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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Leading the Way in Holistic Dentistry

Feb 28, 2012 01:37PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Today’s savvy dental patient expects an education from their dental professional on the connection between oral health and their state of overall wellness. Eager to play an active, rather than passive role in their dental care, a new generation of patients is moving beyond the 50’s era “Look Mom, no cavities” model to embrace the more holistic oral/body paradigm practiced by Carey O’Rielly, DDS, owner of Integrative Dental Practice in Encinitas. Patiently waiting and preparing for a paradigm shift to holistic dentistry since 1993, Dr. O’Rielly couldn’t be happier.

A dental visionary whose health conscious parents gifted him early on with their orientation, Dr. O’Rielly recalls that his adolescent interest in health and science laid a solid foundation for his career. After receiving an undergraduate degree in 1980 from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, he received a D.D.S. from University of Southern California’s Ostrow School of Dentistry in Los Angeles in 1984.

He began by practicing traditional dentistry and eventually bought and sold 10 different dental practices. Feeling burned out from the stress associated with buying, building up, and selling so many businesses, Dr. O’Rielly initially attributed the onset of heart palpitations to such ambitious endeavors.  “Because I was a marathon runner and in good physical condition, I wondered deep down inside how I could have had heart problems,” he says. 

Although stress does tax the immune system, it was the toxicity of his professional environment that was the underlying cause of his health issues.  Exposure to chemicals used to sterilize instruments and ongoing exposure to mercury while filling and removing amalgam from teeth are hazards that can impact any dental professional. “Over a period of 15 years, it was the cumulative impact of the mercury and chemical exposure that eventually affected my health,” Dr. O’Rielly explains.

“I enjoy spending one-on-one time with my patients, to show them what they need to do to have a healthy mouth,”

Removal of his own mercury fillings, good nutrition, detox programs and homeopathics were what restored his health and cleansed his body of metal and chemicals. “When my body was clean, I felt the difference….After taking a few months off, when I returned to practice I was lightheaded and could feel my fingertips tingling when I worked on mercury fillings,” he remembers. “I recognized then that I had to protect myself as well as my patients by practicing mercury-free dentistry.”

Initially Dr. O’Rielly had to do his own research to educate himself in the holistic approach to bio-compatible and cosmetic dentistry. The dental industry was still steeped in the status

Cary O’Rielly, DDS
Cary O’Rielly, DDS
quo of an old paradigm that is now slowly changing. Today, he’s on the leading edge of dentistry and using one of his favorite tools—the microscope—to project images onto a big-screen, high-definition monitor in order to educate patients. This gives them a clear picture of the harmful microscopic organisms living on plaque and under the gums. “I take a little of the white film from their teeth and put it on a glass slide. The enlarged image on the screen lets them look at the bacteria colonizing as plaque,” says Dr. O’Reilly.

He further explains that the bacteria will eventually colonize beneath the gums. Being anaerobic, bacteria can survive the absence of oxygen and even flourish in an acidic environment. This can cause inflammation and stress the immune system, becoming even more problematic when it enters the bloodstream.

Along with meticulous restorative, cosmetic and preventive dental care, education is the focus of his practice, where he sees just one patient at a time.  He appreciates how rewarding the results are, both for himself and his patients.  “I enjoy spending one-on-one time with my patients, to show them what they need to do to have a healthy mouth,” notes Dr. O’Rielly. “As a result, their increased attention to home care makes the office visits and treatments go much better.”

“My interest in dentistry was the result of my childhood love of health, biology and the microscope, which allowed me to see an otherwise invisible word,” reflects Dr. O’Rielly. “I’ve come full circle because the microscope evaluation is now the cornerstone of my practice, which benefits my patient’s whole well-being.”

Integrative Dental Practice, 4403 Manchester Ave., Ste. 206-B; Encinitas 92024; Call 760-632-130 or visit

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