Dr Jacques Imbeau – Integrative Dental Medicine

Dr Jacques Imbeau, an integrative dental and natural medicine practitioner, joins me today. He is one of New Zealand's leading integrative health practitioners, with a mindset that addressing oral health improves a person's general health and wellbeing. Jacques' approach is about working with each individual person to find the best treatment for them to improve their health and wellbeing.

Dr Jacques Imbeau – Integrative Dental Medicine Introduction

Oral health. Well, I include oral health or dental stress in my stress model. I’d do it for two reasons. One, as a dentist I feel qualified to talk about it and two, I included for anyone with the mouth who is interested in their health and has never fully connected the two. If you are not taking your oral health seriously, you should because your body already does.

Well, my guest today is Dr. Jacques Imbeau. Now Jacques is the Director of The Integrative Dental and Natural Health Centre in New Zealand where he practices as a dentist and a natural medicine practitioner with a specific interest in integrative dental and natural health.

He is one of New Zealand’s leading integrative dental medicine practitioners and is highly experienced in diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases with a mindset that it will inevitably have a flow-on effect in improving a person’s general health and well-being. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Dr. Jacques Imbeau.

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Hello and welcome to “Unstress”. I’m Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Oral health. Well, I include oral health or dental stress in my stress model. I’d do it for two reasons. One, as a dentist I feel qualified to talk about it and two, I included for anyone with the mouth who is interested in their health and has never fully connected the two. If you are not taking your oral health seriously, you should because your body already does.

Well, my guest today is Dr. Jacques Imbeau. Now Jacques is the Director of The Integrative Dental and Natural Health Centre in New Zealand where he practices as a dentist and a natural medicine practitioner with a specific interest in integrative dental and natural health.

He is one of New Zealand’s leading integrative dental medicine practitioners and is highly experienced in diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases with a mindset that it will inevitably have a flow-on effect in improving a person’s general health and well-being. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Dr. Jacques Imbeau. Welcome to the show Jacques.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Jacques it’s so good to be talking to a dentist and also a dentist with as many years’ experience as you. You describe your practice in New Zealand as an integrative practice. I wonder if you could share with our listener a little bit about what that means and your journey to get there.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, basically the integrative approach is a dynamic ongoing process bridging what people could call mainstream or conventional dental medicine with alternative or complementary dental medicine. It also looks at bridging other health modalities as well. So, it’s about basically working with each person to find the best approach whether it is conventional, complementary, alternatives in a whole person focus. So, it is holistic, but it is a process. So, it doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but it is certainly looking for them.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Now when we went through that wasn’t really… I mean we were so preoccupied with the mind you sure of what we do you know, the finickness and the technical challenges of which there are many and but where you’re at now is quite a journey. What prompted that change?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, basically you probably you’ve been through the same journey to some extent. You go to dental school and you’re told what you have to do and what we have to learn, and you need to do what you’re told because you will not graduate. Once you have graduated and then you become fully responsible for your choices and your actions you start to realise that every person that you treat doesn’t necessarily react the same way to the same treatment.

In other words, you are using a protocol that you’ve been told to use when have a diagnosis and then you follow the recommended protocol. Some patients respond quite well others not so well. So, you start to ask yourself what’s going on and then you look further, and you can discover that the lot of things that you were not taught at dental school. And some of those things are deemed controversial and then when you start to look into them you realise there’s a lot more to it than people think there is.

In other words, there is a controversy but not without cause and this leads you to make choices. You either choose the easy path and you simply continue to practice like you’ve been taught so you don’t have any you know, challenges in that regard. And when I say challenges I’m talking about your colleagues and the dental authorities or you decide to push further and say well, you know, I have to do what I feel is right and in some cases what you feel is right is not obviously what the mainstream practices are telling you, you should do.

And this is a process and then as you learn more and you find that actually every person is unique and this person will necessarily respond in the same way to the same treatment so you ask them to customise your approach to that person and you realise also that you’re not only treating the tooth but you’re treating a person with all the aspects and all the dimensions that entail.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: It’s just so appealing isn’t it to take the easy path? And actually, even the easy path is not an easy path because there are plenty of challenges in just taking that path as well. But this does take it to another level. I mean I think I’m sure you’ve experienced this and that is the more we learn the more we realise we have to learn.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. Now the easy path is not really the easy path and I said the easy path, it seems easier because we’re not pushing the envelope in a way, or you’re not let’s say doing anything that is controversial. However, in the end, basically, that change has to happen either you are at the forefront of the change or you’re going to have to catch up later on.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Let’s talk about some of those challenges that some of the rest of the profession and as you know not necessarily supportive of at this point in time. What are some of those challenges that you’ve encountered?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, basically the first one that has been a big issue as you know for a long time is the issue of mercury toxicity and dental amalgam. It’s still considered controversial. In my mind, there’s no controversy at all because the facts are quite obvious and that’s what we’re facing in many cases opinions based on someone or people doing things a certain way and not seeing the problems with what they’re doing and then you have to basically raise the issue when you have resistance to change.

However, you know, in my mind then amalgam is not a suitable metal material at all and it’s still being used which is sad there’s a lot of other challenges in fact and when you look at the big picture you realise that all of the things we do not only in dentistry but overall humanity a lot of the things that humanity does on this planet is not actually really… how could I say that? It’s not really in harmony with life.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Gosh, Jacque if that’s it that and that is probably the biggest understatement on environmental issues facing us you know, but it’s interesting isn’t it? Because I guess we would all agree that a good place to think about the environment is what’s going on in our own body, what we’re putting onto it and into it and that’s what makes this issue because I think for our listener I think most of my listeners would be aware that when we’re talking about dental amalgam… well, tell us about the composition of this material called dental amalgam.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yeah well, it’s basically 45 percent silver and the rest are other metals like the zinc, copper and there’s even in some cases cadmium and other trace metals that can be found. So, basically, it’s never been a suitable substance to implant in a tooth and that’s the problem with a lot of dental materials so not only dental amalgam, is that they are legally classified as devices rather than implants which they are. So, if they were classified as implants the regulations are much more stringent and a lot of materials would actually fail. It would not pass the test.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Isn’t that interesting? I mean I guess like a hearing aid is a device, isn’t it?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And so, they kind of consider a filling to be a device except it is permanently in place and you don’t take it out to wash your ears out or anything.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes, it is implanted in living tissue.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: The tooth is living tissue so once the substance is implanted it can leach inside the body basically. That’s what happens. So,  amalgam leach mercury in vapour form in the oral cavity, it also releases mercury inside the pulp and then inside the bloodstream.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, so it’s a two-way street. Now, you know, we were taught but let’s get back too little fuse now and we were taught it was there’s and I’ll say a few things about the way we were taught, and I get your response. Let’s say first of all mercury is locked into the filling it doesn’t respect. That’s what we were taught.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes, it is. It has this has never been true. This is a false statement and what’s interesting about truth is that what is true has always been true and will always be true. But what is deemed true and is false eventually will be demonstrated as false and this is a good example of a falsehood. In fact, the evidence is very clear that the mercury is not locked at all inside amalgam. It actually leeches all the time.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, and it there are certain things we do that makes that release more or less isn’t it?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes, of course grinding your teeth drinking hot fluids even brushing your teeth will actually increase the reason. Any form of energy applied to the ceiling would increase the mercury vapour release. But as you know after the 1970s when the evidence became overwhelming about the fact that mercury is not locked into the filling it has then been accepted since then that it does release mercury but then we were told that how well the amount is so small that it’s not really a problem.

Of course, again the issue is that it’s not because it’s a small amount that’s not a problem because in reality there is a cumulative effect. And this is also a problem with many other toxins we’re talking about sometimes a small amount of the toxic substance and this is underplayed because well, it’s such a small amount there’s never mentioned of the cumulative effect and also the combination of different toxins together is sometimes a lot more toxic. For example, mercury and lead together there is hundred times more toxic than mercury alone.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And the next thing that once the profession accepted that mercury did get released, they would have said look, there are various forms of mercury and the type of mercury that is released from a dental filling is inorganic and harmless.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: You may talk about elemental mercury. Metal mercury is not harmless of course. Yes, organic mercury-like metal mercury is much more toxic but at the same time elemental mercury is also toxic and studies have shown that when combined inside the body and becomes metal mercury.

For example, you have certain toxic compounds that will release from infected teeth called methyl mercaptan. These compounds can react with elemental mercury then you can get metal mercury.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: So, it’s not as simple as they want to say it is it’s a bit more complicated.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, because this methyl mercury is the bioactive kind of form and I think it’s interesting because you know, obviously microbes have a plural a role to play in converting this inorganic form to the methylated or more active forms. And we do have a few bacteria to deal with in our body, don’t we?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Exactly. And they’re an interesting topic as well because we tend to forget our dentists that mouth is part of the gastrointestinal system and we talk about a lot about people adding problems because of antibiotics and they have a disrupted gut flora which is called a dysbiosis.

But we tend to forget that when you are amalgam fillings each time you were chewing food, you’re impregnating your food with small amounts of metals like mercury, copper and silver and these metals are bactericidal. Therefore, it’s like adding a low dose antibiotic every day and this will significantly alter the gut flora which causes a range of problems.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, that’s a really, really good point. Thank you. That is a major issue as well isn’t it but what about I mean mercury at the look I know for you and it’s kind of a no-brainer but it almost is irritating to hear the professions still even defending it. I think it’s worth reminding our listener we do have to be a bit careful about how we deal with that. Well, what are some of the protocols that you follow in order to minimise people’s exposure?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. Well, you mean when you remove amalgam?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, clearly what I follow is the IAOMT recommended the protocols which are called a smart protocol for safe mercury amalgam removal technique. And this is a protocol that is designed to provide maximum protection for the patient and for the practitioners as well, right? So, it’s not about just the removal it’s about how to do it safely with minimal exposure to mercury vapour and how to actually also replace the filling materials with biocompatible dental materials.

So, there’s a process that has to be followed and this requires training of course and any dentist is actually trained to the more amalgam fillings. However, there we are not trained in dental school to remove amalgam fillings safely simply because we’re not told that amalgam fillings are a health risk. Of course, if that was the case, if we were have been told it was a health risk, I think it would not be in use today, right?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, particularly if it was pointed out that the occupational health and safety issue is a major one as much as the public health one.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. And this is where it’s problematic because if it is accepted that it’s a health risk and with all the consequences that come with it, it becomes a major legal issue.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I mean then it raises the issue of biocompatibility of dental materials. How do you determine the biocompatibility of a dental material?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well there’s the conventional way and the alternative way. The conventional way is based on using accepted published testing procedures that basically can be followed to establish what I call general biocompatibility and you can also, based on certain blood tests, determine individual biocompatibility. So, that’s the conventional way to do it and it’s not really quick, there is delays because of lab tests and the cost and so forth and then the alternative approach which is what I call the bioenergetic assessment. Which is based on a different approach which allows us to get a much faster level of information which can then be applied clinically?

The basis of course of bioenergetic testing is not taught also in dental school and what we do in clinical practices we select materials that have been tested by manufacturers according to those published standards, some manufacturers do that, so that we know that these materials have a good level of general biocompatibility to start with and then we assess individual that compatibility using that bioenergetic technique.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And what do you say to people let’s say okay well, mercury released from a filling is a problem I accept that. What about the issue of resins and the potential by you know, compatibility issues there? I mean the bisphenol.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes, basically all the materials have the potential to be a problem. Well, compatibility is not all or nothing it’s not only the material itself it’s also the patient you are using the material for because the patient itself will determine to some extent which materials are about compatible going out for that patient. Understand? And so, a lot of if for example, if you have a woman who has hormonal imbalances what we call estrogen dominance and this person ends up adding a lot of tooth-coloured materials that are made with a resin matrix called Bis-GMA which breakdown has Bisphenol A (BPA).

This is of course an hormonal disrupter then that source of BPA  will actually worsen or condition. Whereas if you were to do use the same material in for example a man who doesn’t have any issues with that, that would be less of a problem. So, it’s not just black and white.

However, my position is that we should always use the most biocompatible dental material possible for every patient because we don’t know what’s in the future of that patient. The patient can be very healthy today, but things can change and because it’s an implant it’s not easy to remove. So, because you expect the restoration, the filling, to stay there for a long time then you have to err on the side of safety.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Let’s take a step back because this is all about materials and the reason materials are important is because of tooth decay. Now I know you have this, you’ve talked about this hormonal control aspect of tooth decay. Can you tell our listener a little bit more about that?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Okay, well, this is all about the systemic theory of tooth decay. For a long time, of course, we’ve been told that tooth decay is because you’re eating too much sugary food and you’re not brushing your teeth well enough. Although you hear stories that people in a family, they eat the same thing, and some have more decay than others so it’s a bit more complicated than that, in fact, the systemic theory of tooth decay says that tooth decay is a manifestation of a systemic imbalance rather than simply a local problem.

And it is something that happens when there are changes inside or systemic changes which will lessen or weaken the tooth defences. What most people don’t realise of course, because the tooth is alive, it has a natural defence mechanism which is based on what we call dentinal fluid pressure. In other words, the tooth structure is porous and when the tooth is alive there is a pressure of fluid moving from inside the tooth towards the outside of the tooth.

It’s like a river flowing and this constant pressure not only flushes away waste and prevent external substances like toxins or acids or microorganisms from being able to penetrate the tooth but also it brings minerals into the tooth structure for remineralization and tooth repair. So, this mechanism works quite well normally in a lot of patients.

However, studies have shown that under certain circumstances this pressure will drop, right? So, of course what you eat is important because if you have a what we call a cariogenic diet which is typical high carb diet that we have in the western world, this will raise your blood glucose, of course, this has implications also with what is called insulin resistance which is basically the beginning of later on what can become diabetes.

And so, this is the third most common disease in the world diabetes but also as an impact on your teeth. Because what happens as your blood glucose increases it also causes different reactions in your body.

One of them, of course, is an increase in the production of free radicals and normally these radicals will be neutralised by what we call antioxidants, which are substances found in your food which will neutralise these radicals and prevent them from causing damage.

Now, what is interesting of course is that today a lot of people are deficient in antioxidants and one reason, of course, is because we’re exposed to a different range of different toxins including of course heavy metals like mercury. So, when you are constantly exposed to toxins you use up your antioxidants. This in turn, and this is not well understood yet but what happens is that it affects a control mechanism in your hypothalamus which normally signals the parotid gland to produce an hormone which is called the parotid hormone. The parotid hormone is what controls the production of dentinal fluid pressure if you wish.

So, when there’s a reduction in the parotid hormone production, the pressure, the dentinal fluid pressure in your tooth drops, right? And at the same time if you have this high carb diet , this cariogenic diet, of course you have a lot more bacterial growth, so you have an increased amount of plaque on your teeth producing acids and other substances which then are able to begin to penetrate the tooth because of this reduction in the defence of the tooth or the pressure that I just mentioned, you see?

So, it’s of course if you clean you teeth very well yeah well, we used to say a clean tooth doesn’t decay it’s true to us to a great extent. However, you still have these systemic changes which will cause problems in many ways. So, it’s not just the tooth decay.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, it’s so appealing always, isn’t it? That simple you eat sugar bacteria produce acid, acid makes a hole in the teeth. But as you are pointing out I mean this is nerve inside a tooth is creating a pressure which kind of washes the tooth you know in a sense. The movement is out.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: So the Miller, you talked about the Miller Theory. The Miller Theory is correct in the sense but it’s only partly correct in the sense that it’s only an incomplete explanation of the process, right? And of course, we realised then of course that tooth decay is not just a dental problem it’s simply a manifestation of actually a problem with glycaemic control , blood glucose and sugar levels. And it also is then tied to a lot of other health issues that people have, right?

And of course, if we suppress the dental manifestations, we select the other problems, right? So, this brings back the importance of balance and in fact, I always tell my patient that your symptoms or the signs are never the actual real problem. So, tooth decay is itself is not the real problem it’s simply the manifestation of something deeper than going on. And unless you fix that you still have a problem. Even if you are able to let’s say suppress the manifestation because that’s what conventional medicine does very well.

And of course, we have a lot of dental tools to suppress to decay. Like fluoride applications and so forth and so on this may work to some extent but basically, as you suppress the manifestations there are still problems which will manifest differently. You see what I mean?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Now some other thing a good example of that, for example, is cholesterol levels right so today this is very popular to give patients with high cholesterol a type of drugs called statins and they work. They work quite well because they will lower your cholesterol levels so that your GP will be happy as your blood levels are normal now. But you know that long-term studies have shown that people on statins actually have more, have a greater risk of heart attacks and more diabetes after 10 or 15 years of being on statins. Did you know that?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, look, this is our hope and opening up a whole other story which we’ve talked about before and I totally agree with you, you know, this approach of just focusing on the one thing misses the bigger picture.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And I mean I’ve often said if the hardest part of your body your tooth decays because of what you eat. Just imagine what’s going on in the rest of your body and you actually don’t have to.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Exactly, exactly. And you see this is quite interesting because I tell my patients to look the truth is the hardest substance inside your body. Even after thousands of years, this is the last body part that will actually break down. No, expose the elements no outside in the environment for a very, very long time. And we managed by what we do to destroy this tooth structure sometimes in a matter of years. It’s amazing.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah. So, I like this you know this is the work that was it’s been around for quite a long time. This idea that the carbohydrate balance affects hormone, a hormone in the parotid gland as you say and that affects fluid flow either out woods or inwards into the body. It’s a really elegant picture, isn’t it?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yeah.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah but not accepted but not widely accepted.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well,  look the research is there. And it’s not widely accepted because it doesn’t fit a certain paradigm because the bottom line is that the reality Ron is that if we really start to look at all the connections, right, and look at the big picture, we have to come to a conclusion that our way of life has to change significantly. And for our way of life to change significantly means that every human being has to change, right?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: The critical issue here is the inner change and this inner change is where the resistance is because if people really understood that it is their best interest to change, they would do it. Why don’t people change then? Why do they resist change? So, this change is not about only about dentistry. This change is about, it is a deep core change which is spiritual. And this has to happen but we’re fighting it. And that’s where the pain comes, from all the fighting, the resistance.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, well, let’s review you started by saying this is a reflection of environmental issues and things have to change environmentally I mean this is taking a step back from the mouth for a moment this is a great example of what the resistance to change is generally from authorities.

And one of the messages that I often talk about and that resonated you mean may know if a guard by the name of Allan Savory who I’ve had on my program. He’s very big on holistic management and he makes the point that big organisations are very slow to change because they’re slow to accept new information and they lack common sense and they often lack humanity. The change has to come from the ground up from you and me.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. Well, it’s basically the change has to come within each person. Now the big organisation that we have today are simply there because that’s what we collectively have chosen. The core issue has always been a spiritual one in a sense that the greatest problem is that today there is what I call a spiritual laziness in a sense and we hear a lot about people adding rights where we rarely hear about people having responsibilities.

It goes together, you see? It’s like I always tell the patient that the core issue has always been a spiritual one in a sense that the greatest problem is that today there is what I call a spiritual laziness in a sense and we hear a lot about people having rights where we rarely hear about people having responsibilities these go together see. It’s like I always tell patients that life is all about choices and each time you make a choice there are consequences and the consequences are yours then you have to accept them whether you like it or not.  33_04

So, in the dental field this is also true, right? We can blame dental professionals, but each individual has to make choices and that is also unavoidable, and it also means that each person is responsible for their health. You cannot give that responsibility to someone else.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I think one of the challenges for people making that choice is that expert opinion varies so greatly, doesn’t it?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well you know it’s interesting because we live in a world where everybody has an opinion. And of course, when you have an expert opinion it’s supposed to be of greater value. But in the end, you know as I told you before what is true as always been true and will always be true and if it’s not true it will eventually be proven false. If you look back at human history, it’s full of examples of false truths that we know today were false and people don’t question that.

However, it’s more complicated than that because even if we know something is true it doesn’t mean people will actually do it. And that is the interesting part of a lot a human being is that we want what we want and even if that doesn’t make sense or if it’s illogical we still want it, right?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, well, I thought I find this mercury issue intriguing on a few different levels. I mean it’s a subject that I know you and I have grappled with professionally at least 25 or 30 years ago and came to a conclusion which we kind of would have always reflected it as a no-brainer but it’s still an issue in people’s minds and people are very dismissive of it.

So, at the end of the day, I always think,look, putting aside the science if your dentist has said this is a load of rubbish, there’s no problem with mercury amalgam at all, I always say will last them what they do with the scrap. Ask them what you know when they’ve done the filling on you because there’s no problem doing it and they got a little bit left over, what do they do with the little bit left over? And it’s a rhetorical question because I know it’s against the law to put it in the garbage the toilet or down the sink.

The only safe place according to the dental profession to put this material is in a human being. And whether you agree with the science or not you’d have to say common sense tells me that may not be a good thing.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yeah, that the word here is common sense. But you know what common sense is? It’s also intuition and that is where the weakness is. Basically, I will quote Albert Einstein on this. Albert Einstein said the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant…..

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Hang on, say that again slowly.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Okay, the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift. In other words, we have become very intellectualised but in a way that is, let’s say, unbalanced. So, we put, a lot of decisions are made on the intellectual basis but at the same time the same intellect that pushes us to make and take certain actions will refuse facts if it doesn’t fit what we want, you understand?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: So, and people are being confused because they listen to a lot of different experts some people saying yes, some people saying no some people say maybe and they don’t know what to do. But in the end, they have within themselves the ability to know right from wrong. This is an intuitive process it’s not an intellectual one. And when you go to a dentist and this as well this amalgam stuff this is all baloney there’s no problem it’s very safe, right, intuitively you know it’s wrong. It’s like somebody tell your smoking is not a problem. You know it’s wrong because you’re putting a substance that’s not supposed to be inside your body so intuitively you don’t even need to understand why it’s wrong you just know it’s wrong.

However, we allow ourselves, well, we allow our intuitive sensing to be pushed aside and to be basically convinced by intellectual arguments or constructs that are more or less, you know valid and eventually are proven to be wrong. Like yes, you said before we’re told in dental school that mercury was captive in the filling. So, either you accept that and then you go on or you don’t accept it. It’s true or it’s not true it cannot be both and we know today it’s not true.

So, every colleague who says he accepts this without asking any question he made a choice and there are consequences to choices and the consequences are that then you will keep doing something which has repercussions not only for you but for your patients.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Now then let’s just move on here because I think the mercury issue you know you know there’s an interesting one not just because of its ubiquitous nature, it’s so common it’s in so many people but the way the profession deals with and I think it’s an interesting example of how far we still have to go when linking environment and health together.

But back to the mouth, I mean infections are another issue and there’s been a lot of publicity about the link between gum disease and tooth decay and systemic health. Can you share with our listener why that’s so important?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, before we go there let me tell you that dental infections are a consequence of the same problem we discussed before. In many cases, it starts with tooth decay, but tooth decay is an imbalance, a systemic imbalance a manifestation of a systemic imbalance which is related to yes, diet, exposure to toxins, lack of antioxidants and there’s a lot of ramifications or repercussions to that.

And of course, tooth decay is one of those things and the dental profession is quite good at slowing it down and blocking it and trying to suppress it. Of course, a tooth that has had extensive tooth decay is much more likely to experience a dental infection, as you know the decay can cause an infection or eventually after repetitive fillings you have a lot of fillings that are getting deeper and deeper that the pulp may die. There are other factors in the fact that will affect the blood flow in the pulp which are systemic factors as well. So, this is a bit more complicated but it’s not just a dental thing.

In other words, you can have two individuals with the same amount of tooth decay. One the pulp will become infected and die the other one not. So, there are differences in those two individuals in our systemic response to the local microbial attack.

So, once you have an infection, of course, things get worse and of course the dental profession again has come up with a way to block or let’s say delay to some extent the effects of the infection so we have different treatments like endodontic therapy – root canals and so forth and antibiotics and all these things work to some extent but they simply don’t fix the problem. What they do is frequently they just convert an acute problem into a chronic one which fester’s into the patient’s body.

And this also become a contributor to overall health issues later on. So, dental infections have been linked to a lot of systemic health issues, musculoskeletal problems, joint problems, cardiovascular problems, coagulability and so on and so forth. So, basically again it’s another source of toxins – you have microbial toxins which then add up to the overall toxic exposure of the patient which makes the antioxidant deficiency even worse so it’s a vicious cycle.

In fact, in the United States the Centre for Disease Control in about 2010, they did a bio monitoring survey and found that in the United States an average American citizen actually has about two hundred and twelve different chemicals in the body, including of course heavy metals: mercury, lead, cadmium, pesticide, herbicide residues and glyphosate being the major ones. And of even in the United States a compound called perchlorate which you use to make rocket fuel.

So, people are becoming internally polluted to the extent that this is causing damage and opening up a range of manifestations that we call diseases. So, we put a label on the disease and we said well this is a treatment but in many cases the treatment is treating simply the localised manifestation of the disease process while the disease process itself continues.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I mean it’s got to the point now where it’s not a question of really is an individual affected by toxins because that’s kind of its ubiquitous, every single person has chemicals in their body. The question is having you exceeded the physiological limit where that becomes obvious?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. The question is what do you call obvious? The thing also is that yes today people have become, we have become more out of touch with our body than ever. In other words, we see symptoms as something bad that needs to be eradicated instead of understanding that our symptoms are simply a way for our body to try to communicate information to us and that actually we need to listen to what those symptoms mean so we can take corrective measures.

Not telling our body shut up! stop bothering me I’m busy right? So, in other words, people don’t want symptoms because they don’t like them. They want to be able to continue to do whatever they want to do even if it’s wrong even if their body is telling them it’s wrong. And then what they want is give me some thing so I can get rid of my symptoms, so I can keep doing what I like to do.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, I mean you know this is a fundamental issue for every one of us because all the us are patients too and that is you know often say if the only thing you know about your health is your doctor’s phone number. That’s one extreme and the other extreme is to say no, I am going to take control of every aspect of my health and do the best I can and that perhaps the other extreme. And we all lie on a spectrum somewhere in between those.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes, it’s a learning process but that’s also what I said: the integrity process is a dynamic ongoing process because clearly, we have a lot of work to do. First of all on ourselves because that’s where the change has to start. Each of us we have to change ourselves before we can ask others to change. And that change has to happen at a deep level and of course, it’s a process it’s not easy because if it was easy, we would have done it already. And the fact is that the day we accept that when we’re getting adverse consequences this is actually designed to help us you know make those changes and get back what I call on the right track. Then it’s already half the battle that is won.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Now, Jacques I know you’re going to be in Australia in November for the Australasian holistic dental summit. I’m going to be there as well I’m emceeing the event and I’m really looking forward to your presentations but this is probably a good opportunity because we could obviously spend quite a few hours just chatting about all those dental issues but for our listener now, if they’ve kind of accepted that yes, look, these issues that are going on in my mouth are important and they’re reflecting of systemic thing and I’m going to take control. What would be a couple of hints 1 2 3 4 5 hints that you might give our listener who’s saying hey, I get it, what should I be doing?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Well, the first thing is that people have to really stop doing what they’ve been doing in the past which is, of course, causing problems. So, if they add in the past, they have to ask themselves what they have been doing, what was their diet, what was their oral hygiene habits and so forth. So, they have to change those things. Very simply: if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’re not going to get a different result, right, so when you have an adverse consequence the first thing you say well why is that happening? And then once you find why you have to change that. So, diet is important of course oral hygiene habits are important but also stop just going to your dentist and allowing your dentist to choose whatever material they want without asking your input.

So, don’t get more amalgams put in if you have an amalgam. So, you have to stop that to begin with. And then you have to ask well if amalgam is not a good material what is a good material. So, have a discussion with your dentist and see what information you’re getting. If you’re not satisfied, if it doesn’t intuitively feel correct, then don’t go ahead with it. So, you have to become more responsible you have to rely more on your ability to distinguish right from wrong. And that ability you won’t find on the internet you won’t be able to google it, okay? This is something you have to develop, you have to nurture, you have to trust it inside you.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And tell me just briefly because I know I’m going to hear this and we’re going to have an opportunity to talk at the at the conference anyway, where are you on the root canal issue? All root canals must come out or what are your thoughts?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: NO. I’m always against these… it’s like the statement amalgam causes everything. These are blanket statements. They’re too generalised to be true. So, they problem with root canals is it’s our lack of ability to completely disinfect or sterilise a tooth. If we are able to do that then the tooth becomes basically a calcium-based implant.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I love that term. Hang on, let me write that down – A calcium-based implant.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: So, if you have a calcium base implant it’s actually better than a titanium or the zirconia-based implant because you have a ligament and it’s functional. So, that’s the challenge. I see that as a challenge and of course sadly a lot of conventionally done root canals are still infected – there is a residual infection. So, that’s a problem. So, with better technology we are able to get better results it’s about informed consent and about making choices and says well okay this the situation what can we expect we can if our prognosis is good then if the patient wants to go that route let’s do it.

So, there are consequences also to removing teeth. You have to look at both side of the issue. And saying all roots canals are bad is like throwing the baby with the water. And at the same time saying roots canals are fine is also…

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Oversimplification because this is back to this issue about the porous nature of teeth and this fluid movement in a healthy individual the pressure of the nerve and the fluid that is inside pushes the fluid out through the porous dentine bathing the tooth and preventing acid from coming in and demineralizing it. But then that porosities presents a challenge when we come to remove an infected nerve because how do we effectively penetrate that porosity. And your response to that is well, ozone I know is one thing you’re very keen on.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: No, I don’t actually use ozone. I don’t have a problem with ozone. This is something that I would probably include in my practice if I could get around to doing it. The fact is that I do so many things that you cannot do everything.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Sounds familiar.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: The approach I have I’m quite happy with. My success rate is probably around 75 to 80% and you know,  I think it’s a good improvement compared to conventional therapy. And we keep working at it getting things to improve even more and the bottom line is that all treatments have a success rate – there’s nothing that’s hundred percent effective.

We want to have something ideally that has a 90% success rate plus and sadly root canals, even with improved protocols, it’s not there yet.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And success is measured by the complete resolution of the area of infection, at the tip and around….

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Success is absence of infection. In other words, even if the x-ray is normal that’s not proof of success. Basically, success is when there is no detectable bioenergetic imbalance.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Right. So, you would use again as you use this bioenergetic approach to determine the biocompatibility of a material you would use that also to determine whether this tooth was compromising a person’s health or not.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: You do all the other things of course so, you want to have a completely normal x-ray you want to see a sign of healing, osteogenesis and so forth. So, you want all those things, but you don’t stop there. I want to go one step further and basically, you take into account also the condition of the patient. If I have a patient who has been diagnosed with cancer, I’m not going to recommend a root canal treatment.

Again, it’s about having an individual treatment protocol for that patient instead of treating everybody the same.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, now that that’s very good, that’s very good. And of course, we spoke just recently to Dr. Thomas Levy I don’t know whether you’re familiar with him.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. I know Thomas Levy.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah and so he was, of course, talking about there is no such thing as a safe root canal and that everybody should be having a cone beam x-ray taken read by a radiologist. Is that cone beam being the 3d x-ray? Is that what you’re using to determine the healing?

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. Well, I use a conventional x-ray I use convincing CBCT as well yeah, of course, I’ll do that but again the CBCT itself is not the complete final answer but it’s certainly much better than conventional 2d x-rays because you see the full bone volume. I have cases for example where conventional x-rays show nothing and you take a CBCT  and you see a nice lesion that is completely you know either on the buccal or lingual of the root.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, yeah, it’s very sobering. Yes, it very confronting.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Yes. Again, what I’m saying is that you have to use more, a range of modalities. So, the advice I give dentists who want to follow the path we’re on: I say you have to be an excellent mainstream dentist to begin with. So, you have to tick all the dots and cross all the t’s and then you have to do everything else. So, you have to do more than what mainstream dentists will do because if you don’t do what the mainstream dentist does then they’ll fault you. So, you have to do all that well plus everything else, so you have to go the extra step. So, it’s not easy.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: And I mean technically doesn’t matter whether you are a mainstream dentist or an integrative dentist or a holistic dentist does not matter. Dentistry, the work that the dentist does, is extremely challenging and demanding. So, you’ve got to tick that box no matter what your approach is.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: And the fact is that it is challenging because of the choices we’ve made as a species, as a society. We end up having to deal with a lot of manifestations that are avoidable, and we keep having to do that because we keep doing the very things that are causing those manifestations because we don’t change. People don’t seem to get it that that change will happen sooner or later. And the longer we delay the change, the more damage there is. And all we’re doing is trying to basically help the patient deal with the damage, trying to reverse it as much as we can while through that process helping the person change.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Okay, now listen just before we finish because I wanted to ask you one last question. Taking a step back from your role as a dentist yeah because as I said we’re all on this health journey together what do you think the biggest challenge is for people in our modern world on our health journey through life?

The Biggest Health Challenge

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: The biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is to basically what personally I feel is cutting out all the crap that is going on out there. We’re bombarded with misinformation. It’s very popular today, they call that fake news. Everybody has an opinion of course and it’s not because someone has an opinion that that person is really well informed of course.

So, you have to, as I said before, we have to be able to cut that out and then go back to the basics and the basic is very simple: is that we need to be able to find a safe quiet space and focus inwards and ask for guidance to get the correct answer for us in the situation. And that I know today it’s very popular: people look at Google and they look at the Internet and there’s a huge amount of information. It is very confusing, and the more people look at it the more confusing it is, the less they are able to make a decision.

So, that’s the biggest challenge and this challenge is there because as I said before this is something we have neglected, and this intuitive ability is weaker than it should be. And we always have to avoid falling back on the intellectual process which is basically: we go to school, we are taught intellectually, it’s very intellectually driven and as dentists, of course, this is part of our training and we tend to go back to that automatically and we have to resist it and first say well, let’s take a break, stop trying to break everything down and try to intellectualise it and just feel what is right and then pursue that.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Jacques thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been terrific we raised some great issues. I’m going to have links to your website because you’ve got a wealth and information on there and I’m really looking forward to catching up with you in Australia on that weekend of the 17th and 18th of November.

Dr. Jacques Imbeau: Very good. It was nice talking to you.


Dr. Ron Ehrlich: You know, a recurring theme I’ve been hearing lately is that avoidance is an important part of health. When it comes to environmental stresses or toxins it’s the best alternative to the toxic load, we are all subject to. But it also is important when it comes to our health.

Now if what we are doing is causing say the hardest part of our body, teeth to decay will become infected, fix it, by all means, visit a dentist but find out what’s causing it in the first place and avoid it.

Now the concept of fluid flow through a tooth is an interesting one and not just for dentists, it’s interesting for anybody with a tooth and it’s been researched since the late 70s most of it coming out of Loma Linda University in California. When the diet affects hormones which it does, we know it affects fat storage blood sugar insulin levels. And as we’ve heard some from some of our other podcasts, they are common denominators in many health problems but there are other hormones which in turn affect fluid flow through a tooth.

Jacque reminded us a tooth is porous and if the bathing effect of fluid is in an outward direction that’s a good thing but if it goes the other way and draws acid from the plaque into the tooth well, then decay may follow.

People think of teeth is really harder than they are. There’s an outer layer of enamel which is really hard it’s crystalline in structure it’s what gives it its strength but under enamel is dentine which is much softer, and it’s made up of millions of tubules filled with fluid. That’s why when the root of your tooth is exposed, and you draw in the air those little tubules start to cause some sensitivity of teeth.

It also is what gives teeth some flexibility. And right inside the tooth is the pulp which is made up of blood vessels and nerves. Now in kids the pulp is huge but as the tooth grows as we get older the pulp in the tooth gets smaller, but it keeps the tooth bathed in this fluid. So, there’s a lot going on there with a lot of challenges as Jacques pointed out.

Look one big myth is that if you don’t have any pain your oral health is fine – Wrong. After 40 years in practice, I can tell you that over 90% of oral disease that includes tooth decay, gum disease or even worse oral cancer have absolutely no pain associated with it. So, take your oral health seriously. Believe me, your body already does.

Jacques is part of the Australasian holistic dental summit in Sydney from the 17th to the 18th of November which I am also emceeing and presenting out. It should be a great event for all health professionals. Now I’ve mentioned before that I do think the oral cavity; oral health is the black hole of health care and that’s because almost all health practitioners know very little about what’s going on in the mouth. And a lot of dental practitioners are so focused on the minutiae of what we do quite rightly so that it’s easy to forget there’s a whole person attached to the tooth. So, it should be a great event.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.