What is Holistic Dentistry?
Holistic or biological dentistry considers a person’s complete physical and emotional health in addition to their teeth. Holistic dentist use natural treatments, frequently combined with conventional methods, in order to prevent, diagnose and treat oral issues.
How did it come about?
Many modern solutions for oral conditions and diseases contain toxic components. The product amalgam, which is often times used in fillings, consists of more than 50% mercury. Mercury is a heavy metal that has been known to damage the central nervous and immune systems.
In addition, gum cleanings and root canals can even allow bacteria into the bloodstream. While gum cleanings are an important element of oral health, holistic dentists are able to use natural antibacterial agents to minimize this risk.
A group of dentists worked together to form the Holistic Dental Association in 1978. The mission of the HDA is to educate and support holistic knowledge across dentists and to inform the public about the health benefits of holistic dentistry.
What are the risk factors in traditional dentistry?
Amalgam fillings are the primary source of mercury exposure for the general public. Mercury can also remain in the body for up to a year.
In addition to the exposure to mercury and bacteria, there are also environmental concerns to consider. When dental waste is disposed of improperly, it can release heavy metals into water sources. This is a threat to wildlife and can even affect the food chain.
What is the relationship between oral health and overall health?
Oral health is critical and can be directly related to an individual’s overall health. The oral cavity is often the entry point for many microbial infections. Oral health issues can cause and expose risk to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It is common for the human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) to exhibit initial symptoms in the mouth. Nearly all Americans who have diabetes, also have gum disease.
Babies who are born prematurely or with a low birth weight are also linked to gum disease.
Poor oral health has also been associated with depression and other mental health conditions. It can impact social interaction, physical attraction and contribute to low confidence.
How is holistic dentistry different from traditional dentistry?
In addition to the teeth and gums, holistic dentists evaluate a patient’s complete health. They may encourage patients to participate in preventative care beyond oral hygiene.
The views and beliefs of holistic dentists can differ. Some holistic dentists are opposed to using fluoride as they don’t believe it prevents tooth decay and rather presents health problems such as a higher risk of cancer and even degenerative bone diseases. From a political perspective, they are against adding fluoride to the water supply because it is viewed as the government forcing medicine on the general public.
Most holistic dentists are also against root canals. The dentists believe the use of sterilizing chemicals and the possibility of trapping bacteria in the canal can cause long-term health effects.
Holistic dentists do not use amalgam or other metals to fill cavities and rather use composite resin. They may also encourage patients to remove existing amalgam fillings and replace them with more organic materials.
Holistic dentistry also encourages the use of digital X-ray equipment. This exposes patients to far less radiation. Conventional dentists are also beginning to use this type of equipment to reduce radiation exposure.
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