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Traditional versus Holistic Dentistry

By Gerald Regni, DMD on June 30, 2016

It has oftentimes been said that there is a world of difference between Holistic dentistry and the more traditional form. In reality, there are a handful of differences that make it possible to classify dentists and their practices into either category. However, no two dentists are alike and to categorize one as being holistic while categorizing the other as traditional makes for an over-generalized segmentation of the two types.

The healthcare universe has been divided into distinct professions, specialties, and subspecialties since time immemorial. Ironically, its members realistically know little if anything of what every other member is doing if they are not in the same profession, specialty, or subspecialty. In a sense, dentistry reflects this healthcare universe mentality and is really a micro specialty of sorts.

Holistic Dentistry

In the simplest of terms, Holistic dentistry starts with a person’s mouth to focus on whole body wellness. The Holistic dentist practices a specific type of dentistry that benefits the entire body, not just the gums and teeth. The word “Holistic” refers to the overall philosophy of how oral care plays a significant role in our lives. In no way is it meant to be a reflection of the dentist’s practices or techniques.

A truly holistic dentist will spend time educating his or her patients on how important their overall health is and the role that dentistry can play in it. This is not to say that they do not see how an individual’s mouth, to a certain extent, is important to their patient’s overall health. All dentists, whether Holistic or traditional, do. Studies have shown that there is a relationship between gum or periodontal disease and other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and pregnancy. Thus, oral health is always important. Ignoring it can lead to long term health problems.

Traditional Dentistry

In traditional dentistry, the treatment of tooth decay involves grinding out those parts of the tooth that are diseased followed by the use of synthetic materials to reconstruct it. Furthermore, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride and having bi-annual check-ups in order to prevent tooth decay. By brushing and flossing away bacterial plaque and having the residual scraped off during regularly scheduled check-ups, the dentist is able to control gum or periodontal disease.

Key Issues

Many individuals think about fillings when thinking about Holistic or natural dentistry. However, there are a number of other issues that Holistic and traditional dentists are oftentimes divided on such as:
  • biocompatibility of dental materials
  • endodontic (root canal) therapy
  • mercury fillings
  • the use of fluoride
Holistic dentists are concerned about the materials that are put in your mouth and the impact these could have on your entire body and your overall health. Consequently, the majority of the Holistic dentists in practice today will use different composites when filling teeth as well as different materials for performing other procedures such as bridges, crowns, and so on.

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