Anyone who has ever met me face to face can probably guess that I have a bit of a strong interest in most things dental. To bring everyone else to speed, I am, to use my new favorite medical term, mostly edentulous, lacking all but about 10 lower teeth, and am currently in the process of getting new hardware. Now I have come to terms with my plight (mostly), but I understand that not everyone faced with my particular issue will want to go quietly into that dark gummy night. Unfortunately, it seems that there are a few cottage industries of dental woo that I had no remote clue about, that I just had to share with my new skeptical friends.
Honestly, I had no idea before I started hitting whatstheharm.net and quackwatch.com that one could even pull woo from dentistry other than using acupuncture to elicit a calming placebo effect in nervous patients, because when I’m nervous about getting needles stuck in my face, I’m totally all about getting more needles stuck in my face to calm me down. But I was surprised to see some of our favorite skeptical targets plague what I wrongly believed to a fairly straightforward branch of medicine.
I’ve never heard of the term “holistic” or “biological dentistry” before in my life, but the very name made my eyes roll to the back of my brain. First you have the term holistic, a phrase that ought to be meaningless, but brings to mind all the mind-body-spirit connecting, naturalistic, immune boosting, conventional medicine-phobic fallacies that we tend to hear in more wacky alt-med practices, such as our old friend homeopathy. Ladies, did you have any idea that your wisdom teeth could have a negative effect on those wacky hormone inflections that make being a woman loads of joy sometimes (as opposed to it the other way around like real medicine shows)? Also, if you happen to suffer from chronic fatigue or neurological disease or a host of other chronic conditions, your amalgam fillings might be to blame, and conventional medicine is poisoning you on purpose.
The telling part about that last link is that it outright tells you not to get your fillings removed by a conventional dentist, but go to a biological one who believes that “mercury is dangerous and toxic” and should help you “build up your immune system” before even starting. Because, as we all know, the immune system always needs help.
We’ve all heard of chiropractors and their strange claims, right? How about chirodontics? Yep, you read that correctly. Take all the woo that chiropractors use to justify working on anything but lower back pain and apply it to the mouth and jaw. Apparently this branch is either super new or super obscure, or both, that there’s not much critical information on it. Even trusty Quackwatch has just a placeholder for it, but I thought it would be really interesting to share that such a thing even exists.
There’s a bit more out there, and boy it is out there ( Psychic Dentistry, anyone?). It’s really important that everyone take care of their dental health for very good, backed by science and common sense reasons and it is up to us, the consumers, to keep alert the moment we hear anyone in a lab coat with access to pliers spout nonsense that isn’t backed up by science and call them on it, report it, and for crying out loud, keep those pliers away from your face.