Holistic dental care is not a new concept but one that has been around since the late 1970s. A group of dentists during this time shared similar views on developing and offering other treatment options that focused on complete mouth and body health. Some of these ideas were new, while others had been around for centuries.1 Some of the concepts were taken right from traditional Chinese medicine and medical practices.
Today, as people have become more conscious of making healthy lifestyle choices, this form of dentistry has been growing in popularity. People are realizing that their mouths are essentially a gateway to the rest of the body. The mouth and infected gums allow for potential infection and disease-causing bacteria that can affect overall health and well-being, to enter the body.
What Is a Holistic Oral Health Approach?
To better understand holistic oral health, we need to look at traditional oral health first. With a traditional approach, the objective is to treat symptoms as they occur without necessarily discovering the cause to prevent them from reoccurring.
On the other hand, a holistic approach not only treats symptoms but also the causes for them. The objective is to identify why the problems are occurring and treat the entire body, not just the symptoms present in the mouth.
To illustrate the differences, let’s consider the following scenario: You are developing cavities on a regular basis. Traditional oral care would simply remove the tooth decay caused by the cavities and fill them. The dentist might recommend a change to your brushing habits and prescribe special rinses.
Holistic dental care would also fill the cavities and recommend changes to your oral care habits. In addition, a holistic dentist would examine other areas of your lifestyle like the types of foods you eat, any medical problems you are experiencing, and other issues that could be contributing to regular occurring cavities.
Advantages of Holistic Dental Care over Traditional Dental Care
Treating the entire body is just one of the advantages of holistic dental care over traditional care. In recent years and research, it has been determined oral health contributes to your overall health and well-being for other areas of your body like the heart, brain, lungs, kidney and the vascular system. Other advantages of a holistic dental approach include:
1. Healthy Gums Reduce Risks of Disease
Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other medical conditions are directly related to the health of your gums. Gum disease and its later stages (periodontal disease) can increase the risks of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems.
This is because bacteria can get into the bloodstream through the defective tooth structure and gum tissue. As a result, bacteria not only cause problems in the mouth but can also spread to other areas of the body through the circulatory system. Bacteria can also cause different types of infections as they move to other areas of the body.
2. Health and Dental Education
Your holistic dentists will share details about how your health and dental care are directly related. They will offer advice on what things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. They will share what oral practices are best for you to help maintain your oral health and, in turn, the health of your body.
3. Removes Toxicity from the Body
Amalgam fillings were widely used at one point to fill cavities. These types of fillings often contained mercury, which is harmful to the body. A holistic dentist will make you aware of the risks of mercury leaching into your body. In some situations you may be recommend to remove these types of fillings and have them replaced with a safe, non-toxic biocompatible fillings that are color matched to the color of the tooth.
4. Offers Non-Toxic Biocompatible Materials to Improve Your Smile
If you are interested in veneers, inlays, onlays, crowns, bridges, or dental implants, a holistic dentist will use metal-free, non-toxic biocompatible materials. One popular material that is considered holistic is zirconia ceramic, which is also known as zirconium oxide all-ceramic.
This material is very strong, durable, and safe for the body. It is frequently used for implants, crowns, and bridges. There are also other materials such as BPA-free composites and aluminum-free lithium disilicate porcelain that are safe and considered holistic. Furthermore, the use of biocompatible materials helps prevent allergic reactions some people have to various metals.
5. Access to Latest Dental Technologies
Holistic dental care focuses on using the latest dental technologies to provide exceptional results. Since your dentist is not just addressing your oral health but your entire body health, they offer treatments and minimally invasive options to help you avoid pain and discomfort as much as possible.
In addition, they will utilize digital x-rays over traditional x-rays. Digital x-rays emit lower levels of radiation and are considered safer. They also rely when possible on laser treatments to treat various conditions like gum disease instead of opting for surgical procedures.
6. Holistic Dental Care Is Tailored to Each Person
Unlike traditional dental care which treats everyone and their symptoms almost identically, holistic dental care focuses on the individual. In the past, the same approach was used to treat similar symptoms. You had a cavity, and it was filled with an amalgam filling, without regard for your overall health or wellbeing.
Today, the approach is to develop individualized oral care and treatment plans based on your individual needs and objectives. Your care and treatment plan will look completely different from another person’s since they will have different needs and objectives. Taking a personalized approach, tailored individually, ensures each person is receiving the right total body care they need.
7. Holistic Dentistry Helps Strengthen Your Body’s Systems
Through proper oral care and treatment, your immune system becomes stronger. In turn, this helps improve and strengthen other systems in your body. Combined, you feel better, have more energy, and experience better wellness.
8. Holistic Dentistry Balances Function with Aesthetics
If you are self-conscious about your smile, have crooked teeth, damaged teeth, missing teeth, or a lot of amalgam fillings, you may feel more self-conscious about your smile and appearance. This can affect how you feel about yourself both physically and mentally.
Holistic dental care helps find a balanced approach to help you get a truly stunning smile which functions how it should. When you love your smile, it improves your self-confidence. People who have high levels of self-confidence are much stronger mentally and physically.
9. Alternative Approach to Root Canal Therapy
The holistic approach is to attempt to avoid traditional root canal therapy whenever possible. Even after a root canal using traditional methods, there is still the risk of latent infections. A latent infection can lower the body’s immune response gradually. However, it should be noted that, when done correctly, there can be no negative side effects to a root canal.
With holistic treatment, either a prevention of root canal or a zirconium implant may be suggested instead of a root canal. Installing an implant addresses a wide range of potential issues that could occur with a traditional root canal—like fractures and periapical infections that can decrease one’s immunity.
Holistic oral health not only incorporates aspects of traditional dental care and treatment but also focuses on treating the entire body for health and wellbeing. If you are feeling tired or run down or are getting sick often, the cause could be related to your oral health, especially if you have amalgam fillings or other non-biocompatible materials.
To experience the holistic approach and to learn more about holistic dental care and treatment available at the Center for Advanced Dentistry, you can contact us at (212) 758-1838 to schedule a consultation appointment today.