Holistic dentistry also called biological dentistry, biologic dentistry, alternative dentistry, unconventional dentistry, or biocompatible dentistry is the use of complementary and alternative medicine for dentistry. Biologic dentist community is diverse in its practices and approaches.
Most common points of biological dentistry include
Strong opposition to the use of amalgam materials in dental fillings.
Nonsurgical approaches to gum disease, Belief that root canal treatments may endanger systemic health of the patient through the spread of trapped dental bacteria to the body.
Many biologic dentists also regard water fluoridation unfavorably.
Many practices and opinions among biologic dentists are criticized as not being evidence-based by the mainstream dental community and skeptics of alternative medicine in general. Generally speaking, such biologic dentists charge far more for the same dental treatment compared to mainstream dentists, as they consider themselves to be providing specialized care.
The biologic Dental Network defines the field as: "an approach to Dentistry that promotes health and wellness instead of the treatment of disease. This approach to Dentistry encompasses both modern science and knowledge drawn from the worlds great traditions on natural healing...Biological Dentistry acknowledges and deals with the mind, body, and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "Teeth".
Biological dentistry focuses on the health of not just your teeth, but your entire state of physical and emotional health, too. In biological dentistry, dentists use natural therapies to prevent and treat oral disease. They may even advise care that emphasizes overall health such as better nutrition, alcohol in moderation, or smoking cessation.
Biological dentistry sees oral health as essential for overall health because the mouth is the portal for many infections to enter the bloodstream. Oral health is of paramount importance. Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk for and worsen the effects of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and even stroke. It can also lead to depression since poor oral health can affect a person’s self-esteem.
Biological dentists attempt to coin the following basic principles as being unique to biologic dentistry.
Proper nutrition for the prevention and reversal of degenerative dental disease
Avoidance and elimination of toxins from dental materials
Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite problems=physical imbalance)
Prevention and treatment of gum disease at its biological basis
The Biologic Dental Association writes of that organization's founding: "In 1978, concerned, dedicated dentists came together to share their common interest in treatment modalities that were not included in dental school curriculum. Some of these modalities were very new and others were very old; the one thing that they shared in common was they offered additional options for treatment. These dentists wished to establish an organization that would provide a forum for the development and sharing of health promoting therapies. A shift from the early emphasis of the dentist on modalities to a consideration of the attitudes and feelings of the patient and the dentist has occurred. But the primary goal to teach and to learn has not changed since the founding members first met
Before using certain materials, a biological dentist will perform biocompatibility tests. This is said to help determine if the substances are compatible with your body and immune system.
The materials are all natural. For instance, a biological dentist might give you an herbal mouthwash for gingivitis. But a traditional dentist may prescribe a medicated mouthwash called chlorhexidine, which is scientifically proven to reduce gingivitis.
Practitioners of holistic or biological dentistry can vary a great deal in terms of the techniques and services they offer. While many conventional dentists recognize there is significant merit to different preventative approaches to dentistry, some of these dentists have criticized holistic practices for lack of efficacy of approach and false marketing in their practices
Biological dentists and traditional dentists are both board certified dentists who graduated from an accredited dental school. While their training is the same, their views on oral health differ. Biological dentists focus on oral and overall health, while traditional dentists focus only on oral health. Because of this difference in focus, biological dentists often won’t use harsh metals or mercury in their treatment. If they feel it could be bad for your overall health, they try to avoid it.
According to mainstream dental organization, Holistic or Biological dentistry is a superficial, self-designated term adopted by a relatively small number of practitioners who advocate "health-promoting therapies not taught in dental school." It is not a recognized specialty such as endo or periodontics, nor requires any additional formal training.
Any dentist can call themselves a holistic or biologic dentist, or any other alluring name. Psychic dentist anyone? Forming proponent organizations like The Holistic Dental Association or even more impressive sounding International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, many of their member-dentists do not accept mainstream dentistry, believing in an ongoing conspiracy to mask any evidence of harm from traditional treatments.
Research has shown that amalgam or mercury fillings are safe, and they are approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source and backed by the American Dental Association (ADA). However Biological dentists believe these fillings can be harmful, so they don’t use them. Biological dentists may also promote removing mercury fillings if necessary.
As with conventional clinicians, biologic dentists can vary greatly in their philosophies and practices. Typically, biologic dentist oppose the use of certain materials and agents deemed toxic like amalgam and fluoride, while rejecting some well established, efficacious therapies such as gum surgery and root canals.
While some biologic dentist avoid using amalgam, not unreasonable given vast improvements in composite restorative materials, others falsely alarm patients by making unscientific claims regarding toxicity from tiny amounts of mercury vapour released from silver fillings. Biologic dentists often recommend replacement of sound amalgams, considered an unethical practice by both American and Canadian Dental Associations.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral long proven to help prevent tooth decay. While one may argue against adding it to public water supplies, instructing people to avoid fluoridated toothpaste is unscientific and irresponsible.
Biologic dentists often engage in conversation regarding lifestyle, nutrition, and emotional well-being. Some prescribe blood and hair tests to measure for body chemistry imbalances while marketing expensive ‘detoxification’ formulas and vitamin supplements. Lacking meaningful evidence, they may espouse one type of diet, typically vegan or plant-based as being superior for the maintenance of healthy gums. Alleging specialized care, some charge higher fees than mainstream dentists while promoting unconventional treatments.
In today’s ever- increasing health conscious world, more consumers are seeking out alternative, pseudoscientific treatments. While many biologic(holistic) dentists are undoubtedly dedicated practitioners, patients should not hesitate to get second opinions regarding certain treatments that fall outside the scope of mainstream dentistry. And that’s the whole truth!
The Holistic Dental Association tends to be more open to spiritual healing and energy healing than the IABDM, and the IABDM is a larger organization. That said, many Holistic/Biological dentists belong to both organizations, and use the term holistic and biological interchangeably. Neither holistic nor biological dentists need a specialized education in order to call themselves holistic or biological
Some critics of biological dentistry practice also note that the fees charged by such practitioners are generally several times higher than those of mainstream dentists. Some claim that alternative dentistry is merely the exploitation of niche health beliefs and gimmicks to justify higher fees.
A potential example of this is the Cavitat, a non validated ultrasound device purported to be able to detect alleged lesions described "cavitations", or the non evidence based utilization of breathing apparatus by certain "biologic dentists" during removal of amalgam fillings, intended to reduce mercury toxicity by eliminating inhaled airborne material. However, others argue that such practices are not representative of the entire field of holistic dentistry.