Originally Published: August 3, 2016 6 a.m.
Prescott Valley home designer Tina Woods bit into a potato chip on Easter 2012 and lost two teeth.
Prior to that time, Woods was vigilant about her dental care, never missing a checkup and doing whatever she could to care for her teeth and gums between visits. Still, her molars crumbled. Her longtime dentist diagnosed it as a hereditary issue, and worked to salvage what he could with filing compounds.
Then she lost three more molars on the top left side of the mouth.
“I was just devastated,” she said of the chronic, and continuing, teeth loss.
Unsatisfied with the painful, and expensive, option of dentures, the 49-year-old was referred by a friend to Prescott dentist Dr. Jason Campbell, founder of the now 4-year-old Advanced Prosthetics Institute on Willow Creek Road.
In him, she found a kindred spirit.
Campbell is a dental practitioner with the professional acumen to spare her further loss of teeth who also knows from personal experience the agony and expense that comes from chronic and complex dental health ailments and lost teeth.
At age 27, while still in dental school, Campbell underwent a full dental reconstruction. Two of Campbell’s five children suffer with his genetic trait of missing teeth that require reconstructive surgery.
“If I had not gone to him, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Woods who over the course of about 18 months underwent reconstruction surgery that enabled her to keep her teeth. The cost was about $16,000; she was quoted more than $25,000 to have her teeth replaced with dentures. “He was a life saver.”
Campbell’s 12-year practice is oriented around helping patients with serious dental ailments – he has coined the term “biofunctional disorder” – that go far beyond what can be managed through proper hygiene. Not only has he been trained to find prosthetic solutions that enable them to keep as many as their own teeth as possible, and perform required surgical reconstruction, Campbell traces the root of the problem so as to provide proper dental and medical treatment.
“If we can catch small problems early, then we can avoid the bigger issues,” Campbell said.
A number of his patients suffer not only from teeth problems, including nighttime grinding, but with serious facial and jaw pain as well as chronic migraine headaches.
Campbell will refer patients to physician specialists, chiropractors, even massage therapists, who he believes can detect and treat ailments that can impact their dental health. He, too, will work with patients on costs not covered by insurance.
Campbell, too, works with patients on health and nutrition protocols he knows can reduce dental decay, be it vitamin supplements or baking soda toothpaste and mouth rinse. He is not afraid to tell patients to avoid caffeine and sugary foods that produce the acid that exhumes minerals from the teeth.
Dental hygiene that consists of just brushing and flossing teeth, and regular dental checkups, may work for some, but Campbell said his practice leans toward those whose dental decay and related chronic pain is linked with unresolved medical difficulties.
“They begin to feel hopeless,” Campbell said.
So his goal today is to build a better collaboration between traditional, and non-traditional, medical practitioners and the dental community, be it general dentists or specialists in oral surgery. Campbell himself is a general dentist practicing surgical prosthetics and treatment of chronic facial pain.
“I think every dentist should know about this,” Woods said. “Had I not found him, I don’t think I’d have any teeth right now, or I’d be wearing dentures.”
In May, Campbell hosted his institute’s first, two-day national continuing educational course for 14 dentists from all over the nation. The $1,700 cost included in-depth exploration of the “biofunction” philosophy and skills to help dentists more readily identify and treat patients who suffer from medical conditions that contribute to their dental difficulties. He has hopes to expand these offerings in the coming months, and even host a summit to further the quad-city collaboration between the dental and medical communities.
Campbell said his focus is to offer training that will enable his colleagues near and far to “be a hero in their own practice.”