Our mouths are the gateway to better overall health.
Biological dentistry does not aim to act as a supplement or alternative to traditional dentistry, but as an extension. It’s about jumping over holes rather than digging them deeper. It aims to bring disciplines together rather than disrupt them. I dream of a world where dentistry and general medicine do not form separate spheres, but work hand in hand.
I dream of a medicine that rejects the idea of separating the body into sections and instead acquires more knowledge about integrative concepts. I dream of a medicine that trains both patients and doctors to understand our organism as a whole. A medicine that understands what causes disruption, but also how the body can regenerate and heal.
A progressive form of medicine, oriented toward health issues people are facing today, needs to do more than dole out diagnoses and treatments. It should give people all the information and tools they need to integrate health concepts into their daily lives so that they can take their life and health into their own hands instead of fatefully having to accept illnesses. I am firmly convinced that this is the right way to respond to the medical challenges of the twenty-first century—and if need be, this path will be led by dentistry.
Teeth and the Nervous System
If a patient goes to their orthopedist with complaints about a pain in their right shoulder, hopefully the orthopedist will think to look not only at the right shoulder itself, but also the patient’s liver and gallbladder. The right shoulder is located next to the right ear, the gallbladder in the upper abdomen. Why should an orthopedist connect the two?
The simple answer is that everything in our body is connected via the nervous system. Every last part of us is alive and continually receives stimuli, which are passed on through a gigantic, superfast data network. This enables us to absorb, process, and respond to everything that happens around us in an instant. But our nervous system is nowhere near as straightforward as we might imagine.
There’s no specific nerve for the left little finger, for example, that feeds it information. Rather, a nerve is usually responsible for entire composite systems, also known by scientists as segments. This is mainly due to the way in which humans develop at the beginning of their lives. From the small cluster of cells, we begin our lives as, our limbs form; they grow in length before, finally, nerve pathways begin to emerge. We begin our lives as a sort of bean, but then we develop as the original tissues shift and move away from one another, a bit like the earth’s tectonic plates.
Although Australia and Europe are far away from each other, they were once part of the same landmass. The common source does not suddenly cease to exist. The same applies to our bodies, which is why organs that are located far away from each other are sometimes on the same meridian. If a part of the body is paired with a section of skin, this is known as a dermatome, or a myotome if it’s paired with muscles.
So, when a person asks, “Why do I have constant shoulder pain?” in reality they may be experiencing pain caused by problems in the organ the shoulder is paired with (its dermatome). Neural therapy takes advantage of this phenomenon and often treats organs via their corresponding segments.
When there is a problem rooted in the mouth, sometimes we feel it in the neck area rather than the mouth itself. If someone tells me they have neck problems, I always suspect that their teeth are to blame. This is because the myotome for mouth issues are segments CI to CIV, an area that roughly corresponds to the area between the shoulder and skull. Almost all of my patients experience a noticeable change in the flexibility of their cervical spine following successful rehabilitation treatment in the mouth.
The nerves can be stimulated in both directions, which is why acupressure and acupuncture tend to be effective and why a massage can be incredibly beneficial. It is possible to send impulses to underlying connective tissues via certain areas of skin. In traditional Chinese medicine nerve connections have played an important role for over four thousand years. These pathways are known as meridians and show acupuncturists the connections between areas of skin and remote regions of the body, as well as between individual teeth and organ units.
I had just begun to study this theory when I experienced an impressive demonstration of how much tooth-organ relationships can affect a person’s life. During my assistantship a young man ended up on my dentist’s chair. He was twenty-four and had been doing professional judo for four years. He was physically and athletically at his peak, until he began experiencing mysterious symptoms. Each night, at a specific time, he started to feel so sick he had to vomit. Of course, he went to see a doctor. And then another, and then another, but none of the doctors could pinpoint the problem. He didn’t have an acute infection, a gastric ulcer, or an allergy. There didn’t seem to be any physical cause for his suffering. He came to me by accident because he needed dental treatment. By this time, he had already been labeled psychosomatic. To see him, you wouldn’t have thought he was an athlete. He was pale, weak, and clearly run-down from the last few years, during which he had fought for his credibility and against an illness that had prevented him from living his normal life. He told me all this as a side note. When he had finished talking, he said: “If you can think of anything, just do it.”
I checked him over and found a tooth that had undergone root canal treatment with a giant cyst at its tip. It had had an effect on the colon meridian. I pulled the tooth out and removed the cyst. A few days later, the patient came back to me. After his treatment, he had gone through the night without vomiting for the first time in months. We found out that he had a detoxification problem (SNPs). When I learned that he sometimes earned extra money by soldering computer boards without any protective equipment, I optimized his diet and micronutrient intake, which helped him deal with his detoxification problems. Soon after, he was able to take up his sport at the level he’d competed prior to his health problems.
The Autonomic Nervous System
Many people regard the meridian system as alternative mumbo jumbo. But today we know that meridian pathways are simply points of the autonomic nervous system that are particularly easy to stimulate: our internal data motorways.
We send the signals for many of the things our bodies do—to run away, say, or to jump on one leg, or to wink at someone—and our bodies respond accordingly. But there are certain functions they don’t let us have a say in—functions they prefer to be in charge of. We can’t stop the digestive system, for example, and we’re not able to control our salivary glands. The blood flows through our veins whether we like it or not, and even our lungs can breathe by them- selves. Our organisms have to constantly adapt to an unpredictable and changing environment and the situations we put them through. We put ourselves into a state of shock by walking out in front of cars or by shoving three chocolate bars into ourselves, one after the other.
For our bodies, this means either cooling us down or warming us up. The body shoots adrenaline through our veins so that we can jump out of danger in time and lowers blood sugar levels that have shot through the ceiling after the chocolate bars. We all have our own internal thermostat, which keeps our most important parameters constantly within a certain range. The puppet master behind these magical processes is called our autonomic nervous system. It establishes a constant balance in the body because it has two major counterparts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
The sympathetic nervous system is the activating part of the autonomic nervous system. It’s responsible for what is known as the fight-or-flight response—the reactions we need to either escape from danger or fight it. The sympathetic nervous system is what causes each of the following vital body reactions to be triggered or activated:
1. It tightens our blood vessels to make the heart pump faster.
2. It activates muscles to make us run faster.
3. It boosts our energy and widens our pupils.
It also stops all processes that would be a hindrance to us in this mode. Some examples of these processes include our immune system, ability to concentrate, digestion, and secretion of saliva. Nobody fleeing from a dangerous situation is simultaneously thinking about the theory of relativity or stopping for a bite to eat. When we’re in sympathetic mode, everything is switched on. The sympathetic nervous system is therefore a powerful puppet master and can influence every one of our organs.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is the system that helps us to rest and digest. When this system is able to take over, it helps us to calm down, to slow down our heart rate, and to activate the digestive system. Only in this mode are our bodies able to relax, regenerate, and refuel. The digestive system ticks over, the liver detoxifies, the glands increase their secretion rate, and the cardiovascular system shuts down.
Most people today live lifestyles that trigger the sympathetic nervous system rather than its more chilled-out counterpart, the parasympathetic nervous system. Noise, deadlines, time pressure, work and family commitments, worries and fears . . . the sympathetic nervous system is triggered in all situations in which we experience what is commonly described as stress. As a result of this stress, the organs targeted by the sympathetic nervous system are constantly activated instead of just occasionally.
Most of us know that we have far too much stress in our lives. But we often overlook the fact that stress doesn’t always come from external factors. Fighting infections or chronic inflammation, suffering from allergies, dealing with toxins or dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut flora) are all sources of internal stress for the body. Our mouths can sometimes be the number one trigger of stress in our lives. We might be able to forget about our bosses at the end of the day, but there are certain forms of stress that we can’t set aside because they come from inside our bodies.
After a period of discomfort and exhaustion, the disruption of bodily functions on a long-term basis can eventually lead to serious illnesses. The health and well-being of a person essentially depends on how well and how smoothly their immune and nervous systems run. There are many factors in the mouth that cause disturbances or lapses in these supersystems. To understand the influence of dental health on the rest of the body, we first have to understand the immune and nervous systems. We often turn a blind eye to their importance. This is mainly because the mouth is considered to be separate from and outside of the body. Biological dentistry uses the knowledge available to us from other sciences and from functional medicine to treat the body as a whole and to optimize health. Ultimately, biological dentistry is the logical progression from the predominantly handicraft-oriented basic training provided to the dental profession. 
Well Being Journal adapted this article from It’s All in Your Mouth copyright 2020 by Dominik Nischwitz, used with permission from Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont, 802-295-6300; www.chelseagreen.com. Referenced and indexed.
Dominik Nischwitz, DDS, is a dentist and naturopath, a world specialist in biological dentistry and ceramic implants, and the president of the International Society of Metal Free Implantology (ISMI). In 2015, he co-founded DNA Health and Aesthetics, Center for Biological Dentistry, with his father in Tübingen, Germany. A pioneer in the field of holistic odontology, Nischwitz regularly gives lectures and trainings around the world. He is the author of It’s All in Your Mouth (Chelsea Green Publishing, March 2020).