What is a Holistic Dentist?
A holistic dentist is a medical professional who adopts alternative dental practices. Usually, this means they use natural remedies as treatment options. Above all, they believe in the principles of holistic medicine. That means they believe someone’s dental health is connected to their overall health.
Holistic dentists are general dentists who have a dental degree and dental license. They typically specialize in preventing dental issues such as gum disease and cavities. However, instead of prescribing traditional medicines, they offer natural treatments and care. As licensed dentists, they combine alternative methods with traditional techniques when needed.
For a holistic dentist, any disease that affects your body affects your oral health. They also encourage personal responsibility for oral hygiene.
Holistic dentistry may also be known as:
- Natural dentistry
- Biological dentistry
- Alternative dentistry
- Preventive dentistry
What Does a Holistic Dentist Do?
Just like a traditional dentist, a holistic dentist takes care of a patient’s teeth and oral health. As a type of general dentist, a holistic dentist focuses on:
- Medicinal treatments
However, a holistic dentist might also recommend extra treatments, such as:
- Changes in your nutrition
- Herbology (using herbs to treat disease)
- Spiritual healing
- Cold laser treatment for temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
Holistic dentists diagnose and treat conditions like tooth decay, gum disease, tooth infection, enamel degradation, or dry mouth. Instead of focusing on dental cleaning, a holistic dentist offers education to encourage personal oral hygiene.
Unlike general dentists, holistic dentists do not favor the use of fluoride treatments. They are also opposed to using amalgam materials for dental implants. Amalgams contain mercury and may cause post-placement sensitivity. There is also a risk of bacteria remnants, which may lead to secondary dental surgery.
Education and Training
Holistic dentists complete the same dental training as traditional dentists. Any general dentist must have attended an accredited (approved) dental school. Holistic dentists further their training by taking specialized courses in holistic healing.
In order to be a licensed dentist, the person must have:
- A bachelor’s degree
- A four-year DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DMD (doctor of medicine in dentistry) degree
- Passed the National Board Dental Examination
- Had a clinical examination conducted by a state or regional board of dentistry (some state exceptions exist)
Holistic dentists must also follow state licensing requirements. Each state has its own process.
What Conditions Does a Holistic Dentist Treat?
A holistic dentist offers specialist oral care in addition to general oral care. A holistic dentist might also offer oral cancer screenings, acupuncture, massage, or ozone therapy. Therefore, it may cost more to see a holistic dentist. Prices in your area may vary.
Typically, holistic dentists offer the following services:
- Composite fillings
- Dental checkups and cleanings
- Whole health evaluation
- Education in oral health techniques
- Alternative treatment for head, jaw, and neck pain
Composite fillings are tooth-colored and help fill in a cavity. Unlike amalgam fillings, they don’t discolor the tooth or contain mercury. Other benefits of composite fillings include:
- Do not need drilling because they bond to existing teeth
- Made from non-toxic materials
- Similar in appearance to dental enamel
Holistic dentists do not treat your dental health as separate from physical health. Instead, they focus on the impacts your whole health might have on your oral health and vice versa. Therefore, having a whole-health focus means a holistic doctor might encourage diagnostic screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — as well as advise on nutrition to combat these problems.
A holistic dentist often also provides education and training on proper oral hygiene, such as flossing and tooth brushing. A proper understanding of oral health prevents tooth decay and promotes healthy gums.
Reasons to See a Holistic Dentist
You could see a holistic dentist for a number of reasons. As with any level of care, a dentist should fit your needs. If you are interested in alternative medicine, a holistic dentist is a good choice. Since they are licensed and trained dentists, they can provide needed services while using alternative techniques and natural remedies.
If you are surgery averse, a holistic dentist uses surgery as a last resort. They track your health and ensure a state of progress before advising surgery.
Finally, if you have persistent issues that do not respond to traditional treatment, a holistic dentist may be for you. Holistic therapy, also known as integrative therapy, provides other options when conventional medicine by a licensed practitioner is limited.
What to Expect from a Holistic Dentist
When you visit a holistic dentist’s office, it may look similar to other dental offices — with a warm, welcoming atmosphere and colored or wallpapered walls. However, other experiences differ. For example, a holistic dentist may ask about your current dietary habits, physical health, or oral hygiene. They may also do a series of tests, such as:
- X-ray (if needed)
- Blood sugar reading
- Blood pressure reading
- Review of past dental and health problems
A holistic dentist will order X-rays less often than traditional dentists. Depending on your reason for visiting, they may suggest them. They may also take your blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Likewise, they discuss your medical history and your goals for your overall physical and dental health. Once they complete the tests, they recommend a course of action.
Holistic dentists provide care for overall physical, spiritual, and emotional health as well. For example, if you’re experiencing bruxism (teeth grinding), they’ll likely provide education in stress management, recommend a change in pre-bedtime activities, or prescribe a nightguard if those methods do not help.