In today’s day and age, the use of alternative medicine is on the rise. People are no longer relying on *just* allopathic medicine and modern clinical treatments to solve their health problems – they are also making use to alternative treatments such as acupressure, acupuncture, etc. What’s unique today, though, is the fact that alternative methods are being used along with conventional methods along with being used on their own, which can make us say that these are now more “complimentary” than alternative, so to speak.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that dentistry too today uses alternative methods that eschew traditional systems and have a more broad-based approach towards healing – a process that, in a nutshell, is called holistic dentistry.
What is Holistic Dentistry?
Also known as biologic dentistry, biological dentistry, unconventional dentistry, alternative dentistry, and even biocompatible dentistry, holistic dentistry is the use of alternative and complementary medicine in the field of dentistry. Holistic dentistry is a different kind of approach which focuses more on an individual’s dental health in context of their entire physical, emotional and spiritual health. While several threads of holistic dentistry exist, they are all common on some points, such as a strong opposition to using any amalgam as materials in dental fillings, adapting a non-surgical approach to gum diseases, as well as the belief that root canals actually endanger a patient’s systemic health by inadvertently spreading trapped dental bacteria in the body. In fact, many dentists who practice holistic healing oppose water fluoridation. As with all alternative medicine, it is recommended that proper research using authority references be consulted before electing dental treatment, such as American Dental Association, Smileworks, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and CDC Oral Health.
According to the Holistic Dental Network, holistic dentistry is an approach to dentistry which promotes wellness and health instead of just treating the disease. A unique and one-of-a-kind approach, holistic dentistry uses both the knowledge of modern science as well as the knowledge drawn from the greatest natural healing traditions in the world. Instead of just focusing on the teeth, this form of dental care focuses on the relationship between the patient’s spirit, body and mind.
The following are the basic principles on which holistic dentistry functions:
- Reversal and prevention of degenerative dental disease through proper and adequate nutrition
- Eliminating and avoiding toxins made from dental materials
- Treatment and prevention of dental malocclusion (i.e. bite problems)
- Treatment and prevention of gum disease at the root of its biology
The Holistic Dental Association is the primary organization that deals with matters concerning holistic dentistry. Founded in 1978 by dedicated and concerned dentists, the primary goal of the organization is to provide a common platform for developing and sharing health-promoting therapies.
The following are some of the main practices often used in holistic dentistry:
- Metal-Free Dentistry: Safely removes conventional amalgam restorations (i.e. “silver fillings”) and replaces them bonded, metal-free, and state-of-the-art composite resins ( i.e. white fillings), or with other materials such as implants, bridges, veneers, and all-porcelain crowns.
- Mercury-Free Dentistry: Method where specifically developed protocols are utilized to reduce the risk of getting exposed during the removal and subsequent replacement of mercury-amalgam restorations.
- White Fillings: Also known as composite resin fillings, white fillings make use of high-tech dental materials which look very much like a natural tooth. These have none of the health issues which are associated with conventional amalgam fillings (such as mercury toxicity) and in fact help strengthen and seal the “real” tooth that adjoins them.
- Fluoride: Holistic dentists oppose the use fluoride, saying that it does more harm than good. Not only does ingested fluoride have no documented benefits to the teeth, it also may cause cancer and bone problems in the long run. Too much ingested fluoride can also cause fluorosis.
- Biocompatibility of Dental Materials: According to holistic dentists, anything that goes into your mouth has an effect on your body. Several holistic dentists have equipment on-site to test the biocompatibility of the materials that they use.
Alternative Dental Care Conclusion
Although the topical aspects of complimentary/alternative dentistry have been abundantly used (primarily due to the fact that topical elements being very visible and easily understandable are much more easier to identify), the practice is more about having a different philosophical view. This approach, instead of only looking at the problem, looks at the root cause and the system imbalance that caused it, and seeks to repair the whole system. In other words, it is the practice of treating underlying problems which cause the symptoms in the first place, making an attempt to get rid of those problems, and finally ensuring that the work that has been done in the mouth has no adverse effect on your overall health.