What You Need To Know About Holistic Dentistry
- September 17, 2018
- 6 mins read
When was the last time your dentist recommended eating kale or doing yoga for a better oral health? Have they suggested a daily probiotic or a crania-sacral session while you are on the chair? Probably never.
But these are exactly the kind of things you might experience at a holistic dental office, sometimes called integrative or biological dentistry. Get to know how this approach is different from traditional means we’re used to and if you would want to try it for yourself.
What is a Holistic Dentist?
All holistic dentists either have a degree of doctor of medical dentistry or a doctor of dental surgery. They try to treat oral problems considering the patient’s overall health and wellbeing. They pursue higher education to provide a safer, non-toxic treatment for patients wanting a more natural approach to their oral health.
The Holistic Dental Association has more than 250 active members nationwide. The word is spreading and the numbers are growing for a variety of reasons, including acknowledging that the teeth and gums should be treated as the rest of the body, and vice versa. There is also the concern of professionals with using mercury amalgam fillings and its possible harmful effects on a person’s health.
Biological dentists clean teeth, fill cavities and install implants and bridges just like any other dentist. However, their views are rooted in the concept that when caring for the teeth, one must also look at the entire lifestyle, diet, mental, and emotional health of the patient. Many of them also try to utilize technology that minimizes exposure to harmful chemicals – for the patient, doctor and staff, as well as the environment.
Dr. David Villarreal, a biological dentist located in Newbury Park, says, “Conventional Western dentistry tends to decapitate you. Most treat your mouth as an independent entity, which just doesn’t make sense to us. What’s the first thing a horse veterinarian does?” He answered that they check the horse’s mouth to learn about the condition of its body and health.
For the most part, integrative dentists try to avoid fluoride as much as possible, and they prefer herbal products and remedies. Some also use massage to soothe and relieve pain. This isn’t just based off some cool trend they randomly picked up. In fact, many countries are fighting the use of fluoride since various studies have shown that it can interfere with important biological processes, hormones, enzymes, and our biochemistry in fundamental ways.
Holistic Dentists vs. Mercury
Virtually all holistic dental offices are free of mercury and the professionals opt for safer and less invasive restoration materials. Amalgam fillings contain around 50 percent of mercury by weight. This brings us to the primary concern of natural dentists: the mercury in your mouth.
In the holistic practice, eliminating heavy metals from a patient’s mouth is of utmost consideration. Since the dentist’s next move is to replace the amalgam, they have to look for fillings and composites that they believe are safer than the ones containing mercury.
Taking It Out
When removing a mercury-filled amalgam, the holistic dentist and staff will wear dual-valve gas masks and hazmat suits. The patient will be covered from head to toe, isolating the working tooth. They will then use a strong suction to take out old mercury fillings and separate it from the wastewater into a safe container. Agents from the Environmental Protection Agency will come and pick up the waste.
Most holistic dentists still use the same kind of anesthesia as conventional experts, although many have a naturopathic doctor around to run an IV with vitamin C to help the patient fight the stress of the procedure. They will replace the amalgam fillings with plastic, resin, or other materials which are considered less toxic.
Many conventional dentists support holistic medicine. Periodontist Todd H. Yamada from Los Angeles is one of them, and he believes that hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and meditation all have a place in medicine. These methods have been around for centuries and have enough evidence to support their claims.
As for dentistry, Yamada said that the field is too technical that the holistic approach is not as clear-cut as it needs to be. He further reiterated that there isn’t much research done on the topic, and the mercury used for amalgam is such a trace amount that there isn’t any study backing up that it could be dangerous to your health. “I’m afraid it’s used as a scare tactic and marketing tool,” Yamada remarked.
Another dentist agrees. Kevin Komatsu said that they only render procedures backed by years of use and research. He noted that there are better alternatives these days that if someone doesn’t want metal or amalgams in their mouth, conventional dentists can still accommodate them.
The American Dental Association notes that it is unethical for a professional to claim that removing mercury is a cure for a certain disease. If a patient is showing symptoms, the dentist should send him or her to appropriate specialists.
Practicing Within Standard Care
Today’s dental students learn about the issue of mercury removal and amalgams, as well as how to deal with questions from patients. There’s currently no specific definition to holistic dentistry, but Edmond R. Hewlett, a professor of restorative dentistry and associate dean of outreach and diversity at the UCLA School of Dentistry, reminds everyone that in practice, what matters are standard care and use of methods that have substantial evidence.
If you are convinced that a biological dentist is for you, it’s recommended to get a referral from a friend or even your regular dentist. However, it’s important that you delve more into its philosophy and research what you can about. Look at reputable sources and see if it is something that could be beneficial to your wellbeing.
At Kyrene Family Dentistry, we are concerned about your oral health. Schedule an appointment with us to learn about our services. We are here to provide you with the best options and make sure you are comfortable every step of the way. Call us today at 480-702-9005 for more information.