The Differences Between Holistic Dentistry & Conventional Dentistry
These days, it seems the line between holistic dentistry and conventional dentistry is getting more and more blurred. Since the early days after the Holistic Dental Association was formed in 1978, many dental professionals have gradually created a kind of “hybrid” practice by adopting some holistic techniques but not all. Sometimes this is because these dental professionals honestly believe in the holistic methods they have added to their practice, though they aren’t in complete agreement with the holistic dentistry philosophy.
Unfortunately, there are a few who simply want to take advantage of what they consider the “holistic fad,” in order to attract new patients. It can be tricky, knowing when a dental professional’s practice can be considered truly holistic. It has nothing to do with whether a dentist offers procedures that go beyond thorough cleaning and exams, like porcelain veneers or full mouth reconstruction. What matters is how the dental professional performs his or her procedures. So how can a patient in search of authentic holistic dentistry know the difference? TLC Dentistry in Dunedin, Florida takes a closer look at what sets holistic dental professionals apart from those in conventional practice.
A Brief Background On Holistic Dentistry
First, let’s examine the real meaning of holistic dentistry. Sometimes referred to as natural dentistry, the term doesn’t reflect the practices and techniques that a dentist uses. Rather, “holistic” is a basic, philosophical concept regarding how those practices and techniques are carried out. Authentically holistic dental professionals strongly believe in educating patients on how dental care influences the broader health of the body. Hence, the word “holistic,” derived from “wholistic,” which means “the whole.”
The overwhelming majority of dentists, regardless of if they are holistic or conventional professionals, understand that oral health is in some way connected to the patient’s general health. As an example: No legitimate dental professional disputes that gum disease can be linked to the health of the heart or that it can impact pregnancy or the affects of diabetes. But most convention dental professionals do not undergo additional training that takes into account the long term effects that any given dental procedure has on the rest of the body, months and even years later.
And this is why holistic dentistry came into being, and the Holistic Dental Association was formed in 1978. In a nutshell, dental professionals who are authentically holistic perform dental techniques and procedures in a way that’s beneficial to the whole body, not just teeth and gums.
Holistic Dentistry Vs. Conventional Dentistry
The old saying, “actions speak louder than words” is particularly insightful when it comes to holistic dentistry. A dentist may tout his or her practice as natural dentistry. But if that dental professional provides mixed bag holistic techniques while ignoring the whole-body significance of other dental procedures that he or she also employs, it’s fair to say that the dentist isn’t really a holistic practitioner.
For example: A dentist who doesn’t use amalgam or mercury to make fillings, but accepts that healthy teeth must be damaged in order to support a dental bridge that replaces missing or diseased teeth, likely doesn’t subscribe to a true holistic dental philosophy.
Expanding Perceptions About Holistic Dentistry
Many people associate holistic dentistry, or natural dentistry, exclusively with amalgam or mercury fillings. However, there is a lot more to holistic dental practices than this procedure alone. So let’s take a closer look at some of the most common dental procedures, starting with this controversial topic.
- Mercury Amalgam Fillings
It’s the long life of mercury fillings that account for the amalgam’s continued use and popularity in conventional dentistry. When confronted with continuing evidence of the risk of this toxin, even in small amounts, conventional dentists often counter by pointing out the ADA’s and FDA’s stance that mercury amalgam fillings are stable, and leak only a minuscule amount of mercury.
They also defend the practice of using mercury amalgam by pointing out that dental insurance generally covers this type of filling, and that mercury amalgam is simply easier to work with than composite fillings.
Dental professionals who practice holistic dentistry take issue with putting a toxin in patients’ mouths simply because it lasts a few years longer and is easier to work with. Holistic dentists also disagree with the ADA’s and FDA’s assertions that that the leakage from mercury amalgam fillings is harmless. Historically, mercury, in even small amounts, has been shown to be too great a hazard to use for virtually any type of medical treatment for the body.
Dental professionals who honestly practice holistic dentistry never use mercury amalgam in the placement of fillings. They also make sure that they meet or exceed safety guidelines when removing mercury fillings.
- Performing A Root Canal Procedure
Holistic dentistry does not condone or support the practice of performing root canals. The majority of conventional dental professionals advise a root canal procedure when they believe a tooth can be saved regardless of extreme decay and is on the verge of dying completely. Conventional dentists point out that root canals have been preformed for hundreds of years as a safe and effective technique for retaining a natural tooth.
Holistic dentistry, on the other hand, offers up established research showing that root canals are not effective unless canals can be one hundred percent sterilized and cleared of bacteria. The thing is, the research also shows that reaching one hundred percent sterilization is an impossibility.
In addition, the chemicals used for sterilization in root canals are toxic. Formaldehyde and sodium hypochlorite are two examples. Plus, bacteria that remain in the canal may promote adverse health effects later on. There have been links shown between these bacteria to breast cancer, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Dental professionals practicing holistic dentistry generally don’t advise have a root canal done.
Conventional dentistry continues to support the use of fluoride as both a topical and ingestible type of tooth decay prevention. The argument used is that fluoridating public water and giving fluoride drops to infants reduces cavity rates when this is done.
Professionals in holistic dentistry attest that all forms of ingestible fluoride have a link to cancer as well as a variety of bone problems. Still other studies have shown that there isn’t any dental benefit in ingesting fluoride. While some in holistic dentistry approve of topical fluoride, like toothpaste, the majority oppose both ingestible and topical fluoride.
- Testing the Biocompatibility of Dental Material
Conventional dentistry, on the whole, puts little stock in biocompatibility testing and does not offer tests for patients in order to determine if the materials used might cause a reaction when in contact with the mouth or body. Conventional dentists generally don’t take the time to explain the differences between various composite filling materials to their patients. For that matter, conventional dentists rarely, if ever, offer their patients a choice in what material is used to fill their cavities.
Dental professionals who practice holistic dentistry view whatever is going into a patient’s mouth as having an effect on the entire body. Most holistic (or natural) dentistry practices include tools and equipment at the office or clinic that are designed for the testing of biocompatibility regarding the materials used. The majority of holistic dental professionals stock an assortment of composite material; not just for fillings, but for other dental procedures such as the installation of bridges or crowns.
How To Tell If A Dentist Really Practices Holistic Or Natural Dentistry
Understanding that dental professionals may be “hybrid” holistic dentists in many cases, or often only hitching their conventional dentistry practice to the holistic movement to attract patients, how can patients really know if a dentist fully subscribes to the holistic philosophy?
The answer is simple and effective: Ask questions. Ask the dentist things like how she or he determines what material is right for you in filling a cavity. Are you getting cavities in just one area of your mouth? Ask the dentist if he or she can explain why this is so. Ask the dentist if she or he performs procedures like root canals, or uses more advanced, holistic-friendly methods for gum disease like laser assisted periodontal therapy. The answers you receive will be very telling in determining if the professional practices holistic dentistry.
Always remember that, as a patient, you have every right to ask your dentist about his or her methods and procedures. You have the right to know why the dentist makes the choices that she or he does. If a dentist requires you to accept his or her methods without question, you probably want to find a new dental professional.
Keep in mind, the vast majority of dental professionals, whether in holistic dentistry or conventional practice, are honest individuals who sincerely keep the well being of their patients foremost in their minds. Even so, you should maintain a pro-active philosophy when deciding on a dentist for you and your family. Your health depends upon it.
About TLC Dentistry in Dunedin
Dr. Rawa Hassan of TLC Dentistry in Dunedin is known for her holistic dentistry approach. Resolving oral health issues in a natural, holistic way helps prevent the need for more invasive procedures. Whether you’re in need regular dental care or specific dental procedures like mercury and amalgam removal or dental crowns, bridges or more, Dr. Hassan and her staff at TLC Dentistry are highly qualified to serve you.
Dr. Hassan and her staff at TLC Dentistry are committed to preventing disease through exceptional dental care. They strongly believe that helping to educate their patients in regard to role that oral health plays in overall wellness helps people stay healthier longer.
Dr. Hassan’s highly trained staff is ready to help with any questions you have. Please call (727) 785-2467 or use our Contact Page.