There are a lot of exciting new discoveries in dental medicine to provide better outcomes for patients. One of the emerging fields is what has been called complementary, integrative or holistic medicine, combining traditional folk remedies from cultures worldwide with the most cutting-edge technologies and techniques of the mainstream. Harold Ravins, D.D.S., a general dentist and the founder of Raveco Holistic Dental Center in Beverly Hills, has been in private practice since 1963. "I've always thought that the mouth is a mirror into the overall body," said Dr. Ravins. He said he hopes that in the near future holistic dentistry will become the norm. "As heavy metal detox & toxicity, and acupuncture were eventually accepted by mainstream medicine, dentists should keep an open mind about other elements of alternative medicine like mercury chelation for dental mercury," he commented. With his drive and determination, Dr. Ravins continues to break new ground in the area of holistic dentistry by offering patients what he believes to be a healthier way to take care of their teeth - as part of their whole body.
THE PATH TO MERCURY CHELATION + HEAVY METAL CHELATION, INTEGRATIVE DENTISTRY
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Dr. Ravins is the son of third generation kosher meat packers. He said he knew early on that he wanted to become a dentist and was always intrigued by biology.
"I learned how to stitch the chickens as a kid, and this helped me become an excellent surgeon, "he laughed, "I was interested in dentistry at the age of 9 or 10, as well as nature because my own dentist took a lot of time explaining dentistry to me."
After graduating from Fairleigh Dickenson School of Dentistry in New Jersey in 1960, he attended a graduate program in oral bacteriology at Ohio State University. He went back to his native Buffalo for a year to work with his mentor, but quickly tired of shoveling snow, Instead, he longed for the sunny weather of California and found himself on the road headed west.
"I always had the aspiration of becoming a successful dentist in California," he recalled. "Dentistry there, as now, was the gold standard for the country and I was very into cosmetic work that was being done in Beverly Hills. I came, got a job here, but always wanted to have my own practice."
However, the formative years were not always smooth sailing for Dr. Ravins.
"It was about 1968 when I was diagnosed with incurable sciatica by my orthopedist," he said. "It was a long weekend in Vegas and after walking the strip with my cane and wife, a taxi cab pulled up to us and it turned out to be a classmate of my wife's who was going for his chiropractic boards."
The classmate invited Dr. Ravins and his wife up to his apartment where he treated the dentist, who suddenly felt much better.
"On Monday, I went back to the tennis courts, and when my orthopedist, also a tennis player, heard my story he said a few unpublishable words and I realized most other doctors would refuse to give evidence of the efficacy of alternative modalities a fair hearing," he said. "I later studied with chiropractors, and introduced cranial therapy to several of my study groups at that time and I published an article called 'Car Crash, Jaw Lash.'"
Dr. Ravins, who still attends many seminars and conferences to keep abreast of the fields, always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He has been fortunate to study with some of his most prominent dental colleagues, among them Dr. Harry Tepper, an orthodontist and innovator in his own right. He taught Dr. Ravins to use removable braces to prevent and correct crooked jaws and teeth for children and adults - a revolutionary idea then. Dr. Ravins did orthodontics for the first 25 years of his career.
"I was learning about more treatment procedures that most dentists did not accept," he said. "But there was always a minority of us who were more open-minded. I was always interested in nutrition and, amazingly, our dental school in New Jersey had the first organic cafeteria in the country in 1956. I joined the International Academy of Applied Nutrition in the 1960s."
Taking a leap of faith, Dr. Ravins decided to create the Raveco Holistic Dental Center after three years of building up his general practice in Beverly Hills.
"I became concerned about the harmful effects dental mercury and mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings, which are 50% mercury toxicity, around this time," he explained, and started looking into mercury chelation. "I haven't done an silver amalgam filling in 20 years, and I use porcelain or white composites instead when do an amalgam filling removal. I used to use gold, but not anymore because of the new CAD-CAM system and I have been following the European dentists by staying metal free. I had my own amalgam filling removal done 38 years ago."
He was intrigued by the broader field of holistic dentistry to include mercury chelation, he said. Holistic, Dr. Ravins explains, indicates that what is going on in the mouth affects the entire body, and effects of dental mercury on human body are, and mercury toxicity symptoms.
"Back in the early 1900s, a very famous Canadian physician, Sir William Osler, wrote that the mouth is a mirror of the body. He was celebrated as the 'Father' of modern clinical medical practice, I, too, take the position that whatever dentistry is performed in the mouth affects the general health of the patient. It's no surprise that holistic dentistry is becoming more popular in the public's eye and it is going to become a much bigger part of general dentistry in the coming decade."
A FIRST VISIT, THE PATH TO MERCURY CHELATION
When a patient first visits Dr. Ravin's office, they receive a standard dental examination, including checking for periodontal infection.
But the holistic objective is to also find hidden infections in the mouth that are not considered the usual dental problems. In many situations, pain is not the primary indicator of a health problem. Detection is accomplished with good quality X-rays and a comprehensive clinical examination, which includes various levels of dental acupuncture energistic testing (James Oschman, Ph.D., correlates traditional Asian medicine's concept of the body's energy with Western science in Energy medicine: The Scientific Basis).
Another part of this first visit includes a bite analysis involving the T-scan test. The patient bites down on paper with a computer chip that transmits a picture of how the teeth contact each other and how well the jaw is functioning.
Included in this comprehensive examination, according to the principles of whole body dentistry, is the BIA, or bioelectrical impedance analysis, which was developed for NASA in the 1970s to measure body mass and detects cellular health in astronauts. It is a painless way to measure the electrical activity of the cell membranes on the foot to determine whether cells are absorbing nutrients and resisting toxins. It is a good indicator as to whether the immune system is functioning normally and provides an excellent marker for overall wellness.
The safest and easiest way to diagnose the presence of heavy metals in the body, and mercury toxicity symptoms is a fecal test, which Dr. Ravins stated provides incontrovertible scientific evidence that many mercury chelation patients suffer from signs of mercury poisoning. The metals measured are mercury (with amalgams and without), lead, nickel, uranium, antimony, tungsten, thallium, platinum, beryllium, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium and copper. The fee is $185; the total evaluation including a written report is under $1,000.
"The center has been looking for years for an accurate, safe way to determine dental mercury toxicity," he said. "We discovered the heavy metal fecal test that was used in pediatric medicine for years, but that was not very popular with the U.S. medical community." The center also found the best lab in the U.S. for processing the test accurately.
At present, Dr. Ravins has more that 200 patients who have been tested for dental mercury and other heavy metals in their system before they had amalgam removal. (The center also found a lab that met its standards.) The result was that 99% showed toxic levels of mercury poisoning from fillings. He invites other dentists to take the test for themselves and to let him know if they might have an interest in attending a workshop about amalgam removal and mercury chelation, mercury detoxification from dental mercury he plans to conduct.
"I don't provoke or tell my patients that they should do amalgam removal and mercury chelation because of the mercury poisoning from fillings," he said. "I give them literature that talks about the harmful effects of mercury. They are asking me for amalgam removal and mercury chelation, and I, in turn, ask them to take the fecal test to check for mercury poisoning from fillings; most come back with high levels. Yet, according to the American Dental Association, there is no scientific proof that the mercury in silver amalgam or dental mercury is leaking into the body."
It's an illogical position, argues Dr. Ravins. "The government's own scientists agree that mercury is very toxic, we now have tests that show a large number of people have height levels of mercury, so are we going to say that putting dental mercury in the mouth for a lifetime is not related?" In fact, although silver amalgam saved millions of teeth in the past, they have been banned in some European countries for many years and we now have healthier materials to use instead of silver amalgam, he points out.
The ADA does say it is okay to do amalgam fillings removal at the patient's request and most dentists will do silver amalgam fillings removal cynically, Dr. Ravins commented. But his colleagues are starting to come around. The State Dental Licensing Board no longer requires using silver amalgams to practice and is the first dental board in the U.S. to take that pioneering position. "Ten years ago, I would have been considered nuts with all of this, but now the evidence is hard to deny."
MERCURY DETOXIFICATION, MERCURY CHELATION
Once the levels of mercury have been uncovered, it is not as easy as just going in and chiseling out the old silver amalgam for amalgam removal because of the concern for dental mercury.
"It requires a great deal of experience and understanding, because each patient is so different," he said. "The periodontal evaluation for possible dental mercury is extremely important because if you have an infection in the mouth, it can contribute to other infections in the body. But if we do a BIA and the cells aren't working right, it means that something is wrong with the overall cellular health."
Dr. Ravins is so adamant about mercury chelation because of the dangers of dental mercury that he even has negative ion machines in his operatories to take out mercury vapors from the dental mercury that's being released in his office after an amalgam removal.
"The mercury vapors released after amalgam removal are most horrendous to our health. Since the mercury amalgam vapors are positive(ly) charged, they attach to the negative ions generated in the room and are collected on a positive cathode reservoir on the wall," he said. "I have to clean the reservoirs every three weeks. Most other toxic gases are also positively electrically charged."
So, why not just simply open a window? Because he would be fined $2,500, since mercury is recognized as so poisonous by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr. Ravins said that recently, a young woman contemplating pregnancy came in for a dental examination regarding the mercury chelation issue, concerned about dental mercury due to signs of mercury poisoning.
"She said she wanted to be toxic-free on conception and then referred her husband to me for the same reason," he recalled.
One of the ways of ridding the body of mercury toxins is by using a heavy metal chelation product called Detoxamin for mercury chelation, "Through all our studies, we've discovered that effective mercury chelation could take months, or even years, to rid the body of such heavy metal toxins. This edta suppository by Detoxamin is a convenient way to do heavy metal chelation, and in particular for mercury chelation, and I'm so impressed by this product that I decided to start using the product on myself," Dr. Ravins said.
Detoxamin is the originator and developer of the patented edta suppositories formula and "Detoxamin edta suppositories are the only product of its kind that actually has the proof to back up its claims," Dr. Ravins noted.
"Scientific evidence is important because all EDTA suppositories are not alike. Formulas, ingredients, consistency, time-release and other important aspects that create high absorption of EDTA suppositories are all different. If you have used IV EDTA chelation before, you know absorption and bioavailability are the keys to performance. Detoxamin edta suppositories are the only viable alternative to IV EDTA chelation in the world."
IV EDTA chelation although very efficacious, is very expensive, invasive, time-consuming and inconvenient, he points out, putting this needed therapy out of reach for most people. Oral EDTA chelation products are poorly absorbed and Detoxamin fits today's lifestyle with its simple, convenient, gently and efficient heavy metal chelation and mercury chelation with proven pharmacokinetic absorption and clinical efficiency, he added.
"Detoxamin's patented edta suppositories are becoming the preferred choice due to the obvious convenience and affordability factor, but more importantly, to the extraordinary efficacy, safety and scientific validation through third party (research) "Current research is focused on the diseases of the prostate, with significant success assessed by the University of California at Irvine biostatisticians."
THE EVIDENCE ON MERCURY CHELATION
As for mercury chelation, Detoxamin said it is one of the most toxic elements on the planet, probably second only to plutonium, yet people worldwide have it in all tissues of their bodies. It continues to be dumped into our waterways and soil, placed into our teeth and injected into our bodies through vaccinations.
Mercury toxicity caused by excessive mercury exposure is now becoming recognized as a widespread environmental problem and is continuing to attract a great deal of public attention. A Nationals Academy of Science study published in July 2001 estimates that up to 60,000 children born in the U.S. each year may be affected by mercury toxicity from mercury exposure. In March of 2002, an environmental group had charged the FDA of failing to warn the public of the dangers of canned tuna mercury contamination from eating canned tuna, which contains high levels of mercury exposure. Texas researchers have found a possible link between autism and mercury exposure in the air and water. In fact, the incidence of autism has grown in the past 20 years, from one in every 2,000 children to as high as one in every 166. Researchers have been hard pressed to explain the increase, but many believe that the increase of mercury exposure to be the culprit.
The United Nations' World Health Organization also reports that the amount of mercury exposure that's absorbed daily by the average human body is 0.3 micrograms (mcg) from water and air, 2.61 mcg from fish and 17 mcg from dental amalgams. Research points out that 80% of mercury vapor from dental mercury is absorbed into the blood, going directly from the nose to the brain, following nasal nerve pathways. Dentists have four times as much of a body burden of mercury than average non-dentist people. Dental workers show 50 to 300% more signs of mercury poisoning in hair and fingernails than the average population. Before public awareness campaigns started, it is a notable fact that the preservative thimerosal (usually added to vaccines) contained mercury. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control called for the removal of mercury from vaccines. Paradoxically, the CDC still continues to recommend the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.
Mercury makes up about 50% of every silver amalgam dental filling, also known as 'silver' fillings, silver amalgam fillings can release dental mercury for up to 70 years. Someone with eight amalgams, for example, could have 120 mcg of dental mercury released into the saliva per day. The maximum allowable by the EPA is less than 0.1 mcg per kilogram of body weight per day to be absorbed into the human body. We now know that the dental mercury/silver amalgam filling is 'chemically and electrically active.' Science has proven that every time we eat, drink or breathe, we may be absorbing disturbing releases of decomposing, toxic particles - dental mercury on human body included. This chronic, toxic accumulation is being shown to have serious, long-term consequences on our immune system, resulting in a variety of diseases and mercury on human body conditions. Consider that while 78% of Americans have dental fillings, 95% of people with disorders of the central nervous system such as MS, epilepsy, paralysis and migraines also have silver amalgam fillings. This begs the question, 'Would you want mercury - one of the most powerful neurotoxins on the planet - embedded in your mouth, only inches from your brain?' The answer is obvious. This is the same reason why you can no longer buy an oral or rectal mercury thermometer.
ACUPUNCTURE AND MERCURY CHELATION INTERCONNECTION
"Every medical problem is interconnected throughout the body, which is why, in acupuncture, teeth are tied to different organs,"Dr. Ravins said. "Since the science is there regarding acupuncture, the insurance industry has recognized this several years ago. As a certified dental acupuncturist, I use it on almost every patient. This is part of the new dentistry involving quantum mechanics and energy, which (Raveco Holistic Dental Center) has documented over the years. By crossing the midline of the mouth - the conception meridian - with a metal wire or bridge, this blocks the energy flow. The symptoms that are cleared include headaches and neck aches' advantages then include improved vision, equilibrium restored, and behavior modifications in children with orthodontic wires. Many prostate patients have been able to reverse their prostate disease diagnosis by addressing the mouth as part of the overall cause of the problem." Heavy metals have been shown to inflame the prostate, too.
But everything Dr. Ravins does is not "alternative." He tries to stay abreast of the latest dental technology and is an avid user of the CEREC system for making dental crowns. He is fully equipped with digital X-rays, which reduce radiation by 90% compared to film. He also used Diagnodent, a laser instrument which measure decay where the X-ray cannot.
"The center as also been using laser dentistry for more than 10 years in the treating of gum disease, and more recently, we are able to treat teeth for decay, nerve infection and tooth sensitivity without using injections, as well as for bleaching," he said. "It's excellent for children - no more needles for drilling."
Dr. Ravins is hoping to add an associate to the Raveco Holistic Dental Center to help him expand the practice to meet demand as the public becomes more interested in these things.
"I plan to take my 45 years of study and teaching of holistic dentistry to the forefront of the dental profession," he said. "The plan is to share all of this with a new partner who can continue the importance of this work and possibly buy the practice at some point. In five years, I see myself doing clinical research to show how the mouth can help keep a person healthier and prevent disease."