From Biosis 11, July 2006
Dr. Verigin’s Comment:
On Leaving Behind Assembly Line, Wal-Mart Style Dentistry
by Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN
Most dentists today are still taught to be glorified mouth mechanics, just as I was back in the 1960s. The whole focus in dental school was on repairing the ravages of intra-oral damage. But we were also taught how to participate in the “dental enterprise.” Manufacturers distributed their tools, supplies and services to the schools, training aspiring dentists to keep buying them once they established their practices and began seeing patients. New products were developed under the influence of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The NIDCR funded product research at the school, as well as clinical trials. The results were used to develop new programs to train future dental scientists and teachers.
In this way, the industry nurtured itself. But it was growth without significant change.
The industry continues to operate on this principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Its institutions remain intertwined. The American Dental Association (ADA), American Medical Association (AMA), dental and medical schools, pharmaceutical and food industries, and manufacturers continue to support each other in pursuit of profitable self-perpetuation. As a result, you wind up with studies such as those published in the April 2006 JAMA (Journal of the AMA), insisting that mercury fillings are safe for children.
Mercury, of course, is not safe for children. Neither is it safe for adults. But it is a lucrative poison for corporate dentistry. Mercury fillings are not technique-sensitive. They can be placed much more quickly than nontoxic composites – three to four “silver” fillings for each composite. Dental care becomes assembly line work. The dental chair becomes a site of volume selling, like a Wal-Mart or Costco. The more product you move, the greater your profit.
Consider that in 2004, US dentists purchased 150 tons of mercury to implant in their patients’ mouths. They also bought countless gallons of fluoride – a poison which the industry still claims is the key for preventing tooth decay.
Within weeks of starting my practice in Escalon, CA, in September 1965, I began to recognize that I wanted no part in this kind of dentistry. I looked for alternatives. Being free to think for myself again, without instructors marshalling my every move, I felt like I’d been let out of Folsom Prison!
I began to study voraciously. Many writers inspired me to move to ever higher levels of compassionate, integrative dental care. Books like John Naisbitt’sMegatrends, Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics and Turning Point, and Larry Dossey’s Beyond Illness and Space, Time and Medicine catapulted my thinking away from dentistry as industrial production to the provision of services and information. But most inspiring of all was Marilyn Ferguson’s Aquarian Conspiracy. Among other things, it showed “how the technologies for expanding and transforming personal consciousness, once the secret of an elite, are now generating massive change in every cultural institution – medicine, politics, business, education, religion, and the family.” This transformation was both personal and cultural. I saw it in myself. I saw it in the people who sought services from our office.
According to Ferguson, when properly applied to health care, the word “holistic” refers to a qualitatively different approach to treating disease and symptoms. It seeks to correct the underlying disharmony causing the problem – sometimes with conventional means, sometimes not. Absorbing this, I knew that I would no longer see “patients” in my office. By definition, a patient is a submissive, dependent recipient of services. A patient is acted upon. Henceforth, I would only see “clients,” active participants in the process from fact-finding through treatment and healing. A client takes part in decision-making. Clients are educated as to all their options so they and the dentist can work as therapeutic partners.
To grow in my ability to provide such service, I worked with Ed Arana, DDS, to establish the American Academy of Biological Dentistry (now called theInternational Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine to reflect its more global focus). In the 1980s, German dental and medical practitioners were consistently raising the bar of biological care. Thus, the Academy’s mission was to bring over the best-informed German researchers to teach American dentists the interrelationships of biological dentistry and medicine.
Likewise, I made several trips to Germany to expand my knowledge. Twice, I attended Medicine Week in Baden-Baden. Most biological practitioners consider this annual congress to be the mother of all natural medicine meetings. It offers numerous lectures and demonstrations by the world’s most cutting-edge researchers and practitioners.
Through such study here and abroad, I learned the science of bioenergetic and biochemical balancing. I attended classes at UCLA and received my license to practice dental acupuncture. Such education qualified me for the American Naturopathic Certification Board (ANCB) as a CTN, or Certified Traditional Naturopath. The ANCB is the leading non-governmental organization certifying naturopaths, ensuring that board certification truly represents the highest degree of professionalism and excellence.
This journey has improved the quality of service we provide you, as well as ourselves and our loved ones. We are proud to help people make so many positive changes in their lives. We look for the patterns and causes of illness – the “footprints” of illness – so we can help provide cure, not just the temporary elimination of symptoms. To do this is to be concerned with the whole client, not just the ailment. To do this is to see disease and disability not as conditions but processes.
Pain and disease are wholly negative. They are the expression of imbalances, conflict and disharmony. Corporate medicine provides surgery or drugs as the primary interventions. We, on the other hand, promote minimal intervention with appropriate technology and non-invasive techniques. Corporate medicine is concerned with efficiency: seeing as many patients as possible in the shortest time possible in the pursuit of profit. We are interested in human – and humane – values.
Above all, we believe in professional caring as a component of healing. Ferguson noted its importance in her book, as well, describing the long history of physicians who didn’t understand the power of care. “Yet on another level, we always knew that you can die of a broken heart, that a woman’s prolonged distress can disturb her unborn baby, that old people don’t grow senile if they maintain interest in life.”