Spotlight: Health Centered Dentistry


    Health Centered Dentistry
    N. 7915 902 St., River Falls, WI 54022, (715) 426-7777,
    [email protected],

    Health Centered Dentistry offers "whole person" dentistry to its patients, taking into account the body, mind and spirit of the person during diagnosis and treatment. Based in River Falls, Wisc., the dentistry practice is led by John D. Laughlin III, DDS, and an experienced team that embraces this approach of dental health care.

    "We have much in common with traditional dentistry," Dr. Laughlin says. "We use the same tools, some of the same materials, and mainly concern ourselves with the oral health of the patient. Where does our practice and traditional dentistry differ? We differ in the way in which we look at the possible effect dentistry can have throughout the rest of the body, mind, and spirit of the patient. Another aspect of our practice that separates us from traditional dentistry is our commitment to integrative care. We endeavor to support the care we give our patients with communication and referrals to other health-care professionals – chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, medical doctors, cranial sacral therapists, etc. We even have a separate acupuncturist / occupational therapy clinic in our lower level!"

    In operation since 1975, Health Centered Dentistry moved from Ellsworth to River Falls (both in western Wisconsin) in late April 2006. In anticipation of the new office, the team began incorporating several technological improvements including: all digital X-rays, computers in each operatory, and a wireless X-ray tube. The new office includes many additional technologies to improve both the safety and comfort experienced by patients and the team. Most recently, the team uses electronic charting and are instituting advanced "new patient intake" procedures that stress patient co-diagnosis and goal-oriented solutions.

    Dr. Laughlin, a graduate from Marquette University in Milwaukee, first practiced dentistry in the Air Force before opening his private practice in Ellsworth. "Shortly after beginning my private practice a feeling began growing inside me, a feeling that said, ‘There is more to this.’ The more I learned about orthodontics, toxicology, cranial sacral therapy, bodywork, naturopathy and oriental medicine, the more I was convinced that dentistry operates not in a vacuum, separate from the rest of the body, but synergistically with the rest of the patient’s body, mind, and spirit. The philosophy of our practice has been evolving over the last 30+ years. With this growth comes the desire to learn more, to be able to better assist our patients reach their health goals…. This is what drives myself and my team."

    Patients, many of whom visit Health Centered Dentistry from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula and Iowa, often do so as a last resort after being told over and over again, "It’s all in your head" or "You need a CPAP to breathe at night" or "We’ll have to pull teeth in order to straighten them." "The fortunate ones are those who come to us early on in their search for better health, for those patients the search ends up being less frustrating and tiring," Dr. Laughlin says.

    Health Centered Dentistry emphasizes patient education and encourages the following values in its patients:

    • Making uninformed health-care decisions is much like rolling dice on the crap table; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. "We share with you what experience tells us about where you are at and what steps you can take toward optimal health."

    • Learning is a lifelong process. "We try to learn from every patient as we share the knowledge that we have accumulated."

    • To be truly open-minded, a person must ask questions from a place of curiosity rather than pre-determined judgment. "When we ask questions from judgment, we are already rejecting anything we hear that differs from our viewpoint, and this limits our ability to learn."

    • Every person is unique, therefore the journey to optimal health will be different for each person. "We give our patients options for treatment and opportunities to learn about complementary therapies offered by other health-care practitioners."

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