What Exactly IS “Holistic Dentistry”?

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In dentistry, the range of philosophies, techniques, and practices varies almost as much as the medical field at-large. Just like in standard medicine, dentistry has a whole sector of practices commonly known as “holistic dentistry,” very similar to “holistic medicine,” which deserves in some respects attention and scrutiny.

Otherwise known as biological dentistry, biologic dentistry, alternative dentistry, and several other names, holistic dentistry is a practice that is uncommon but growing steadily in dental medicine.

The important concept is “holistic,” which in this context means being geared toward whole-body, or in some cases emotional and spiritual health, in tandem with dental health. People who practice holistic dentistry see an intimate relationship between dentistry and overall health, and conduct their dental practices with overall health in mind.

Yet, the range of what constitutes “holistic dentistry” is a rather difficult question to answer. There are some core philosophies that most all who call themselves “holistic dentists” hold true, but looking around any listings and researching your options is always the best practice to keep.

Are Mercury Fillings Really That Bad?

The general public has long known that mercury—you know, that stuff that yourself or your parents used to skip across the floor with your bare hands!—is hazardous to your health. The World Health Organization has recognized mercury as one of the top ten chemicals that have major negative impacts the world over, known to cause birth defects, digestive problems, and so much more.

In dentistry, mercury is used most often in amalgam, a compound of heavy metals used in dental fillings. The New Zealand Dental Association has ruled amalgam to be safe to use for fillings, but at Star Dental we have made a promise never to use the mercury-containing amalgam for fillings.

Practitioners of holistic dentistry also follow this practice, citing the many health concerns that mercury poses not only to patients but to children when it enters into the bloodstream. The European Union banned mercury-containing amalgam in its 27 member countries, and certain parts of the New Zealand government are working to bring those same bans to the country.

At Star Dental, you can rest assured we never use mercury in our filings because, in complete honesty, we wouldn’t want mercury in our mouths!

Instead, holistic dentists will often use enamel filling materials, which are more natural and without the toxicity of mercury.

Can Too Much Fluoride Hurt You?

Another chemical that holistic dentists often do not use is fluoride. With evidence mounting that fluoride can have adverse impacts on bone health and potentially causes cancer as well, many holistic dentists aim to use non-fluoride treatments, and will often suggest toothpaste without the chemical.

You’ll find that many holistic dentists also are against the fluoridation of water, an oft-unpopular opinion in the dental and general health world.

Root Canals – An Individual Consideration

Root canals—that dreaded collection of words strikes fear in many, but many dentists believe they are often a necessary procedure for impacted teeth.

Yet, holistic dentists take other considerations when assessing the need for a root canal. One worry is having a dead tooth left in the mouth, which is widely believed in the holistic community to pose detrimental risks for oral health down the line.

While many dentists consider a root canal necessary in terms of root infection, a holistic dentist might be wary of automatically going for this procedure, while being more in favor of alternative cleaning methods and changes in diet.

Looking at the Whole Patient = Holistic Dentistry

While dental health can impact many factors of overall well being, holistic dentists take what they consider special measures in making dental work part of an overall health solution.

For instance, a dentist practicing holistic dentistry will often make recommendations on nutrition that not only impacts dental health, but will have an overall positive impact on your body.

While it is common knowledge in the dental world that dental health can have serious overall health impacts—for instance, gum disease has been linked to the development of diabetes—additional training that holistic dentists receive aim to draw a link between dental health and emotional, psychological, and even sometimes spiritual health.

In the End

Much of holistic dentistry is criticized by the traditional dentistry community. As various world organisations have endorsed the use of mercury, fluoride, and other commonly-used compounds, holistic dentists have seen a wave of criticism about their practice.

While we at Star Dental do not call ourselves holistic dentists, we do believe in the most cutting-edge dental practices to ensure that you receive a safe, comfortable, and effective dental treatment, whatever your needs may be.

For more information on our practice, or if you have any questions about our work, give us a call at 6583-6111 anytime. We look forward to hearing from you!

Author; Dr Jeremy Rourke, B.D.S. Hons. Syd Univ. Dental Surgeon

Spelling and Grammar editor by Grammarly

My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.

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