Holistic dentistry, sometimes referred to as biological dentistry, is a dental approach that seeks to treat the patient as a whole person, taking care to use methods that are good for the patient’s physical and emotional well-being as well as their oral health. Holistic dentists incorporate natural techniques with conventional medicine to treat, diagnose, and prevent dental issues.
Conventional dentistry uses a variety of materials known to be toxic. One in particular is amalgam, which consists of more than 50% mercury. Mercury has been proven to harm the immune system and the central nervous system. Not only is this harmful to the patient, but the waste, if improperly disposed of, gets into the air and water supply. Amalgam fillings aren’t the only potentially harmful practice in dentistry, however. Even routine procedures such as cleanings can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Holistic dentists minimize this risk with natural antibacterials.
Holistic dentists believe that oral health both directly influences and is influenced by physical and mental health. Research shows that patients with gum disease have more trouble keeping their blood sugar under control, and approximately 95% of diabetics have gum disease. Poor oral health is also linked to increased symptoms of depression, increased risk of premature birth, and other conditions.
Holistic dentists don’t limit themselves to treating the teeth and gums, they may also advise their patients on healthy lifestyles, including not smoking, moderating their alcohol consumption and improving their nutrition, all of which will benefit both physical and oral health. Other practices vary among holistic dentists. Some oppose the use of fluoride, especially in water, feeling that the benefits are overhyped and not worth the potential risk of bone disease and certain types of cancer. Some do not perform root canals due to the risk of trapping bacteria inside the tooth where it can make its way to the bloodstream. Some prefer digital over conventional x-rays as they expose patients to less radiation. Just about the only universal among holistic dentists is that they do not use amalgam in dental procedures, preferring alternatives like resin.
Don’t get too caught up in the holistic label in your search for a dentist. Some conventional minded dentists use the label as a marketing scheme, while other dentists don’t bother with the label, despite following many holistic practices. Be sure to ask questions of any dentist you choose to find one who closely aligns with your preferences.
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