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The Big Switch. A local dentist embraces holistic dentistry.
Nearly two years ago, Dr. Carla Yamashiro closed her conventional dental practice and reopened a new one named Ecologic Dentistry. This move was the culmination of years of learning, as she implemented increasingly holistic practices and moved ever closer to a more integrative understanding of dentistry.
Dr. Yamashiro was born in the small town of Hilo, Hawaii, and says she always felt drawn to dentistry.
“It was working with my hands,” Dr. Yamashiro explains, noting that she loves the art of dentistry, especially with her focus on what she refers to as “new paradigm medicine.” She has always worked with her hands, in some form or another: Dr. Yamashiro completed a degree in music education, along with a certificate in shiatsu massage, before deciding to become a dental assistant and get some experience to find out if dentistry was truly her calling. Her experiment was quickly resolved: she loved dentistry. She graduated as a dentist from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and opened a conventional dental practice in Bonney Lake, located south of Seattle. As time passed, she kept learning about quantum science and new paradigm medicine, which represented a significant shift from the “drill and fill” mentality she had been taught in dental school.
“Finally it got to the point where I needed to get my degree in naturopathic medicine, to be able to really incorporate, integrate and transform conventional dentistry to a true holistic practice,” Dr. Yamashiro explains. She went to school again, and became a board certified naturopathic physician. Dr. Yamashiro is careful to note that she does not practice medicine, but that her naturopathic training informs her evolving holistic dental practice.
“We already had been transitioning, so we didn’t need much new equipment,” Dr. Yamashiro says, explaining her decision to close one practice and open another. “We’d been using things like ozone for years at that point, as part of the transition into holistic practice.”
Far from being the step-child of medical practice, Dr. Yamashiro sees dentistry as a critical component of health.
“Everything is connected, so when the tooth isn’t preserved, you can throw off the entire system,” she says. “Everything begins with what goes into our mouth – it’s the portal to the rest of our body. We have to be very conscious about what we put in it, and that includes what kind of dental materials as well,” she continues.
Dr. Yamashiro says she has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to the latest equipment and techniques, so closing her doors meant a remodel with sustainable and low-toxic paints, a name change so prospective patients could find her, new protocols and procedures, and then finally opening the doors on a new chapter as a holistic dentist.
In her practice at Ecologic Dentistry, Dr. Yamashiro says she strives to offer the very best of both worlds–the most modern advances in dentistry combined with new paradigm medicine and the understanding that frequency and energy connects the teeth to the rest of the body.
“Every tooth is associated with a meridian, and has a direct relationship with some part of the body,” Dr. Yamashiro explains, describing the meridian system as outlined in Chinese medicine principles. “We’re not just drilling and filling anymore, but looking at how what we do can contribute to or perpetuate the disease process.”
Along with a focus on holistic health, Dr. Yamashiro also wants her patients to be enabled to make informed decisions.
“I get people asking all the time what I feel about mercury, flouride and root canals,” she explains. “Basically, I see my role as a dentist to be also an educator. My job really is to give you the information, give you the whole spectrum, and really have the patient decide for themselves. Truly, everyone knows what is best for them–call it a gut feeling, or whatever it is, but our intelligence knows what is good for us and what is not good for us.”
Dr. Yamashiro notes that every patient has different needs, and she tries to be sensitive to them.
“It’s not a cookie cutter practice,” she says. “It’s very individualized, and I feel it’s really important to have the patient involved in their own healing process, and the best way to make those decisions is with good information.”
At the end of the day, Dr. Yamashiro is both energized and excited by her continued exploration in natural dentistry.
“It’s extremely rewarding because we only know what we’ve been taught in dental school, and most of us went to dental school a long time ago,” she says. “Dentistry as a profession is pretty archaic, and hasn’t changed very much. This is why I’m always open and always listening, because I don’t know what I don’t know. The patients know what is happening in their body way more than I do.”
Download a pdf of the article: The Ecolologic Dentist Bonney Lake – Seattle Natural Awakenings