Dr.Hauschka Med
Dr. med. dent. Hans Dieter Schwertfeger

Interview with anthroposophic dentist Dr. Hans Dieter Schwertfeger from Germany

Dr.Hauschka Med: We tend to ignore our teeth until they send us a painful reminder. And then we just treat the tooth that is giving us problems. Is this the right approach?

Dr. Hans Dieter Schwertfeger: The important thing is not to look at the teeth in isolation, because they are closely tied to our physical and emotional well-being. A toothache can point to a diseased organ or an emotional difficulty. This is why it is always important to talk to the patient and explore possible correlations to other problems. Solving them is a necessary part of healing the tooth.

It is often said that if teeth are kept clean, they'll stay healthy. But every one of us has been to the dentist at one time or another with caries or other complaints. Is our oral hygiene so poor?

Most dental disease really can be prevented by good oral hygiene. However, we must also recognise that the tooth is part of a larger organism, and its health therefore depends on the health of the whole person – for example on good nutrition.

What do I need to pay attention to when brushing my teeth?

It is important to use the right technique. You'll find tips here. Furthermore, you shouldn't get carried away with dental hygiene.

Do you mean it’s possible to brush your teeth too much?

In a certain sense, yes. Some people have thin tooth-bearing bones covered with thin mucosal tissue. When these individuals brush too hard, they can develop problems with receding gums. The often painful result is exposure of the tooth necks. In cases such as these, the patient should use a very soft toothbrush, special brushing method and mild toothpaste.

What do you recommend to prevent plaque?

The oral cavity is a microcosm containing a well-balanced population of microorganisms. You shouldn't regularly use an anti-bacterial mouthwash to fight plaque, because this destroys the delicate balance. A good naturopathic alternative is to use extracts of horse chestnut bark. They are amazingly effective in preventing plaque build-up.

Earlier you mentioned good nutrition. How important is this for healthy teeth?

Very – unhealthy eating habits can manifest themselves in gum diseases such as periodontitis, which is actually a metabolic disorder. But lack of a daily rhythm and eating too quickly can also have negative effects on the vitality of our entire body, and therefore on our teeth. The condition of our teeth is a reflection of how well we take care of our overall health.

Is it important to use toothpaste that contains fluoride?

That has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you have amalgam fillings in your mouth, for example, you should avoid toothpaste that contains fluoride because it can dissolve the mercury in the fillings. Too much fluoride isn’t good for children because it can cause the hardening of bones throughout the body, which can hinder healthy growth. On the other hand, I sometimes advise patients who have very soft teeth to use products that contain natural fluoride for a while – but then in a potentised form. In such cases I can also recommend preparations that contain extracts of horse chestnut bark. They are effective in maintaining a healthy balance in the saliva. The result is a better environment for the teeth, which become more stable and less prone to disease.