The founder of Estrella reveals why we need to start thinking of oral products as skin care for our teeth.
Written By NATALIA GARDUÑO
Photography By ANTHONY GOBLÉ
Makeup By MAI QUYNH
Hair By KYLEE HEATH
Old Hollywood is replete with tales of questionable dentistry: Jean Harlow’s heart stopped during a botched wisdom tooth surgery, Joan Crawford removed her molars for sharper cheekbones, and studio heads forced Shirley Temple to receive custom implants each time she lost a baby tooth. These days, however, stars are fortunate to benefit from a decidedly more humane approach to oral care—including the rising popularity of holistic dentistry.
But what exactly are holistic dentists (and how do they differ from standard-issue DDS’s)? Eager to learn more, we sought out Dr. David Villarreal, a holistic dentist and founder of Estrella, who makes it a point to focus on more than just what’s going on with your teeth. Because, as Dr. Villarreal puts it, “you mouth is the door to your health.”
After a morning of surfing, Dr. Villarreal spoke with VIOLET GREY about his unique clinical approach, the major mistakes we are making with our teeth, and the latest products to be approved by the VIOLET CODE: Estrella’s all-natural toothpaste duo Líta and Blanco (spoiler alert: they are the chicest toothpaste we’ve ever seen). Without further adieu, here’s what the good doctor had to say.
HOLISTIC DENTISTRY EXPLAINED
So what exactly is holistic dentistry?
Think of it as general and cosmetic dentistry with a twist. In addition to using blood tests to tailor treatments to each individual, we clean the mouth of any metals so that the body is left with the lowest degree of toxicity. Holistic dentistry really understands that the mouth is connected to your entire body and that whatever you put in your mouth will affect other areas as well.
You’ve been practicing this method for 26 years. What inspired you to start?
I actually practiced conventional dentistry for seven years. It wasn’t until a patient of mine brought me the book It's All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness by Dr. Hal Huggins, the grandfather of holistic dentistry, that I decided I couldn’t look back. There was so much common sense in it.
People seem more curious than ever about holistic dentistry. What do you think sparked this interest?
There is a new generation of patients that are more aware of—and asking more questions about— what they’re putting in their mouth. I think that’s great. I remember when no one questioned their doctors. With the increase of stress and toxins in today’s society, people are also looking for natural ways to help them age well and stay healthy.
Is there anything to consider when making the switch from conventional to holistic dentistry?
I tell my new patients that, at the end of the day, you have to do your research and go with your gut. Do what feels best for your body. Whoever you feel is the right doctor for you is who you should go to because it becomes a relationship. There’s always an energy exchange between two people, and you need to feel comfortable.
Let’s chat about holistic whitening because nothing beats leaving the dentist’s office with a brighter smile.
Going to a conventional office for chair-side whitening is one of the worst things you could ever do. The problem is that these treatments use a high percentage of peroxide—this essentially desiccates your teeth. Holistic whitening uses the lowest percentage of peroxide; it takes longer but allows the teeth to stay hydrated. This way, you avoid drying out a tooth and killing the nerves. I understand why everyone wants white pearly teeth—I mean I want to have whiter teeth—but the difference is knowing that the materials used are the best for your body.
BIG MISTAKES AND BETTER FIXES
What mistakes are most of us making when it comes to oral care?
The thing is, most people are not proactive when it comes to the mouth. If everybody would miss one nice dinner and get their teeth cleaned three or four times a year, we would all have fewer cavities and fewer problems with their mouths. A lot of us are also procrastinators and creatures of habit—people are not brushing their teeth long enough and forgetting to floss. They buy floss, put it in the medicine cabinet, and that’s it.
[Luckily, VIOLET GREY now carries Cocofloss, an addictive floss that you’ll actually want to use.]
Estrella’s toothpaste are made with all-natural ingredients, including essential oils. Why is that?
Sometimes, it is important to go back to our roots and remember that nature gave us all of our remedies. Most toothpaste and mouthwashes rid the mouth of all bacteria, including good bacteria that fights gum disease, gingivitis, bad breath, and decay. Using non-chemical ingredients helps to enhance the mouth’s natural properties. Essential oils also infuse the mouth with oxygen, which kills the anaerobic bacteria that lead to decay and bad breath.
What would you tell someone who hesitates to switch to a natural toothpaste because they lack fluoride?
I would tell them fluoride is a toxin and that there is so much scientific proof of that. The reason fluoride is still used today is that it hardens enamel (the outer tooth structure), but it does nothing to prevent decay from going inside the tooth.
THE ALL-NATURAL TOOTHPASTE TO TRY NOW
What’s the best way to incorporate Estrella’s toothpaste, Líta and Blanco, into our daily routine?
During VIOLET GREY’s testing phase, we were impressed with the lack of after-taste. How big of a factor was flavor in developing the formulas?
It’s one of the reasons I created Estrella. Being a holistic dentist, I would encourage my patients to use natural toothpaste. While patients would try it, they ultimately stopped using natural formulas because the taste was so terrible. I took my time developing Estrella with a natural chemist because, although the ingredients were really important to me, it also had to taste good—so that patients would use it long enough to see positive effects!
We typically spend our time thinking about makeup and skin care. Any lessons from that that we can apply to our mouths?
Just like your skin, your gums need a moisturizer. Estrella’s toothpaste is formulated for helping gums stay hydrated so they can look and feel good. The blend of essential oils acts like an anti-aging moisturizer for your mouth, which tends to dry out as you get older.