What is a Holistic Dentist?
When most people hear the term "Holistic Dentist", they start picturing lava lamps and healing crystals—but there may also be some of you (don’t worry, I won’t ask you to raise your hands!) who may not even know what the word “holistic” means.
And there’s no shame in that!
This chapter was created to answer, in detail, “What is a holistic dentist?” (and what it isn’t). Along the way, I’ll be clearing up major misconceptions and helping you understood the true meaning of holistic dentistry
Holistic Dentistry vs. Traditional Dentistry
First, let’s start with what you’re probably most familiar with already: traditional dentistry. You visit the dentist every six months, they polish your teeth, scrape the crusty stuff off and tell you to wait for the dentist to complete their cursory exam.
You’re told about the cavities that need to be filled, the teeth that need “crowns” (or perhaps even “root canals”), and other news that you were already dreading on the drive over.
As you prepare to leave, you’re given a toothbrush and floss, maybe told to use the floss a little more often, and scheduled for another “cleaning” appointment in six months.
If you take a look at the traditional six-month cycle from an outside perspective, things start to look a bit strange, right?
What’s actually been solved other than a mix of guilt and panic? Even worse, you feel powerless and unable to control the dental habits that could impact your long-term health.
Unfortunately, dentistry has followed a similar sobering trend as other aspects of modern medicine.
You need an ENT for ear problems, an OB/GYN for women’s problems, a dentist for tooth problems—there is a doctor for every little part and piece of our bodies.
Somehow we’ve forgotten that it’s all the same body—that everything is connected!
The other big obsession in Western medicine (and dentistry)? Focusing only on symptoms with complete disregard towards the source or cause of the problem.
In traditional dentistry, you’ll hardly ever hear (or have time to ask) the following questions at your appointment:
- Why did you get that cavity?
- Does it have to do with what you eat or if you are getting enough nutrients from your food?
- Do your hormones affect your teeth?
- How long is that filling going to last and what is it doing to your tooth and body?
These are extremely important questions because they take your entire body into account, not just your teeth.
Thankfully, there IS someone able and ready to answer each of these questions – as well as any other health-related question you’ve ever had but been too afraid to ask your dentist.
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So What Is a Holistic Dentist?
A holistic dentist (or biologic dentist) answers these key questions concerning your overall health by focusing on the treatment of the whole person, rather than just the symptoms of dental disease.
Now, you may be wondering why a dentist, holistic or not, is qualified enough to consult you on the health of your entire body. Here’s a statistic that may surprise you.
Renowned German Physician Dr. Reinhard Voll estimated that Nearly 80% of all illness is related entirely or partially to problems in the mouth.
Your dentist should actually be one of the first people you want to go to in matters of overall health and wellness.
What separates holistic dentists from traditional is that they’ve dedicated their life’s work—and devoted their dentistry training—to learn how to treat their patients from an overall health perspective.
Understanding Holistic Dentistry and the Whole-Body Connection
Believe it or not, some of the most outspoken doctors about this tooth-body connection are cardiologists and doctors who work in cancer centers.
Dr. Thomas Levy, MD, JD has written a book in 2017 titled “The Hidden Epidemic.” It is full of long-standing scientific research pointing to the overwhelming health effects of dental infection.
One of his key takeaways includes the incredibly long (and deadly) list of diseases that have been shown to be connected to dental infection:
- Heart Disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Pregnancy complications
- Pulmonary disease
- Hearing loss
and many more.
I am always fascinated, and sadly so, to hear that patients don’t get this information from their cancer doctors, heart doctors, or even their previous dentist!
Why aren’t more health professionals talking about this with every patient?
Most have been trained to treat dental conditions in a mechanical “drill-and-fill” method.
If only they would have been trained to look for the sources or root causes of the problem, or to look deeper into how these dental problems could be affecting the rest of the body.
What is a Holistic Dentist and What’s The Missing Link In Traditional Dental Training?
Like most other graduate schools, the training received in dental school is basic and very traditional.
The schools make sure their students are able to perform dental procedures before they graduate, along with being able to:
- diagnose dental problems,
- clean teeth,
- fill teeth,
- crown teeth,
- root canal teeth,
- pull teeth
- and replace teeth.
Some dentists never complete another day of training after dental school, so their practices are centered on what they were taught – “fixing” teeth.
Here’s the *key* missing link in traditional dentistry. They simply chose not to invest their time and money into learning more widely about alternative methods and new approaches.
If you are looking for a dentist that will do more than just fix your teeth, there are certain things to look for. Read the list below to learn what to look for when searching for a holistic dental provider.
How Can You Find a Holistic Dentist?
1 – Is it a “Mercury Free” and “Mercury safe” Dental Practice?
These are two different things. “Mercury Free” simply means the dentist does not place mercury-containing fillings, and thankfully, quite a few dentists fall into this category now (it wasn’t always this way).
“Mercury safe” means that all mercury is handled safely and when removing old mercury fillings, you and the dental team will be protected. Make sure that the holistic dentist is MERCURY SAFE!
2 – Do They Have a Special Protocol for Removing Mercury Fillings?
To handle mercury safely, the holistic dental office should have a mercury removal protocol including physical protection for you and the dental team during removal.
This should include a rubber dam, high volume suction, and skin and airway protection, amongst other things.
The office should also have a protocol for you to follow nutritionally to prepare your body to excrete the metals after removal.
Don’t be afraid to ask about these safety precautions upfront. If they are a holistic dentist, they shouldn’t even bat an eye at your request.
3 – Do They Use Digital X-rays?
X-rays have been and will continue to be, a concern in medicine and dentistry, but they are safer now than ever before.
With the introduction of digital x-rays, the radiation used for an x-ray is dramatically reduced. X-rays are essential to proper diagnosis, but should only be done digitally to keep you safe.
4 – What is Their Position on Fluoride?
Fluoride has had a controversial journey. It does make a tooth stronger—however, there are very undesirable side effects of fluoride usage that are often ignored.
Fluoride should be used sparingly and never ingested if possible.
5 – Do They Address Nutrition in Relation to Dental Health?
The dentist has probably talked to you about not eating sugar—but that is just the tip of the nutritional iceberg when it comes to your dental health.
Nutrition can hurt or heal your teeth, bone, and gums.
The entire holistic dental team should be able to guide you to a Mouth-Friendly diet.
6 – What is their position on root canals?
Root canals save teeth—in the short term. Their effect on health in the long term is the real problem.
A very educated and honest approach to root canals, as well as high-tech diagnostic tools like Cone Beam CT scanners, are necessary to really take care of your health and help you avoid a root canal if at all possible
7 – Do They Place Bio-mimetic Dental Restorations?
Biomimetic is just a fancy word for “mimics nature”.
No dental restoration is as good as what you were born with . . . but some are closer to nature than others. A holistic dentist should know about and have in their possession, bio-mimetic solutions.
If you need a dental restoration, make sure it will help preserve and protect your tooth, not just provide a temporary fix.
8 – Do They Have Non-Toxic Recommendations for Dental Products?
As a practicing dentist, I know I get boxes of toothpaste for free from dental product manufacturers. It would be free to give to the patients—but I don’t do it.
Why? Because I don’t recommend many of the ingredients in those products, and neither should any holistic dentist you visit. They should have well-researched alternatives to traditional dental products available for you.
9 – Do They Use a Laser to Diagnose Dental Cavities?
Are you used to your traditional dentist “poking” a tooth to see if it had a cavity? Unfortunately, the poking method (something even I was taught in school) is only 25% accurate. That means I was missing 75% of the cavities while they were still small (and easily healed or treated).
Now, there is a specialized laser that detects cavities—and it is 90% accurate in diagnosis.
Make sure your dentist has these new technologies and knows how to use them in order to help keep you healthy.
10 – What is Their Position on Tooth Remineralization?
There is a lot of outrage on both sides about “healing teeth”
Is it possible? Have dentists been lying about the ability to heal cavities naturally all this time?
There is a truth to this controversy, but the reality lies somewhere in the middle of the conversation.
Make sure your dentist has a protocol to remineralize teeth, or in other words, put minerals back in them to help them heal.
When considering your options of visiting a holistic dentist v.s. a traditional dentist, you should consider how much the dentist will be looking out for your overall health.
Calculate Your Results
When using the ten-question mental checklist above, the holistic dental office should score at least SEVEN OUT OF TEN.
That is how you will know that they are really whole-body and health-focused and that they will continue to commit themselves to learn and master cutting-edge alternative and holistic methods.
The key to this entire chapter?
DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS.
With so many incredible holistic dentists out there, you shouldn’t have to.
Now, that we’ve answered the question “What is a holistic dentist?” let’s get back to some of the basics that will help you best care for your teeth.
In Chapter 2 we’re going to discuss what actually causes cavities (Hint – it’s not just sugar!)
Looking for a holistic dentist for you and your family? Request an appointment with Total Care Dental!
SCHEDULE YOUR "NEW PATIENT DENTAL & WELLNESS EXAM"
More Than Just a Dental Exam!
A Cone Beam CT scan to identify problems related to old root canals, extraction sites, or failed tooth fillings.
Oral x-rays and photos, blood pressure readings, comprehensive gum exam, 40-point intraoral exam, and health-based screenings.
Screenings for problems related to infection, toxic metals, airway problems and/or sleep issues.