Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a wholistic/biological/environmental dental practice?

Dr. Davis is a general dentist with a wholistic philosophy.  We realize that terms such as “wholistic” can suggest different things to different people. Our goal is to integrate the benefits of modern, state-of-the-art dentistry with respect for your whole health concerns.  Dentistry today offers more than ever to the health conscious person. It has progressed through multiple stages of understanding and benefit to the patient:

  • Tooth focused: My tooth hurts. I want it fixed. I want it out. Or, my tooth doesn’t hurt, therefore I’m ok.
  • Mouth focused: I want my teeth to work together, so I can chew comfortably and have a great smile.
  • Health focused: I want a strong immune system. A healthy mouth is essential to my well-being.

 Each level of understanding has surpassed and incorporated the previous stage. Today’s dentistry promotes comfort, strength, function, beauty and health. This is the mission of our practice.

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What does this mean in your day-to-day practice?

We support a patient’s right to seek and receive complementary health care, including the best of Western medicine and more traditional therapies and disciplines. We reject the notion that one approach should threaten the other. We don’t mean to imply that a dentist, whatever his or her philosophy, can replace your other health practitioners. Instead, we strive to be an active, contributing member of your health care team, supporting your dental needs.

Health care is not just another consumer good. You are not a mechanical object that can be sent away and fixed. You are a highly complex, living organism; you are an essential part of your health care. The process can be more successful as a team effort between patient and caregiver.  We seek to give you personal attention, to value your uniqueness, realizing that one size does not fit all.

We emphasize the use of materials that are considered biocompatible for most people, as well as environmentally compatible. including tooth-colored resins, porcelain/ceramics, and high grades of dental gold. We do not use mercury-amalgam fillings or nickel crowns. We support our patients who wish to get biocompatibility testing to further refine the selection of materials.

When removing old dental materials from the mouth, we strive to protect our patients, staff, and the environment. We follow the safe dentistry procedures of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, as well as those of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, in our handling of old mercury amalgam and other materials. We isolate teeth with a dental dam, and carefully cut the materials away from the tooth. We use a cold water spray to reduce vaporization, high-volume suction, and powerful air cleansing technology. We employ the most advanced equipment to prevent even small traces of old fillings from escaping into the environment, and all of the scrap is recycled regularly. This helps to protect our community’s water and wildlife, as well as people.

And, on a deeper level, there's far more to oral health than the treatment of disease. The study of wholistic oral health offers a wealth of guidance to help each person create and nurture a foundation of whole health.

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What is it like to come to your office as a new patient?

Patients often say, "This is the most thorough dental exam I have ever had!"  In keeping with a wholistic philosophy, we strive to be thorough. The new-patient visit generally lasts about 90 minutes.  We start by getting to know you and finding out your dental goals and concerns, and what is important to you. We use digital radiography and close-up photography to look at your mouth and teeth in great detail. We examine the mouth and bite as a whole. The doctor may recommend additional diagnostic procedures for some patients. You are unique, and your needs and goals may differ from the next person’s.

The next step is to review the findings, photographs and other digital images with you. In a process of co-diagnosis, we can then arrive at a strategy and plan for your dental health. In order to give this process our best attention, we often  schedule an additional, complimentary consultation visit for this portion of your initial examination. This gives the doctor an opportunity to review the records and think through the various options for achieving your goals. It may better enable us to discuss all of your concerns and help you to arrive at a strategy that works for you.

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Is it necessary to get x-rays?

Like you, we want to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation. This is why we have installed a fully digital x-ray system. Our x-rays require much less exposure compared with the traditional film x-rays, which we do not use. Please be aware that a thorough dental exam is not possible without x-rays. Much of the mouth’s anatomy lies below the surface. This isn’t to say that all disease can be seen on x-ray. However, many, many times x-rays reveal actively occurring, damaging disease processes, where there was no other indication.

With periodic x-rays, you can substantially reduce your longer-term exposure, through prompt diagnosis and treatment of tooth decay and other infectious processes. A healthy, stable mouth requires far few x-rays than a mouth with active disease.

As another way of reducing your risks, we also use laser diagnosis in our practice. In some circumstances this can detect decay before it can be found on an X-ray.  But we still depend on x-rays for many other circumstances.

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Do you see patients of all ages?

Our office is equipped to serve people with adult dentition. We begin accepting patients at approximately age 18, and these slots are reserved for the children of our adult patients.  We also enjoy caring for the parents of many of our adult patients.

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Will you accept my dental insurance?

Through long experience, we have found that insurance corporations are more responsive to you, their client, than to us, a third party which provides them with no revenue, and with whom they have no relationship. Patient involvement promotes transparency and responsiveness. Thus, all of our patients pay directly for their care at each appointment, and patients with dental benefits are reimbursed directly by their carriers. We will be happy to provide you with appropriate forms that you can file to receive your reimbursement. As an added benefit to our patients, the great majority of whom do not have dental benefits, this procedure helps to keep our fees lower. We are saving the salary of an insurance and billing coordinator.

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What will it cost to have my dental work done? Does biocompatible dentistry cost more?

The type of dentistry we strive to offer is a bit like organic food. It costs more to produce than if we skipped the extra steps. Still, we practice thrift in many other ways, which enables us to keep our fees in the same range as other area practices that also strive to provide exceptional, not average, care.

Costs for dental care can vary quite a bit from person to person, because needs vary considerably in different situations. There also may be a range of treatment options for you to select from, now or in future stages of care. After the examination described above, we will discuss your options and, with your input, arrive at a treatment plan. At that point, we usually can estimate costs very closely.

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Are payment plans available?

Yes. We offer a variety of financial options, including some that can help you to establish a comfortable monthly payment.  This is a great help in containing the costs of dentistry, because prompt care can greatly reduce the risks of additional complications and even higher costs. Our office also works with a financial carrier called Care Credit that can help qualified applicants with a monthly payment plan – including an interest-free plan for up to 12 months.

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Do you replace amalgam fillings?

All general and restorative dentists replace amalgam fillings. Like anything else that experiences wear and tear, amalgam fillings eventually do wear out and have to be replaced. And many patients today are electing to replace them anyway, as a cosmetic or environmental choice, or upon the advice of a physician.

The question then becomes, how to replace old fillings and with what? In our office, biocompatibility is a primary consideration in the hundreds of steps that occur in the process of dentistry. We follow the protocols of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, a scientific organization that promotes biocompatibility in dentistry. There are many hundreds of choices of replacement materials available today, including a variety of metals and tooth colored materials. Additional information is included above.

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What is amalgam? What does that word mean?

The silver-colored filling material commonly called amalgam is a mixture of metals used to make dental fillings. It contains about 50% mercury, 35% silver, 13% tin and 2% copper. In a general sense, the word amalgam is defined as any alloy containing mercury.

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Is the mercury in my fillings safe?

This is a controversial and disputed subject, and to be fair, we must acknowledge that honest, ethical and well-educated people may strongly disagree with each other in their answers to this question. We are among those who have concerns, especially for people who may have high sensitivities to chemicals and metals. There are strict regulations to govern the handling of dental amalgam, both before it is placed in the mouth, and after it is removed. Citing its long history of use, the American Dental Association says it is safe and stable when mixed into a filling material.

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I have health problems. Could exposure to dental materials contribute to these problems?

That question is beyond the scope of a dental degree or dental license. If you suspect that you are experiencing an environmental illness of any kind, we strongly recommend that you see a physician whose practice encompasses these types of questions. Environmental toxins of many kinds are widespread in our environment. Any related health problems would be complex, warranting methodical and skilled attention to the body as a whole.

As a general dental practice we strive to keep abreast of the fast-growing body of scientific studies about the biocompatibility of dental materials. This endeavor does not give us the medical expertise to evaluate systemic conditions in the individual patient. Our role is to support you as the dental caregiver on your team of health professionals. Optimum dental health is undeniably a factor in whole health. We will strive to help you follow your physician’s recommendations.

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Do you perform root canals? Why are root canals controversial in wholistic health circles?

Our dental practice is restorative and preventive in nature. We generally refer root canal treatment to specialists in that field. These doctors, who are called endodontists, receive two or more years of training beyond general dental school in treating disease of the tooth roots.

Root canal treatment is generally advised when a tooth becomes irreversibly inflamed, painful and/or infected. This may occur due to infection, decay, trauma, or even wear and tear on the tooth. The procedure involves removing the inflamed/infected nerve from the tooth root and then placing a filling into the canal. This can enable the patient to keep the tooth for many more years. However, sometimes the procedure fails to eliminate the infection. Re-treatment or other surgeries may be necessary. Because there is a risk of failure and infection can persist, some wholistic practitioners recommend against root canal treatment. They believe that removing the entire tooth is more thorough and definitive. Opinion on this subject is divided. It is important to know that extraction of teeth is also an imperfect solution that may also involve serious consequences. And, it is important to consider that the prognosis of individual teeth varies greatly, depending on the circumstances.

When it comes to root canals, everyone can agree that the best scenario is prevention and/or early treatment of dental decay and periodontal disease. Nobody desires root canal treatment or to lose a tooth. On the other hand, most adults do face this decision at some point. When this occurs, some of our patients choose root canal treatment, while others choose extraction and some form of tooth replacement.

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What is a cavitation? Does your office perform cavitational surgery?

Cavitation is a frequently used term for a NICO lesion, which stands for neuralgia-inducing cavitational osteonecrosis. The textbook, “Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology,” by Neville, Damm, Allen and Bouquot, defines it as a necrotic lesion in the jawbone, which is usually associated with facial pain. While the cause is unproven, it is thought that such a lesion may form at the base of an infected tooth or in an extraction site that didn’t fully heal. Like root canals, cavitations are a controversial subject. Mainstream dentistry considers them to be rare. Some practitioners believe they are more common and may be linked to problems with overall health. Diagnosis is sometimes made by panoramic x-ray, although the lesion may not show up on an x-ray. Some advocate a newer type of ultra-sound scan called “Cavitat” as more thorough diagnostic technique. Surgery into the jawbone is generally the prescribed treatment, although a few practitioners inject the sites with medicaments.

Our practice is restorative in nature, focusing on rebuilding the mouth after dental disease or surgery and preventive care. We generally refer complex surgeries to a specialist. For more information on cavitations, you may wish to refer to a book by Wesley Shankland, DDS, http://www.drshankland.com, called “Face The Pain.”

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What is your position on fluoride?

We believe that fluoride is not a nutritional supplement, but may have medicinal uses, and that medicines are to be used sparingly. Like so many medications, fluoride poses a toxic risk, especially for sensitive people, such as young children and people with kidney disease. Here is a quote directly from the tube of a leading brand of toothpaste:  “Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age.  If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.” 

We oppose fluoridation of public water supplies.  There is currently a campaign in Asheville, called Fluoride Free Asheville, seeking to end the practice of adding fluoride to city water. 

More fundamentally, we believe that dental decay is primarily a nutritional disease.  A diet rich in minerals, vegetables and healthy fats promotes tooth health and whole health; a diet high in sugar, white flour and other processed carbohydrates can destroy both.

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