A Holistic Approach
John Roeder, D.M.D., treats each patient’s mouth as a gateway to whole-body health
by Margaret Johnson

Not many people are familiar with the term “oral systemic connection,” but at the office of John Roeder, D.M.D., this term is at the forefront of all of his treatment. That is because Dr. Roeder treats a patient’s mouth as the gatekeeper to overall health.

Dr. Roeder, who earned his D.M.D. from Temple University’s School of Dentistry, went on to earn an advanced Doctor of Integrative Medicine degree from Capital University of Integrative Medicine. In addition, he is a member of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and has completed the core curriculum at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.

Like the oral systemic connection, otherwise known as the link between the health of the mouth and the health of the whole body, not many are familiar with just what integrative medicine is. Dr. Roeder explains that this field includes alternate therapies such as bio-energetic evaluation, homeopathy and compatibility testing.

Dr. Roeder, who started his career in environmental consulting, attended dental school at the age of 27 after realizing his vocation left him without the humanistic connection he sought. This desire to help others has led him into a career as one of the region’s leading biological dentists.

“Eighty percent of disease symptoms relate back to problems in the mouth,” Dr. Roeder says. This staggering figure explains why Dr. Roeder approaches dentistry as he does, uniquely, and by assessing the whole body. A biological dentist, Dr. Roeder explains, looks closely at the science involved in dentistry, taking special care to note the fact that the procedures and materials a dentist uses have the capability of impacting a patient’s overall health.

“As humans, we’re basically one whole organism,” he says. “There are no barriers in the human body.”

For this reason, Dr. Roeder takes extraordinary care regarding any procedures, or any materials he uses, as the mouth directly links to other areas of the body including the heart, liver and brain. For example, Dr. Roeder minimizes radiation exposure by utilizing state-of-the-art 3-D cone beam imaging technology, versus traditional X-rays.

Dr. Roeder’s office uses only nontoxic materials and does not use fluoride, which, he explains, “comes mostly from hazardous industrial waste from phosphate fertilization plants.” Fluoride toxicity has also been linked to impaired neurological development.

With each patient, assessments are performed at the outset to check for underlying issues. One such problem is gum infection, which, he notes, “is often glossed over.”

Individuals may think bleeding gums are simply the result of brushing or flossing with too much force, but the symptom can be an indicator of another problem, such as inflammation or a chronic illness.

“Periodontal infection is a constant battle,” he says. “It’s probably one of the most prevalent diseases known to mankind.”

Dr. Roeder explains that infections are often caused by bacteria that have become chronic in nature, causing gum tissue to become very vascularized. “Consequently, gums bleed easier and bacteria spread to the rest of the body,” he says. “Bacteria in the mouth can spread to the brain, heart … and it all starts right in the mouth.”

In an effort to prevent such situations, Dr. Roeder’s office takes bacterial slide samples from each patient’s mouth with each cleaning in order to survey and assess what they are up against. These saliva samples give Dr. Roeder’s team an edge and allow each patient to receive individualized treatment tailored to his or her specific oral health needs.

Further efforts to minimize bacteria are bolstered by Dr. Roeder’s use of the naturally occurring gas known as ozone. “It is an extremely potent therapy to destroy pathogens,” he says. “Not just bacteria but also viruses, parasites, fungus—anything that is essentially going to have a destructive process on the body—ozone can be a very good means to eliminate that.”

Ozone, he notes, can be used in a gaseous state to destroy pathogens persisting in the surrounding bone after an extraction. Ozone can also be dissolved into water and used to curb the bacterial presence in a patient’s mouth before any other routine procedure. In some cases, Dr. Roeder says, ozone can be used to reverse the cavity process and assist in the remineralization of tooth enamel.

Another means by which oral health affects the health of the overall body has to do with bite alignment and temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMJ. “When a patient has a bite out of alignment or an inflamed joint, that creates structural stresses all over the body,” he notes. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment where those stresses are eliminated as much as possible.”

One major component of Dr. Roeder’s approach has to do with fillings—namely, his avoidance of the highly toxic mercury used in many procedures of old.

“The ADA [American Dental Association] has a very strong position that mercury fillings are fine,” he says. “The problem is, evidence that mercury fillings are not so fine is so overwhelming that it’s becoming difficult to ignore.”

Not only is the material toxic, but, Dr. Roeder explains, the material expands with heat and contracts with cold temperatures—“this is why mercury was the material of choice for thermometers,” he notes—but over time, this can lead to fractures and breakage in teeth.

Dr. Roeder says many medical doctors in the region have actually referred patients to him when other courses of treatment have failed to address the patients’ medical concerns. “Our primary source of patients is from doctors and other medical practitioners—more enlightened medical practitioners,” he says, noting he sees patients suffering from all sorts of immunological and chronic illnesses.

One way Dr. Roeder’s office detoxifies patients’ mouths is by removing and replacing traditional mercury fillings, offering instead non-BPA composite resin fillings. Liz Matthews, an expanded function dental assistant who has been with the practice since 1974, says she hears two things often from patients who’ve had their mercury fillings removed and replaced. “One, ‘I have more energy,’ and two, ‘My brain fog went away,’” she says. “People just start feeling more energetic. I hear a lot that people just feel better in general.”

“Our goal, a lot of times, is to get patients motivated to remove fillings before they hurt or break,” Dr. Roeder adds. “Most people don’t choose to go to the dentist until they absolutely have to—if they’re in pain or something broke—but a lot of times that’s too late. It can become very expensive and time consuming, and we can eliminate that by looking at these [issues] critically.”

Prospective patients interested in speaking with Dr. Roeder directly to discuss a specific concern can contact him directly, Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at 610-647-7272. 

John Roeder, D.M.D.
45 Darby Road
Paoli, PA 19301

Photograph by Jody Robinson