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Natural Awakenings Coastal Carolinas

The Road Less Travelled

Wilmington Holistic Dentistry offers traditional and holistic dentistry that uses only safe materials. Owner Jessica Shireman, DMD, is certified by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (AIAOMT) and says, “I wanted to be a dentist since I was a little kid. Most of my family are physicians and the other side is artists, and so I’ve always wanted to be a dentist because
I really like doing things with my hands. It’s like a combo of the two—medicine and art.”

Dentistry is traditionally a profession where doctors create voids in teeth and fill them with foreign materials that range from mercury-laden metals to BPA-containing plastics. She states, “Holistic dentistry uses a whole body approach to dentistry. Let’s say a person has chronic illness and chronic issues. You listen to what all the issues are and then look at their teeth and figure out if one of the specific teeth is causing one of those issues. Then you would prioritize treating that tooth first.”

Shireman notes that one major difference between holistic and traditional dentistry is avoiding the use of mercury and removing it safely. “Anytime there’s a tooth that has mercury, we do a lot of extra things to protect patients from swallowing or ingesting it during the procedure.” She is accredited in the AIAOMT Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) protocol. “I don’t place any restorations that are metal-like implants. I place non-metal ones.”

The doctor explains, “If it’s a filling and it’s silver-colored, then it’s probably a mercury filling. If it’s a crown and it has metal around the edges of it, then it’s more of a precious metal, and different people have different metal sensitivities. Gold crowns are more of like a fine jewelry metal, so
if someone is sensitive to nickel [a commonly used alloy], they might be sensitive to a gold crown. There is more than one type of allergic reaction. Typically, the metal reactions are Type 4 allergy reactions. If someone is stung by a bee and is allergic, they go into anaphylaxis and blow up like a balloon; that’s a Type 1 allergy, whereas nickel is more like a long-term irritant.”

Wilmington Holistic Dentistry uses holistic dentistry principals for biocompatibility testing and dental implants; biological tooth extractions; fluoride-free dentistry; holistic dental cleanings, ozone therapy, pediatric dentistry and more. One of her role models is Blanche Grube. Shireman shares, “She’s from an older generation of holistic dentists. She is an amazing person and knows all about holistic dentistry. She took over the practice of the father of holistic dentistry, Hal
Huggins, in Scranton.”

Shireman advises, “I’ve been a dentist for 12 years. I’ve been holistic for eight years. It’s a very small minority of dentistry. When a patient comes to me and says, ‘You took out my mercury and it changed my life,’ that is the reason why I do that. I really fell in love with it and I went back and relearned everything I know. I started becoming educated on holistic dentistry by going to AIAOMT meetings, which is the holistic dental organization, doing safe mercury accreditations
and relooking at all the materials I was using previously, realizing some of them were absolutely terrible. I didn’t go back to school because there’s no such thing as like school for being a holistic dentist, unfortunately. It’s all self-taught.”

The connection between oral health and systemic well-being is at the heart of biological holistic dentistry. Shireman advises, “The mouth is the start point of the GI system, so I see a lot of people that have good gut health—good oral microflora; or bad gut health - bad oral microflora. Anything you use as a product in your mouth, you’ll accidentally swallow some of it, so it will directly impact your oral microflora. It’s really interesting to look at people’s bacteria all the time
because people that you would think would be really healthy are not healthy.

“In our practice, we check people’s oral bacteria, so if you think about your gut microbiome, you wouldn’t really want to wipe it out twice a day, would you? We are more of a probiotic approach than only using things that kill bacteria when you need them. Most Americans have atrophic microflora, which means like no bacteria because they overuse hand sanitizer on their skin and leave nothing left behind. This is the same concept with using mouthwash all the time.”

Each patient obtains a full assessment of health status prior to the recommendation of any restorative dentistry. Shireman recognizes the need for safe and healthy alternatives to dentistry and offers IAOMT-accredited and SMART mercury-filling removals. “We offer some pH testing and nutritional counseling, fluoride-free dentistry and consultations for any types of dental care desired. We also have a three-dimensional cone beam radiograph to assess airways and bony defects such as cavitations and failing root canals,” she relates. “Patients will find the care they
receive in the practice to be detail-oriented, with clear explanations of treatment, including full risks and benefits.”

Wilmington Holistic Dentistry is located at 6200 Oleander Dr., in Wilmington. For appointments and more information, call 910-777-4020 or visit Martin Miron is a senior editor at the Natural Awakenings Publishing Corporation.