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The 14 ‘splinters’ this dentist warns patients to keep in mind

While the words may be for the patient, my hope is that you’ll read what I have written below and think about what “splinters” you would identify to your patients and how you’re communicating with them about things in the mouth that could be affecting their quality of life.


If you have any questions about my thoughts below, feel free to reach out to me through my website. I’m always happy to connect.


As a patient, you may not see them, feel them, or even know about them. They are sources of infection and inflammation that I call “splinters.” I count 14 of them and they could be lurking in your mouth and jawbone. These splinters could affect your entire body over time, and they could cause serious problems for you now or years down the road.


Dr. Alvin Danenberg


Dr. Alvin Danenberg.


Ultimately, they might compromise your immune system and spread infection and inflammation to all cells and organs. Unfortunately, many medical doctors have no idea that these “splinters” exist even as these physicians try to treat the chronic diseases caused by them.


Here is a way to visualize this complex issue: If a person were healthy by all definitions of health but had a splinter in his or her finger, the area of the splinter could not heal. However, once the splinter was removed, the puncture wound in the skin would heal. But if that individual began to stab that splinter repeatedly into the original puncture wound, the wound would open and never heal.


Likewise, the immune system cannot heal the body as long as splinters exist. And the body cannot heal as long as splinters continuously enter the body and stab it.


Dental splinters


A dental problem can act as a splinter in your finger that never gets removed. The longer it stays in place, the more damage it can do to the surrounding tissues. Eventually, inflammation and infection can spread to other parts of the body. They travel through the blood system and lymph nodes and even across nerve sheaths. And if new irritants occur or are placed in the mouth by a dentist, problems may compound.


Here are 14 of the most pressing dental problems I have seen in my patients over the past 44 years in practice.


1. Mercury


This heavy metal is part of an amalgam filling in a tooth. Some mercury is released as a vapor 24/7. Airborne mercury is toxic to the body and has the potential to accumulate and damage cells in various parts of the body. An estimated 80% of mercury vapor is absorbed by the lungs and passed to the rest of the body, particularly the brain, kidney, liver, lung, and gastrointestinal tract.


2. Biologically incompatible dental fillings


Dental fillings are made up of many different chemicals. Some of them cause toxic responses in

Psychedelics for Mental Health | Mind

Jon Kostakopoulos had been trying to stop drinking since his late teens. Nothing – not inpatient programs, outpatient programs, Alcoholics Anonymous or pharmaceutical treatments – seemed to help. So when his concerned mother heard from her new doctor at NYU Langone Health about a small trial of something totally different, she passed on the information. That’s how he found himself, at age 25, undergoing a succession of three therapist-supported experiences with psilocybin, a psychedelic component of magic mushrooms that is now being tested for conditions including addiction, cancer-related anxiety and depression.

(Getty Images)

Kostakopoulos didn’t have the kind of 3D, multicolored, reality-distorting head trips that some report – and the 1960s stereotype would suggest. “I pretty much knew where I was the whole time,” he says. In one session, he had a kind of death-and-rebirth experience, with the sense of starting over with a clean slate. “Parts of it were great, full of optimism and hope,” he says. And parts of it were upsetting, full of “guilt and embarrassment for what I’d put my friends and family through,” he says. He felt flooded by the need to recalibrate his priorities, and was able to look at himself – and his alcohol problem – more objectively. Kostakopoulos says his last drink was 11 days before his first supervised experience with the drug. That was five years ago.

But you shouldn’t take Kostakopoulos’ story as proof that psilocybin is the next great wonder drug for treating addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anything else. The larger trials that the Food and Drug Administration requires before considering new treatments are ongoing or in the planning stages.

“We don’t know if it works for any of these things,” says Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Addictive Disorders and Experimental Therapeutics Research Laboratory at NYU Langone Health. What researchers do have is a collection of promising small studies evaluating just a few doses of psychedelics – including MDMA, also known as ecstasy – in conjunction with therapy in carefully selected patients, for specific conditions. And these scientists seem to have the wind at their backs in terms of popular and institutional interest in their work. In 2019, Johns Hopkins Medicine – with $17 million in promised funding from individuals including podcaster and “The Four-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss – launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds. Imperial College London launched its own center earlier that year. Researchers at NYU Langone, the University of California-San Francisco and UCLA are also studying the medical potential of psychedelics.

Psilocybin and MDMA are the two drugs that have gotten the most research attention, says Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Both now have breakthrough status from the FDA – psilocybin for major depression and treatment-resistant depression, and MDMA for PTSD. That means the agency recognizes the potential based on early studies and promises