Rather than focusing solely on your teeth, gums, and jaw, holistic dentists treat the entire body. Jay Harris Levy, DDS, has been practicing in Portland for eight years.  

How is holistic dentistry different from conventional dentistry?  The mouth is an oral ecosystem. It is made up of factors of force—how hard you bite—but also what you eat. So when you eat processed, refined foods, there is residue in the mouth, which causes bacteria to grow that causes acids, gum and tooth decay. So the first thing I do is start talking about food and nutrition.

What kind of fillings do you use?  Composite, and occasionally I use “DiamondLite.” Gold is a good restoration, and porcelain is good but it’s brittle. Everything has some toxicity, but amalgam fillings are the most toxic. They go in your mouth at 50 percent mercury, and when you take them out it’s 20 percent mercury. You’ve eaten the difference. Yet the American Dental Association (ADA), which is a lobbying organization, says it’s OK to do amalgams, that they are safe and effective.

Should Portland fluoridate its drinking water?  The studies that exist aren’t well designed. Most dentists say, “That’s what the ADA says and you gotta use it.” Personally, my take is that fluoride is quite toxic and we get too much of it from the environment. I encourage diet and nutrition.  

What’s your advice for good dental hygiene?  I don’t care if a patient is vegan or on the paleo diet—there are three basic rules: eat whole foods, eat only three meals a day, and drink only water between meals. You need fasting periods throughout the day so food residues can be washed out of your mouth by saliva and the bacterial load goes down. You are fueling the fire if you eat again in an hour—especially if you eat refined foods. For millions of years, our ancestors did not get tooth decay—and they did not floss and they did not brush.  511 SW 10th Ave, Suite 1102;  503-222-2157; jayharrislevy.com