Holistic vs. Traditional Dentistry

You have probably heard about holistic medicine, but how about holistic dentistry? Holistic dentists are traditionally trained dentists who, when going into practice, make a conscious decision to treat the whole patient, not just their dental needs. There are holistic dentistry associations that provide guidelines for practicing dentists, but there is no formal education available for them at this time. Anyone looking for a holistic dentist needs to do some investigating before selecting one. There will be plenty of practitioners who claim to be natural, biological or holistic dentists, but in reality, just offer mercury free fillings or sell supplements and vitamins. Some may even use x-rays on a regular basis. This would be a sure sign that the dentist is not a true biological dentist.

The basis for the holistic theory, and its application to dentistry, is that oral health is at the center of the overall health of the person. Practitioners believe that many diseases could be avoided by good nutritional habits and oral hygiene. Holistic dentists contend that people with good dental health, are healthier overall. Seniors who still have their own teeth are also healthier than their counterparts, who have dentures or implants.

These dentists will also work with other physicians or healthcare providers to address any health issues that are out of the realm of their practice scope. They may offer nutritional counseling and promote all-natural oral care to their patients.

Dentists who practice holistic medicine also use material that is biology compatible with the patient. They do not use amalgam fillings (mercury fillings), nor do they use sealants. They believe that any material used in the mouth has the potential of being absorbed by the body, so using potentially toxic materials is out of the question. These dentists are also trained to remove mercury fillings. There is a proper way to remove those fillings so that the patient is not exposed to any additional ill effects from the mercury. The staff also protect themselves during the procedure to minimize the exposure to mercury.

Just as x-rays are not routinely used in the practice, as they would be with conventional dental practices, root canals are frowned upon as well. The theory is that leaving a dead tooth in the body makes a person susceptible to bacterial infections and toxins. Biological dentists promote removal of the tooth if it is too far gone to be treated. When the tooth is “cleaned” out during root canal, they feel that there is no way to completely disinfect the tooth so it will not be a health concern at some point down the road. In the case where a tooth is recommended for root canal, the holistic approach would be extraction (removal) of the tooth.

Any dentist can call themselves a holistic dentist, but it is only in examining their practice procedures and philosophies, that one can make that determination.

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