Photo By Dennis myers

People sometimes have the experience of their teeth hurting when they are suffering from something seemingly unrelated to dental problems. That interrelationship makes a certain type of dentistry—biocompatible dentistry—a coming field. Dr. Zeny Ocean of Reno is one of its practitioners.

What is biocompatible dentistry?

Biocompatible dentistry means that whatever we do—treatment, materials, products—are in harmony with the body, you know, the health and well being. For instance, something that would not be compatible would be putting mercury fillings in, which would be poisonous. So whatever we do is designed to be in harmony with the body.

Give me an example of a practical application of this. Suppose you’ve got somebody who’s undergoing cardiac surgery. You work, I assume, with the surgeon?

Yes. As a matter of fact, just recently I got a patient. He had a torn mitral valve in his heart and so his surgeon said, “You know, I can’t operate on you because of the infection—you know, your teeth and your oral infections. So you need to get that cleaned up.” And I also had an orthopedic surgeon request the same thing for somebody having a hip implant and they wouldn’t do the surgery until this person was completely, or as much as possible, disease-free orally because if you have high levels of bacteria, high levels of viruses, high levels of candida fungal forms, it all dumps into the bloodstream and creates heart problems, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, you name it. And it all starts orally. So that’s why, whatever we do, we want it to be compatible with the individual. And so we do a lot of things—we remove the toxic silver mercury, we try to get heavy metal detoxification, we test for compatibility of dental materials, we can test for do blood tests for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, oral cancer. And then we use … soft tissue lasers to help detoxify the bacterial in the periodontal pockets. We can do saliva tests that will tell us about the oral DNA and genetic predisposition for inflammation and infection. We have a pretty comprehensive—very comprehensive—non-surgical periodontal disease program.

You haven’t done this during your entire career, have you?

I have, actually—but I never told anybody. I always hooked up with some of the alternative doctors, the homeopathic people, and taken care of probably thousands of chronically ill patients with MS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, that kind of thing.

Is every dentist qualified?

I would say every dentist is qualified if they have the interest in doing that. That’s going to be the shift in dentistry, is towards being concerned about total health. If a dentist was interested in total body health—I’m talking about 10 years ago—he probably would have gone into medicine. I think most of us are more mechanically oriented to do fillings and crowns and that kind of stuff rather than being concerned [with total health]. There’s a shift [toward] becoming more and more aware of that. If somebody goes to a physician and he’s got high levels of infection and the physician says, “Listen, what does your dentist say about that?” And the guy says, “My dentist never said anything about that”—well, hello? … So I think it’s up to us; we’re in the best position because we see patients on a regular basis, like at least every six months. We’re more apt to play a role in, well, actually saving people’s lives. I routinely do for people who have periodontal disease and they’re undergoing treatment, we test for c-reactive protein, which tells us how much inflammation is present in the body, and it’s inflammation that kills people. [We do] blood sugar tests for diabetes. Those are straight-forward markers. I mean, they’re basic because they’re two diseases that cost a tremendous amount of money. For instance, I think it’s Cigna and Aetna spend $525 billion a year on heart disease and diabetes. And that’s a few years ago. It could even be more.[now].

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...