We spoke with our client (and now, new dentist), Dr. Michael Schecter. We love that he takes a holistic, preventative, and comprehensive approach to complete dentistry. We found out his solution for treating a nervous patient, when you should bring your kids for their first check up, and his secret for achieving the ultimate healthy smile (and it’s not a toothbrush!).
Which do you consider yourself first and foremost, Dentist or Trail Blazer?
I consider myself a biological dentist; a health care practitioner who moves beyond just functioning as a tooth mechanic. I work with my patients to realize ideal oral and systemic health. (So, he’s a modest trail blazer).
Your father is a dentist as well. Have you always wanted to follow in his footsteps?
It’s funny, not exactly. Initially I was more interested in medicine. After working as a respiratory technician in a hospital, I realized that mainstream medicine was not for me. I became more interested in dentistry because the combination of art and science is very appealing to me. I get to help people heal, but also work with my hands and sculpt “artwork”. I really enjoy the engineering side of dentistry.
As I continued to grow and learn, naturopathic medicine seemed to call out to me. I teetered back and forth between naturopathic medicine and dentistry until I realized that they could be pulled together under one roof. I set about studying homeopathy, nutrition, and rieki, and now feel that I can offer my patients true comprehensive dentistry.
So you take a holistic approach to dentistry. What does that mean?
I take a responsible approach to dentistry and health. I recognize that processes in the body affect the health of our mouths, and conversely what I do in the mouth affects the systemic health of my patients. I do my best to minimize invasiveness and toxicity, while maximizing prevention and balance.
As part of your dedication to patient’s health and the planet’s health, you limit your use of pharmaceuticals. How does this affect your patients? Are they nervous?
First of all, my patients are never pressured into any treatment. My philosophy towards practicing dentistry is pretty simple. I am not shy about my approach, and will do my best to share as much information as I can with my patients regarding any of their health decisions. At the same time, my patients vary in their individual health philosophies. It is my job to inform my patients, yet cater to their philosophies. I have some patients who want pharmaceuticals, and I have some patients who even refuse homeopathic remedies as they choose to rely on positive reinforcement to heal. It is all about patient choice.
I do appreciate that your question reflected pharmacy’s impact on the planet’s health in addition to our personal health. Unfortunately, big pharma plays an increasingly larger role in health care, politics, and government policy. 95% of North Americans over the age of 65 are on long term medication. We need to break the model of relying on the magic bullet to cure what ails us, and refocus on life balance and supportive modalities. The pharmaceutical industry grosses annually more than the petroleum industry in North America.
Regarding nerves? I’ve got a great homeopathic remedy for that : )
You also perform dental surgeries like implant placement, which usually includes the use of pharmaceuticals. What’s your approach?
My treatment always comes back to the holistic philosophy. I work with my patients to understand why they have developed these issues to start with. I try to step out of simply repairing the problem, and try to foster a healing environment. I also take the time to explain to my patients what the pros and cons are of their decisions. For example, when it comes to tooth replacement, it is important to have a conversation regarding root canals vs. implants vs. bridges vs. dentures vs. doing nothing. It is critical to work with materials that are biocompatible for the individual patient.
You are correct in your question regarding the pharmaceuticals. This is where patients notice the difference. I offer natural rinses and homeopathic remedies which can replace the harmful suppressive pharmaceuticals. I find my patients heal fast and with significantly less pain. Of course, there is always choice, and my patients are encouraged to select the route they are most comfortable with.
Are you qualified to offer natural solutions and homeopathics as an alternative to antibiotics and pain medication?
Yes. I have studied homeopathy with Dr. Andre Saine at the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy. I have spent significant time pouring through the literature studying classical homeopathy as it relates to dentistry and surgery.
A very accomplished homeopath and medical surgeon from the 1930’s, Dr. Clark, was able to treat a variety of patients very well. I have adapted and improved upon his protocols for my patients. I perform extensive surgery including wisdom tooth extraction, implant surgery, and gum surgery all just with natural remedies. My patients heal better and use far less pain medication.
It is very common in my practice for patients to take no pain medication or perhaps a single Advil as the freezing is wearing off. In traditional practices, similar surgery would require days of Percocet and antibiotics. Homeopathy, ozone, and natural rinses work great to stimulate the body to heal faster with less inflammation (which is what causes the pain).
Do you take kids as patients too?
Of course. We welcome patients of all ages. It is common for me to see various generations of the same family.
What age should parents bring their kids in for their first check up?
I like to see children between 2 and 3. I like to do the Canary scan which can detect decay without radiation. I also like to do a plaque analysis where we can evaluate the microbes and inflammation in the mouth. Both of these tests are simple and non-invasive.
What’s your best trick to prevent cavities in kids?
That is not a simple question. The canary scan can really drive the preventive program. Iodine varnish and ozone are two great tools to use. Of course, prevention truly starts with ideal hygiene including diet, sleep, sun, activity, and stress relief.
You use safe cleaning products in your dental office. Is it possible to achieve hospital level disinfection without the use of chemicals?
Absolutely. As a health care practitioner, I must uphold Health Canada standards. We are constantly running spore and microbial testing to ensure that our office is clean. Our enzyme based, WWF approved disinfectants, rate equal to, or better than the industry norm. To be honest, a little secret is that ozone water works even better with no toxicity at all. In the near future, ozone will be approved for disinfecting use. Currently, I maintain the approved protocol, yet augment with ozone as it just plain works better. Even Mt. Sinai hospital is starting to wipe down their antibiotic resistant infected rooms with ozone and hydrogen peroxide.
Do you ever feel grossed out working in people’s mouths all day?
Not really. My wife sometimes shudders and asks me that when we start to talk about what I do. I really get great joy out of seeing my patients improve their health. I even love to see them work with my nutritionist and ask me questions about my personal diet. Small plug for sprouted legumes, dehydrated crackers, and my dear friend kale.
Other than toothpaste, a toothbrush, and dental floss, what other products should we be using to maintain healthy teeth and gums?
I like to individualize my oral hygiene recommendations. It is truly patient specific depending on their oral microbes and gum pocketing.
I am a big fan of ozone oil either as toothpaste, or rubbed on the gums. I also like an iodine varnish to be used once every 2 months applied to teeth. This cuts the rate of decay by 50%.
But nothing replaces a healthy diet. An alkaline diet focusing on whole foods is key. Staying away from processed and refined foods, in addition to stimulants, and too many animal products, will always win the day. Of course, you have to be careful if you replace those items with too many carbohydrates. My diet focuses on greens and seeds.
Adequate sun, sleep, exercise, and water are also required to maintain vitality and reduce systemic inflammation or acidity.