When a patient walks through the door at Stewart Wright’s Greenock-based surgery, he sees the person, not the problem.
This has been Stewart’s guiding principal over the past 20 years as he has researched and integrated a wide range of complementary therapies into this dentistry practice to develop a holistic approach to treating patients.
Stewart explained: “I don’t look at the teeth in isolation, but as a part of the total physiological system. The teeth are connected to the jaw bone which, in turn, is connected to the skull, and therefore the spine and the connection throughout the body goes on.”
Of course, he is not allowed to practice these therapies in the dental setting, but by using techniques learned from studying therapies such as CranioSacral therapy or THJ treatment, he said he is able to enhance his dentistry skills and practice by giving a more holistic diagnosis of a patient’s health.
“These therapies are not ‘up in the air’. There’s enormous research that shows why and how they work on the body’s system. I’ve spent a lot of time studying them and I use these learnings to make my dentistry better,” he added.
An extreme example of this is when Stewart treated a long-time patient who was complaining of a bleeding tooth. After a through examination and seeing no dental reason for the abscess, Stewart urged the man to see his GP…and get his prostate checked. The man was a bit shocked to hear this advice from his dentist, but he trusted Stewart so, when he told them that the problem was not related to his teeth, he took his advice. The man rang Stewart the next day to say that he was going into surgery to have the polyps removed that his doctor’s examination of his prostate had revealed!
Not everyone is comfortable when Stewart suggests employing a complementary therapy as part of an integrated approach to help a patient with their health issues. Stewart said: “I can generally sense if a patient will be amenable to an alternative way of treating their problems. I have found that people of all ages and backgrounds are accepting of this approach and are actually interested in learning more about the therapies.”
If the patient is interested, then Stewart reaches for his special box of ‘tricks’ containing illustrated skulls, jaw bones and teeth imprints which help to explain the therapies in a practical way to the layperson.
“I explain what therapy I believe will help them and allow them to make up their own minds. I certainly don’t pressure them – it’s just an option I offer,” he said.
Stewart qualified in dental surgery from Glasgow University in 1979 and became interested in an alternative approach to dentistry after attending a lecture by Harold Gelb in the late 1980s – one of the leading proponents of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction treatment.
His journey into the world of complementary therapies has led him to question everything – a philosophy that he feels is not encouraged in dentistry school.
He describes himself as an open-minded sceptic and has used this approach to analyse the therapies he has studied. He said: “I’ve read the books, studied the courses, looked at the research and questioned the science. I can see how and why they work. I don’t simply accept them or discard them at face value. If it makes sense, then I’m interested in finding out more.”
This questioning has led him into hot water with some of his profession – such as his deeply held belief that mercury in dental fillings has a detrimental impact on health.
Stewart had his own ‘Road to Damascus’ moment when he started suffering from numbness in his limbs that he thought was the onset of multiple sclerosis. His GP referred him to a consultant neurologist who, after many nerve and blood tests, told him he was suffering from idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
Stewart explained: “Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy isn’t a condition – it’s a description of symptoms. As they didn’t know how it occurred, I was no better off. I felt there had to be a specific reason for the problem so I started to look at the materials I was using at work. After much analysis and searching through medical literature I concluded that my significant daily exposure to mercury from working with mercury amalgam fillings was the source of my problems.
“I’ve been concerned about the damaging effects of mercury from dental amalgam filling for many years and for this reason have not used fillings containing mercury since the early 1990s.
While Stewart’s numbness rece-ded considerably when he stopped working with mercury, he had occasional relapses, though not as bad as before. That’s when he came across Field Control Therapy (FCT) and this approach has made enormous improvements to his health.
Stewart explained: “FCT understands that some of the body’s organs have been weakened by toxins such as mercury, which leaks from the dental fillings that most of us have.
“FCT can detect which organs are affected using a system of muscle testing and it then helps the body to release these toxins using a form of homeopathy. This form of homeopathy is also used to boost the particular organ as well as to bring the body in general back to health.
“I now view the numbness that crept into my life as almost a blessing in disguise. It was the symptom that alerted me to the fact that something was very wrong and let me to become aware of the affects of mercury on health.”
While the British Dental Health Foundation and the US Food and Drug Administration do not consi-der that the use of dental amalgam containing mercury poses a significant health risk, research in Canada led to the conclusion that up to two fillings in children and four fillings in adults would be fine – any more than this would be “an unacceptable risk to the health of the patient”.
Stewart takes a practical approach to the situation and offers his patients the option of the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Patients are often referred to him from the Berkeley Clinic in Glasgow where he practices on a part-time basis as part of their cosmetic treatment of teeth and substitution by ‘white’ fillings.
Stewart explained: “Ironically, it’s more dangerous to remove fillings by drilling than leaving them in the teeth as the mercury-containing particles will just get swallowed. Mercury vapour released from the filling as a result of the heat created by drilling can be inhaled by the practitioner.
“To remove the filling safely, you need to create a totally enclosed environment with a separate air supply, aspiration of the tooth core and careful removal of the filling material to avoid contamination of the patient and dentist.”
Through integrating complementary therapies into his diagnostic approach to patients’ health problems, Stewart believes he has become a better dentist.
“I believe the teeth are important elements in the body’s system and we, as dentists, have a very privileged part to play in improving people’s health. I know a lot of people will think I’m really far out here, but I get results and, more importantly, my patients can see them too,” he added.
He admits that the more he delves into new techniques and therapies, the more he is interested in passing on his knowledge – and not just in a dental-related environment.
“I’ve used Thought Field Therapy on autistic kids at a chiropractor’s practice with encouraging results. In fact, I’d love to open up a centre to focus on more of these other conditions. I tell you, this exciting journey never ends!”
Career file: Stewart Wright
- Qualified in dental surgery from Glasgow University in 1979.
- Runs the George Square Dental Centre in Greenock and is a consultant to the Berkeley Clinic in Glasgow.
- Describes himself as a holistic dental practitioner and has studied TMJ treatment, orthodontics, advanced restorative, orthopaedics, applied kinesiology, homeopathy and visceral manipulation.
- Has a Certification of Techniques in Upledger CranioSacral Therapy and teaches in this discipline. He is also a Licensed Associate of the Faculty of Homeopathy.
Some of the alternative therapies that Stewart uses in his dentistry practice…
TMJ is the commonly used acronym for temporomandibular joint disorder. The pain associated with TMJ is thought to be caused by displacement of the cartilage where the lower jaw connects to the skull, causing pressure and stretching of the assoc-iated sensory nerves. It is a generic term which encompasses a whole spectrum of diseases, derangements of the articulating elements in the joint, and injured or damaged tissues affecting the function of the joint.
Applied kinesiology (AK) is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person’s body is functioning. When properly applied, the outcome of an AK diagnosis will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Since AK draws together the core elements of many complementary therapies, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to health care.
Field Control Therapy
Field Control Therapy is a relatively new healthcare system that specifically addresses the illnesses of the 21st century. Modern lifestyle comes at a cost. Poor diet, increased exposure to radiation, environmental pollutants and toxic metals are creating a host of new health problems from chronic fatigue to immunodeficiency, autism and MS, to name a few. FCT identifies key toxins underlying illness and treats with ‘causative homeopathy’ to restore healthy cellular functioning.
Visceral manipulation involves the release of tension in the ligaments of the organs in the body. It is a gentle, but relatively deep tissue therapy with the entire emphasis on making sure that the organs move and glide freely. Frequently the cause of the lack of motion in the organs is due to severe trauma to the body (i.e. car accidents, falls, etc.).
CranioSacral therapy involves gently working with the spine and the skull to ease the restrictions of nerve passages, optimise the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord and restore misaligned bones to their proper position.
It is used to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and for chronic pain conditions.