleep apnea, or mineral deficiency.
“If the tip of the tongue is red, it could be heart weakness or thyroid deficiency. If it’s white, then it’s toxins coming out,” Zeines explains.
Normally the tongue should be pink with a thin white “moss” covering the surface.
Zeines sees a about eight to ten patients a day—people who mostly have either gum problems or want to get their mercury fillings replaced.
Before looking into patients’ mouths, he asks them general questions about their overall health. His office smells of the lavender essential oil that he sprinkles on the patient’s apron and in the air. The smell is calming, he says, and although the discomfort of a possible injection is still inevitable, it’s easier for the patient to bear.
Zeines says that one of the most rewarding parts of his practice is advising patients on their nutrition and on how to boost their immune system—which he says is essential for maintaining healthy gums and teeth.
You can still get plaque, despite good dental hygiene, because plague is “not going to change until you change your acid-base balance in the body,” he says.
Acidity is caused by eating too many sweets, fats, and dairy products. These can also strip the tooth enamel of its minerals—making it vulnerable to bacteria.
“When your acid-balance is too acidic, the minerals start precipitating out of your saliva onto your teeth, and that’s where the plaque comes from, and [from] the bad bacteria.” And that is what causes tooth decay and gum disease, Zeines explains.
Boosting the Immune System
“You don’t get dental problems if you have good nutrition,” Zeines says.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. But nowadays, it’s hard to find foods that are nutritionally rich enough. Organic foods grown in good-quality soil have superior nutrition, but when you get them at the store, they are usually about a week old, and time quickly robs food of its nutrients, Zeines says.
“If you’re lucky, you could get 40 percent of the nutrients you need from the food that you eat,” he says. It’s one of the reasons why there are so many dietary supplements in the market.
Zeines makes his own dietary supplement. He started developing and testing several prototypes in the late 1990s, and three months ago, he launched a high- antioxidant formula called Vital Boost.
He formulated Vital Boost especially to support the immune system and overall health. He says it also helps protect against the effects of dental X-rays, electro-magnetic radiation, and other pollutants that produce free radicals, which can affect the immune system.
The formula contains a plethora of organic ingredients, including vitamins and minerals, superfoods such as spirulina and wheat grass, antioxidants such as acerola berry, fibers like flax seed, plant-based digestive enzymes, a probiotic blend with acidophilus, herbal extracts, and an immune blend containing CoQ10, among other ingredients.
In short, Vital Boost takes a shotgun approach to super-food supplements—giving you everything and more that you might need, Zeines says.
“You may not need everything in it; you may excrete some of it. Yet there are so many good things in there, that it’s going to optimize your health,” he says.
He initially made Vital Boost for himself and has it as part of his breakfast every day. He mixes it with whey protein powder, acai powder, goji-berry powder, cocoa powder, and hemp milk—a combo that’s very filling, he says.
After he was satisfied with the formula, he decided to produce it on a large scale.
“If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my patients,” he says.
Dr. Victor Zeines, D.D.S., M.S., F.A.G., F.I.N.D.
New York City Office
57 W. 57th St., Suite 1008
New York, NY 10019
3103 Route 28
Shokan, NY 12481