Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. John Humphrey, Jr., a Holistic Dentist, and How Biological Dentistry Plays An Important Role in Achieving Wellness
We are speaking with Dr. John Humphrey, Jr, DDS, and how dentistry can both contribute and address the challenges chronically ill patients deal with from past dental interventions.
Tell Us a Story About a Patient with Chronic Health Issues and How Biological Dentistry Addressed a Missing Link
I’ve seen so many patients like Kate walk through our doors; in the middle of a wellness journey, struggling to find answers, but truly desiring a different perspective. Kate told me about her autoimmune issues, her thyroid problems, headaches, overall feeling of lethargy and a metallic taste in her mouth to name a few.
After talking through all of her concerns and goals for her health, I was able to complete her dental examination. What I found was multiple mercury amalgam dental fillings, along with several porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns. I also learned that one of the crowned teeth had a previous root canal therapy which had been completed over 15 years ago. This tooth had apparently become re-infected a couple of years ago and was re-treated with a new root canal therapy.
Approximately two years before coming to see me, Kate’s previous dentist had recommended placing a crown on one of her teeth that had been restored with a mercury-amalgam filling. The filling had been drilled out and removed in a traditional method with no protection against heavy metal exposure for the patient. Kate was very concerned about her exposure to metals as it was around the time of her dental visit that her symptoms started manifesting.
What had the patient tried for her health before seeking you out?
Prior to seeing me, Kate had been seeking care with her primary care physician who had prescribed several medications for her, including antidepressants and migraine medications. Feeling that long-term prescriptions did not match up with her health goals, she sought care with an integrative and functional medicine provider to get another perspective on her health.
Along with her functional medicine doctor Kate was able to start the process of getting to the root cause of her symptoms rather than just treating the symptoms alone. One step in that process was a recommendation to visit a biological dentist to evaluate her oral health, which is how she ended up coming to see me.
How did you arrive at your course of treatment?
When working with patients like Kate, we commonly collaborate with several other practitioners, such as integrative and functional medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, body workers, and nutritionists.
As we walked through Kate’s comprehensive exam, I noted several metal fillings and crowns that could be contributing to her symptoms. I also noticed generalized tissue inflammation which lead to a discussion about her gut health and nutrition.
We were able to work with Kate’s functional medicine doctor to check her heavy metal levels (in urine, blood, hair, and feces) and were able to determine several high levels, including mercury. Using a high quality mercury toxicity test we were able to take a look at the sources of her exposure and how the body was handling it, giving direction in a successful detoxification plan.
What modalities or therapies did you implement and what was the outcome of the services you provided?
In deciding on a plan of action for Kate, together we decided to work first with her functional medicine doctor to optimize her excretory systems before starting to remove the metal restorations. Getting her kidneys, liver, lymph, large intestines and lungs functioning at a high level was an important first step, which allows the body to excrete the metals rather than just redistribute them.
Kate’s next step was to do blood serum compatibility testing to see what dental materials would be most suitable for her. This gave us direction in the types of restorative materials we could use for her that would have the least allergic responses.
We then moved forward with removal of the metal restorations. All of the restorations were removed using a safe mercury-amalgam removal technique designed to protect the patient and my dental team from exposure to the heavy metals we were removing.
Following each appointment we had Kate take lipospheric vitamin C along with her other biological and nutritional support as determined by her functional medicine doctor. It was really great to see that once her metal restorations were removed and her detox plan was followed through with, she had a noticeable improvement in her symptoms along with labs showing greatly reduced heavy metal toxic burden. It is also worth noting that with changes to her nutritional intake and adding spore based probiotics, she was able to improve her digestive health as well as reduce the inflammation of her gum tissue.
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
Going through my own journey with migraines, I’ve experienced many aspects of the health care system. Through all of it, I realized that I had to be my own advocate, being willing to research, ask questions, figure out what questions to ask, and find providers that were willing to see beyond the symptoms. Having seen many patients in my practice similar to Kate, my decision to treat patients with a holistic approach is constantly being encouraged.
The reason I chose a holistic path of care was that I was seeing more and more patients come in with longer medication lists and more health problems. I saw that in treating my patients with traditional methods, I was exposing them to many possible toxins that could be contributing to their poor health status. My desire for my patients is to be a part of their wellness journey and to help them get to the root cause of their health issues by viewing the body as an integrated whole. This does require connecting them with providers that would have the same goal, and this takes time and effort to build a network of trusted and like-minded providers.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?
The most important lesson I have learned is that you have to be willing to be quiet and listen. There is so much you can learn from your patients about their health if you are able to hear what they are telling you. Learning to ask the right questions helps too, but many times a very simple question will allow them the chance to share their experiences and concerns with you.
Patients that are seeking out holistic care are typically very educated on their health and in tune with their bodies, which can give us so much guidance if we take the time to truly listen to what they have to say. A motto I run on is to be good to people. This applies in all situations and to all people. You never know what someone is going through in their life and if we have a mindset of kindness and compassion, the chances that we will positively impact those around us goes up substantially.
I was born in Colorado but moved around the US as my parents developed their careers. My interest in dentistry began around age 10 and grew into my career goal as I grew up. As a teenager I would spend time observing at dental offices, orthodontists and oral surgeons, soaking up as much as I could. Eventually graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and meeting my wife along the way.
We have 3 beautiful elementary school aged kids and live in Kansas City. My wife practiced as a mother-baby nurse and lactation consultant, which has given me a great perspective on the importance of breastfeeding and it’s relation to dental health.
After being introduced to the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, l was amazed at the research that was being done to help patients have healthier choices in dentistry. I am a member of the IAOMT and have become SMART Certified for removing mercury amalgams in a safe manner. I am also a member of the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, the Holistic Dental Association and the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health.
John Humphrey Jr DDS
Biological and Holistic Dentist
Kansas City Dental Works
Lenexa, KS United States
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As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.