What is holistic dentistry?
As in holistic medicine, holistic dentistry purports to consider not only the issues of the mouth, but also the mind, body and spirit of the patient. In fact, the Holistic Dental Association asserts that the dentist actually should be the first health professional to identify issues such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Alternatively called biocompatible or natural dentistry, holistic dentistry also rejects traditional treatment of cavities and of diseased teeth and gums.
Though they are trained in and use some common methods of traditional dentistry, holistic dentists are best known for opposing the use of mercury-based amalgam for filling cavities. They opt instead for using non-toxic and less toxic materials, such as composite resins. In fact, a holistic dentist is likely to recommend that all amalgams from previous dental work be removed.
Holistic dentists, who sometimes are dismissed as “quacks” by traditional doctors and dentists, also often take alternative approaches to root canals and the treatment of gum disease.
Contrary to what many people may want to hear, holistic dentists are more likely to recommend extraction than root canal for injured or diseased teeth. Root canals, they say, don’t actually target the cause of the matter which, in most instances, is bacteria which the procedure is intended to clean out.
However, some holistic dentists say bacteria often remains, posing a hazard not only to the teeth and their supporting structure, but also to the patient’s health in general.
In contrast to traditional treatments, holistic dentists often treat periodontal disease by dealing with the patient’s stress levels and by “normalizing” the patient’s body chemistry to discourage overgrowth of bacteria that cause gum disease.
Poor diet, the holistic practitioners say, also causes vital organs to pull important vitamins and minerals from non-vital areas like the jawbone, weakening the jaw and mouth in what often is considered the first sign of osteoporosis.
Holistic dentists believe that many treatments for gum disease target the symptoms rather than the disease. Though traditional dentists will tell patients to stay away from sugar, holistic dentists will make more specific dietary recommendation intended to reduce the mouth’s acidity.
Many holistic dentists also reject the use of fluoride in toothpastes as well as fluoridated water because it actually is considered a toxic substance. Also, their interpretation of available research is that it’s no more effective in combating cavities than non-fluoridated water.
As with all health-related matters, you should conduct background research on your own, and solicit the opinions of three highly rated physicians before agreeing to any treatment. Sign in to Angie’s List to find a Chicago dentist who practices holistic dentistry.