Dentistry is all about getting a great set of teeth, a disease-free healthy mouth, and of course a beautiful heart-warming smile. Over the period, dentists have focused on how to get a non-functional tooth back to work and serve its purpose. Needless to say, we seem to have over-looked the fact that the oral health has as strong and direct influence on the over-all well-being of the body. But now, there is an over powering paradigm shift towards a more holistic approach. The word ‘holistic’ itself originates from the word ‘the whole’, meaning that now we need to have a definite change in perspective when we look at a diseased tooth.
Who are holistic dentists?
Truly holistic dentists are who educate patients on the importance of overall health and how dentistry can play a role in the overall health. All dentists to some extent see the importance of the mouth in the overall health of an individual. For instance, studies have concluded a link between gum disease and heart health, diabetes, and pregnancies. However, many dentists are not focused in the long-term effects of what dentistry does (or could possibly do) to the whole body. Hence the reason the field of holistic dentistry was formed.
Definition of holistic dentistry
Holistic dentistry, also referred to as biologic dentistry, is an alternative approach that focuses on the use of non-toxic restorative materials for dental work, and emphasizes the unrecognized impact that dental toxins and dental infections may have on a person’s overall health. While traditional dentistry focuses only on the areas above the neck, holistic dentistry looks at the patient as a whole system and how the mouth relates to the rest of the body.
Three concepts of holistic approach in dentistry
- Minimal invasive dentistry
Conservation of healthy tooth structure and ‘respect for the original tissue’ is what minimal invasive dentistry is all about. Prevention of disease, remineralization of the decalcified teeth and minimal intervention of the dentist during the treatment are the key to a holistic approach. For example, a cavity preparation was earlier extended to the unaffected vulnerable areas of the tooth to prevent further caries. Also known as ‘extension for prevention’! Here is where the change has happened. Its ‘prevention from extension’. The dentist makes sure to preserve as much as healthy tooth structure possible to make a small cavity to receive a filling.
- Mercury-less fillings
Yes! Mercury has been completely eliminated from dentistry for ages now. Although, it has been proved that the amount of free-mercury in the ‘silver fillings’ are too minimal to allow toxic changes to our body, we do not want to take any chances. White fillings have taken over the dental office and almost all the patients prefer tooth colored materials.
- Fluoride … boon or bane?
Many miscalculated facts and under researched myths prevail in the society regarding the use of fluorides for prevention of dental caries. It is well known fact that fluoride helps prevent cavities and decay by coming in direct contact with the tooth enamel.
The use of fluoridated toothpastes has been propagated since some time, but are they really necessary? Does everybody need a fluoridated toothpaste? No! If a person’s teeth are naturally resistant, or in other words, their teeth already have high fluoride content, then that person may not need to use fluoridated toothpaste. Some people will have so little risk (e.g., they are getting enough fluoride from other sources, their diet is very low in fermentable carbohydrates, their dental plaque composition is not cariogenic enough) that theoretically they do not need it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the fluoride intake of children under age 6 be monitored, because those years are important for tooth development. Overuse of fluoride during this period can result in enamel fluorosis, a developmental condition of tooth enamel that may appear as white lines or spots on the teeth. Now, talking about professionally applied topical fluorides by dentists, every patient does not need a fluoride therapy! Holistic dentists sparingly recommend topical fluoride varnishes or gels.
Natural drinking water has fluoride. There are also standards since the 1950s for the amount of fluoride in the water. It must be between 0.7 and 1 part per million — this is safe, so parents don’t need to have any concern. Fluoride levels can be easily checked in any city water. And even if people drink well water, it’s recommended that the family get a sample of that well water and ask the dentist to check. The safe methods to use fluoride are available everywhere we just need to use them.
Natural is always the answer
Nature in its abundance has an enormous amount of resources which could keep us healthy. So, as holistic dentists we are focusing on natural, minimal intervention dentistry hoping for a better way of life. Keep smiling!