Recently while on the mainland for business and a visit with friends, I snapped an inlay (filling) loose while flossing.
In this article, we thought you may find benefit from hearing our thought process, the questions we asked prospective dentists and ultimately what we decided to do to address this dental snafu while away from home.
First, let’s define what happened and the mistake I made which caused the problem in the first place.
(If you want to skip the story, scroll to the end and just gather the takeaway gems.)
Will here. After learning all we did during the Healthy Mouth World Summit, I decided to have some way-too-old fillings replaced. You can read more about that dental experience in our article, “Why conscious sedation may NOT be in your best interest”.
Some of the fillings were big enough that the dentist determined inlays would be the best solution to replace the failed fillings. Inlays, also called on-lays, are partial crowns. You see, once a filling gets too big (or affects more than one surface of the tooth), its capacity to stay intact declines. So, rather than create a full crown, some dentists elect to place inlays, which allows them to leave more of the tooth intact rather than having to crown the whole tooth.
So, here I was flossing unconsciously and ‘snap’, I broke the inlay (filling) loose.
Lesson #1 if you have a crown or any type of filling between teeth (where this inlay is placed): when flossing, never pull the taught floss up. You have to do this funky ‘floss down then pull out the floss around the side’ technique to avoid doing exactly what I did.
I immediately grabbed my bottle of HealThy Mouth Blend, put a couple drops on my finger, pressed on the inlay and popped it back in place, but the damage was done. The filling had broken loose from being cemented to the tooth. Thankfully, it was still in one piece so I was pretty sure it could just be reset.
Figuring out our options…
Question 1: get this done while on vacation or wait until we got home?
We weren’t scheduled to be home for over a week. Every meal, I risked the inlay coming loose and damaging other teeth by biting down on it. Another risk was the possibility of accidentally swallowing it. Plus, since the underlying tooth nerves were used to being covered, anytime I ate or drank anything, there was significant nerve stimulation (my convenient way of re-framing dental pain).
So, I had to get this restoration put back in its place during the trip…
Given this decision, my mind shifted to question #2: how to find a dentist I’d trust to work in my mouth?
What qualities I needed to find in a dental office…
I had three main points to consider to make sure this was fixed in a way that would leave me feeling satisfied.
#1 The dentist has to use ozone gas.
Given the circumstances, I knew I had to find a dentist who used ozone gas in their office.
When placing a filling, inlay or crown, there is a very real risk of trapping ‘bad bugs’ under the surface. Since these microbes thrive in low oxygen environments (like under a filling), it can spell real trouble if we aren’t super sure that the surface is really, really clean. And since this filling was loose enough to come off while flossing, I knew bacteria had gotten under it.
We have heard from dentist friends that it’s unfortunately more common than we, the public, care to believe that decayed tissue is trapped under a filling and continues to undermine the health of the tooth.
From our research, ozone gas provides the best ability to thoroughly cleanse the region. Unlike the liquid materials used to cleanse a tooth in more traditional dentistry, ozone, being a gas, travels down the tiny pores of our teeth. Plus, because ozone is very active oxygen, it is THE remedy for microbes that don’t like oxygen.
#2 The office is mercury-safe.
Honestly, I don’t want to step foot in a dental office that either still uses mercury amalgam or doesn’t take the necessary precautions when removing mercury fillings. Like our friend and mentor Dr David Kennedy shared with us many years ago, general dentists are not sufficiently educated about the toxicity in the industry.
So, I wanted to find an office where I wouldn’t inadvertently be inhaling mercury vapor while being treated.
#3 The dentist has to have a “helper’s heart”.
We believe that we teach others how we would like to be treated by them.
Here’s how that relates to being a new patient in a dental office. We believe we must approach situations consciously and clearly so we can start the relationship on the right foot.
As you may guess, we have plenty of opinions about the industry, particularly how we want (and don’t want) to be treated as patients. So, we needed to find a dentist who was willing to hear our concerns and honor our requests and potentially adjust his/her habits and office practices to meet our needs.
Finding the right dentist…
I had heard of this cool website called OraWellness.com 🙂 where I could search various databases of dentists to find the right dentist to help me based on the above qualities. I literally went to our article titled, ‘Helpful resources to help you find a qualified dentist to assist you’, and looked up the various databases on that article.
First, to IAOMT to find a mercury-safe dentist. At least I could make sure I wasn’t going to be poisoned by mercury from the experience.
I found one dentist in the area that was listed as mercury-safe. I called the office and found that they had no availability all week.
Second, time to find a dentist who used ozone.
After searching both the internet and this database, I found one dentist about 1.5 hours away who looked like the best option.
However, like so many holistic dentists, I found out that he was booked solid for the next 2 weeks. Zero chance of getting in there.
At the encouragement of my wisest counsel, Susan, I turned to our local network. I asked a dear, wise friend in the area who his dentist was.
At least I could accomplish my third desire; a dentist with a helper’s heart.
In the meantime, Susan found a local Naturopath using ozone and called to ask if they could recommend a dentist. They were very kind and suggested we call the same dentist our friend had recommended. There’s the light on the path!
It turned out that this dentist to whom we were being referred had an opening the very next morning!
Once I got to the dental office…
First off, if you’re going to get any dentistry and plan to get any numbing agents, be sure to not take any vitamin C that morning. Vitamin C can make the anesthesia not as effective, requiring more drugs and longer time to numb (doubly bad). For more on this, check out, “How to nutritionally protect yourself from x-ray damage”.
Also, it is possible to politely refuse the needle and ask to be given a few minutes to gather yourself. Breathing consciously can provide tremendous resiliency to prevent nerve sensations from getting the best of you.
I forgot to bring the homeopathic remedy hypericum, which we really like to have on hand as it helps to knock down any dental nerve hypersensitivity. Here’s an article if you’d like a deeper dive on how to use essential oils to help reduce dental pain and treatment anxiety.
I was relieved to find out that the office had literally just moved to this new location 2 days before my treatment. This meant to me that even if they did use mercury, at least the office wouldn’t be loaded with mercury vapor from years of improper handling of this toxin.
The second blessing was that I was their first appointment for the day and the dentist was a friendly person. He came out and greeted me, shook my hand, and asked me some general questions. Very personable and kind. Got the helper’s heart!
Quick side note: on the intake paperwork, they asked the question, “How can we help you today?” with a big blank space. As you know, I’m not shy about using words, so I explained in detail what I wanted done. I didn’t hold back. I even ended with the statement, “… and I want you to do the work like I was a member of your family.”
Once in the dentist’s chair…
I already had a good feeling with the dentist.
So, once in the chair while the assistant was putting on the bib, I said, “I’m a big fan of ‘ideal scenes’. So I’d like to share what I’d like from this visit.” I went on to again explain exactly what I wanted from the treatment.
The dentist listened patiently with a little astonishment and smile on his face. Once I was done, he said, “How did you know I used ozone?”
I explained that I didn’t and I was just expressing my desire. He was thrilled and explained that he used ozone gas everyday in his patient treatment and we entered a fun, engaging dialogue on the benefits of ozone in dentistry.
He was able to pop out the inlay, clean it up, insure that no decay was under the filling, thoroughly cleanse everything with ozone gas and replace the inlay. Other than the fun, engaging conversation, the whole thing took 15 minutes maybe.
If you really want to up your ability to assess a prospective dental team, feel free to download our FREE resource guide, the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry, where we discuss:
- protocols for safe mercury amalgam filling removal
- questions about root canals and crowns
- a whole section on children’s dentistry
Download the OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry for free here.
An important takeaway…
I think it’s important to point out to you that I didn’t tell the dentist what we do for a living. I wanted to check out the dentist for our friend, so didn’t want to be treated like a VIP.
That means that you can receive the same quality treatment provided you honestly express your needs and desires.
As I was walking out, the dentist asked what I did. I shared that I was part of an online health and wellness community helping the world navigate to greater oral health.
He asked, “OraWellness?”
It turns out that an alternative practitioner who carries our products had shared our products with him. When I answered ‘yes’, he shared, “I really like your Healthy Mouth Blend. I use it every morning. My friend Summer gave me some of your product.”
That’s when I knew for sure that I was in the right place! We are truly blessed!
We continued our lively conversation, sharing the research that each of us is currently engaged in. It’s such a precious opportunity to connect with others in the industry who really grasp the impact that our mouth has on the health of our body and whole being.
Thank you so much Dr Tanner for your gentle nature, willingness to listen, and competence in holistic dentistry, and a big thanks to Summer at Savor Your Health for sharing our products with your professional network!
After all is said and done, here are the lessons we learned from this experience.
- Floss consciously, especially while away from home!
- Carry a bottle of our Healthy Mouth Blend so you can manage any mouth stress during travel.
- Ask anyone you trust in the local area for a referral.
- Be willing to ping related resources like naturopathic doctors in the area to get a lead.
- Be ultra clear and write out what you want done (and don’t want done) at that treatment.
- Express your desires very clearly, politely yet resolutely in order to express the fact that you are the boss of your life.
If you ever have to have emergency dental work done while traveling, we hope this article helps you find the same happy ending to your experience as we had during ours.
Do you have a dental experience you’d like to share? What insights/lessons have you learned along your path? Please share in the comments below so we can all continue to learn from one another.
Helpful, Related Resources:
Why conscious sedation may NOT be in your best interest [article]
Helpful resources to help you find a qualified dentist to to assist you [article]
How to nutritionally protect yourself from x-ray damage [article]
How to use essential oils to reduce dental appointment anxiety and pain [article]
OraWellness Guide to Safe Dentistry [FREE resource guidebook]