Holistic or biological dentistry, although not an officially recognized dental specialty, is a practice philosophy that differs in several ways from traditional dentistry. This means focusing more on the oral-systemic connection and using the most bio-compatible materials available in order to help improve not only oral health but the overall health of patients.
Oral health can have a direct effect on and also be impacted by a myriad of health conditions. For example, periodontal disease (commonly known by some as “gum disease”) is correlated with heart disease and diabetes, among other health ailments. Treating periodontal disease can help control or prevent these medical issues. Mercury amalgam fillings (often referred to as silver fillings, despite being composed of about 50% mercury and a smaller amount of silver and other metals) have also been associated with several chronic health issues. Many systemic conditions manifest early in the mouth, which can help lead to an initial diagnosis. They include autoimmune diseases, hormonal issues, nutritional deficiencies, sleep apnea, cancer, and more. Every part of the body is connected, and holistic dentistry focuses on this connection.
A large component of holistic dentistry is prevention. There are many agents that can be used to help to stabilize dental issues. For example, hydroxyapatite is a natural component of tooth enamel that can help to remineralize small cavities and make the enamel more resistant to breakdown. It is a great natural alternative to fluoride. Similarly, ozone (think supercharged oxygen) is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent that can be used to help rid the mouth of oral pathogens and promote healing. Certain vitamins, minerals, and probiotics are also beneficial in creating a healthy oral cavity. Cultivating a balanced and alkaline (non-acidic) oral environment is key to preventing a range of dental issues.
In many instances, dental problems are beyond the point of prevention and require treatment. Larger cavities, active periodontal disease, or dental abscesses are some examples where prevention is no longer an option. If treatment must be rendered, holistic dentists utilize the most non-toxic and biocompatible materials available. For example, rather than using mercury amalgam fillings, BPA-free composite resin fillings and all-ceramic crowns will be substituted. The properties of these materials are more similar to natural teeth and are less likely to cause wear and tear to other teeth, trigger an allergic reaction, or contribute to a systemic issue.
Holistic dentists recognize the uniqueness of every patient. The best treatment options for one may not be the best choice for another. The entire well-being of the patient is taken into consideration. Therefore, treatment can look different from person to person. Holistic dentistry is more than traditional dentistry, it is a dental practice philosophy.