Skeptical about current scientific methods? If so, holistic dentistry might be a more comfortable option for you. Practitioners in this field blend dental knowledge with traditional healing practices to promote a preventative approach to dentistry and avert tooth decay, disease and loss. Holistic dentistry (also called alternative or biological dentistry) focuses on the relationship between the mouth and the rest of the body.
· Believe that proper nutrition, including the avoidance of certain foods, is crucial to oral health
· Renounce the use of unnatural and potentially toxic dental devices and treatments, such as mercury fillings and fluoride treatments
· Conduct bio-compatibility tests to determine which restorative material matches best with the needs of the individual patient
· Study the balance between the mouth and the rest of the body
· Caution against root canal treatment, as bacteria trapped within the treated tooth can migrate to other areas of the body, including vital organs
A major complaint of holistic dentistry is that traditional dental practices focus on aesthetically pleasing "quick fixes" instead of on the underlying root of a condition, which can often be found elsewhere in the body. (This is particularly true for orthodontic problems.) Holistic dentists worry about how the mouth affects the overall balance and harmony of the body. An imbalance in one part of the body can lead to an imbalance in others, holistic practitioners believe; thus, complications in the mouth can result in a variety of other health problems throughout the body as well. Conversely, correcting a problem in the mouth will reap benefits in other areas. For example, holistic dentists believe that orthodontic treatment should not only straighten out a smile, but also ensure the muscles of the face, head and neck properly are properly aligned—a practice called orthopedic orthodontics. As well, correcting jaw problems, for example, can alleviate problems in the head, neck and spine. Seeking such balance in the body is an emerging practice known as Dento-Somatic Integration—a field dedicated to using the body's sense of balance and harmony to eliminate chronic pain.
A major component of holistic dentistry is seeking alternatives to potentially toxic dental treatments. For example, many holistic dentists may choose natural forms of anesthesia. A popular method is acupuncture anesthesia, in which tiny acupuncture needles are placed at various points on the body prior to and during the procedure. This method uses the body's electrical system to create the required numbness, allowing the client to remain alert, yet comfortable and relaxed. Holistic dentists also protest the use of mercury, believing it to damage the nervous system and suppress the immune system over time.
Holistic dentists may work closely with other alternative practitioners, such as chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists, to achieve wellness throughout the body as a whole.