Integrative Dentist Promotes Whole Body HealthOct 31, 2023 ● By Sheila Julson
Dr. Mohammad Taqvi, DMD and Dr. Anthony Bennardo, DDS. Photo courtesy of Integrative Dental Health.
As an integrative, holistic dentist, Dr. Anthony Bennardo, DDS, of Integrative Dental Health, located in Chicago’s western suburbs, is just as attentive to his patients’ overall health as he is to their teeth. With an understanding of the systemic whole body-oral health connection, he and associate Dr. Mohammad Taqvi, DMD, educate patients about how the mouth is the window to the body.
“We look at patients differently than a traditional dentist,” Bennardo affirms. “For example, we look at how the tongue is positioned in the mouth and how it may affect the patients’ air volume, which can affect their sleep, as well as cause an accumulation of acid in the mouth, which can cause cavities and gum disease. A misaligned jaw can affect airflow while sleeping, leading to sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Integrative dentists look at the body as a whole system.”
Bennardo was always health-conscious, but his journey toward integrative dentistry began 16 years ago after his wife was diagnosed with cancer. “That pushed us even further into looking at what we put into and on our bodies, along with air quality and the type of water we drink,” he reflects.
Several years ago, Bennardo began experiencing intermittent sleep disruptions not related to his sleep apnea, as well as anxiousness, tremors, dizziness, tingling in his arm, irregular heartbeat and changes in blood pressure. A series of tests results came back normal, and a doctor suggested that he take antianxiety medication. The idea of taking pharmaceuticals for these symptoms didn’t sit well with Bennardo. “I know myself; I’ve been running a business for over 25 years with no health issues. Why was this happening all of a sudden?” he pondered. “Then I thought, ‘Could it be mercury poisoning?’”
Bennardo began in-depth research about mercury exposure from dental fillings. “I found that mercury is a known neurotoxin that affects the brain and nerve tissue,” he says. His research eventually led him to the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicity (IAOMT), an organization of dentists, medical professionals and scientists dedicated to education and awareness of toxic dental materials.
Bennardo became certified in the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART), a protocol developed by IAOMT for safe removal of mercury amalgams. The SMART procedure involves precautions such as draping the patient to keep mercury off skin and clothing, and an oxygen mask worn along with specialized vacuums and air filters to minimize ingestion of mercury vapor during the amalgam removal. Bennardo may also assist patients with detoxification supplements to help rid the body of heavy metal toxins. “These protocols help create a clean working environment for my team and our patients,” he says.
Restful Sleep Starts With Oral Health
Because sleep—or lack thereof—affects so many aspects of overall health and wellness, Bennardo uses his personalized knowledge of the mouth-body connection to address sleep apnea. “Just by looking at a patient’s mouth, I have an indication what may be going on with their sleep,” he says.
As a dentist, Bennardo cannot diagnose patients with sleep apnea, but refers them to a partner company, SleepTest.com, which offers a user-friendly sleep study test that can be done at home under the direction of a medical doctor. For patients that are diagnosed with sleep apnea, Bennardo offers custom-fit oral sleep appliances that bring the jaw into a certain position to keep the airway from closing.
Integrative Dental Health also offers a membership program for people that don’t have dental insurance. For an annual fee, patients can receive “Integrative Dental Benefits” that cover cleaning and X-rays, along with discounts on dental procedures.
Through his practice, Bennardo strives to build more
awareness of sleep disorders, heavy metal toxicity, gut health, nutritional
counseling and detoxification protocols. “If the gut is not functioning
correctly, the good and bad bacteria will be imbalanced, leading to a host of
health issues,” he affirms, “We will look deep at every aspect of our patients
dentally and systemically so patients leave with not just a nice smile, but
also overall health and wellness.”
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.