The future of dentistry is unconventional

By Alvin Danenberg, DDS, contributing writer

August 8, 2018 -- Up until now, dentistry has been conventional. However, dentistry in the future may be quite different from dentistry in the past. I see dentistry broadening and deepening its approach to treatment. The conventional way of doing things may begin to embrace current unconventional ideas of functional medicine and other progressive healthcare modalities.


Alvin Danenberg, DDS
Alvin Danenberg, DDS.

In this case, conventional means "something that is based on what has been done or believed in the past." Dentistry is a profession that has been practiced for the most part in a conventional manner. The role of dentistry has been to repair the damages done to the mouth.

The majority of mouth damage has been a result of periodontal disease and tooth decay. Other damage has been the result of trauma to the mouth, developmental abnormalities, and diseases other than tooth decay and periodontal disease.

The problem with conventional dentistry and also conventional medicine is a lack of insight. Conventional thinking has not been aware that "outside factors" are causing cellular damage, which eventually could cause various dental and chronic diseases. The overwhelming problem is that conventional healthcare professionals have not been able to prevent disease because of ignorance of the underlying causes.


Unconventional is the opposite of conventional. Here, I use unconventional as meaning "something that is not based on, or conforming to, what has been generally done or believed."

The unconventional modalities that I believe will gain traction are related to understanding and putting into practice the outside factors, which eventually affect every cell in the body. There will be more holistic and integrative means to understand what is happening in the mouth and the rest of the body based on functional medicine concepts.

Functional medicine

“I see dentistry broadening and deepening its approach to treatment.”

Environmental factors, diet, and personal lifestyle are the outside factors that cause the body to be either healthy or unhealthy. Functional medicine attempts to identify and address these root causes of disease.

Functional medicine practitioners view the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by dental and medical specialties. This unconventional medicine delves deeply into discovering and treating the actual causes of disease and not just treating the symptoms of disease.

Conventional meets unconventional

The unconventional methods of functional medicine are providing evidence that there is more to dental health than just brushing and flossing. Environment, diet, and lifestyle have a huge effect on the health of the gut, the mouth, and the rest of the body.

The body and the mouth are intricately and intimately connected. Whatever affects one cell in the body ultimately can affect every other cell in the body. This includes human cells and microbial cells. All cells communicate with each other. They do this by emitting biological chemicals and electrical frequencies that can travel within the fluids and nerve tissues of the body.

Chronic disease

Almost all chronic diseases, including dental diseases, have their origin in the gut. Processed foods, added sugars, excess carbohydrates, environmental toxic substances, stress, poor sleep, and lack of exercise, as well as excess exercise, have been shown to be insults to the gut. These "insults" are the "outside factors."

Chronic inflammation is another outside factor. Chronic inflammation weakens the overall immune system, which may lead to a manifestation of various chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, dental diseases, and many other autoimmune diseases.

In addition, these insults can prevent essential nutrients from either being available to or being absorbed by the body. Healthy cells require essential nutrients to survive and thrive.

Dentistry in the future

Dentists will become students of the effects from the environment, diet, and lifestyle on the health of the body. Dental professionals will begin to integrate this knowledge as they treat the mouth. They will begin to educate their patients about these factors and will help patients modify them to improve their mouth, as well as the rest of their body.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS, practices at the Bluffton Center for Dentistry in Bluffton, SC. He is also on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2018
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