True or false: the human body is made of many unique parts that work together and affect each other.
True or false: dentists only treat oral health and do not consider other parts of the body.
It is well documented in the scientific and healthcare communities that oral health is closely linked to wellness throughout the body. Certainly, a diet high in sugar will ruin both your teeth and your nutrition. Some illnesses lower your immune system and increase your risk of infection in the mouth. And plaque in the mouth can be an indicator of plaque on your arteries. Harmful bacteria in high levels in the mouth can travel through your blood stream and negatively affect the health of the rest of your body. And a good look at your teeth placement could ease regular jaw pain and headaches!
Holistic dentistry is a philosophy (not a single procedure) that considers oral health as a component of the health of the rest of the body. The word holistic actually comes from the word “whole.” Holistic dentists are energetic problem-solvers eager to treat you for overall health, nutrition, and well-being.
Is holistic dentistry right for me?
Holistic dentistry can partner well with your primary medical care. If you are someone who tends to think of yourself as whole being (or you’d like to start), holistic dentistry may be right for you. You may be surprised at what health concerns can be addressed at the dentist. It’s always worth a call to the dentist when you are really seeking answers for a problem. Not every dentist knows the long-term effects of oral care in the overall body, so seek a dentist who specifically encourages “holistic dentistry.”
Don’t be fooled by advertising that simply claims to be holistic. Be sure to look for a dentist whose practices address causes and symptoms throughout the body (especially the face, head, neck, and digestion). Sometimes holistic practices take more time and require lifestyle changes, but the benefits are long lasting and well worth it. If you enjoy taking an active role in your health and wellness, you may enjoy working with a holistic dentist who educates you and engages your opinion.
How will my experience in a holistic dentist office be different?
From cleanings to diagnostics to treatments, some parts of holistic dentistry will feel familiar and some will feel different. Holistic dentists look at the big picture and encourage your participation. When it comes to active care, holistic dentists diverge from conventional dentistry in four common ways.
- They usually don’t use mercury for fillings. Mercury is the strongest and traditionally the most common material for fillings, and is covered by insurance and regulated by the FDA. But the strength of the material is believed to put too much pressure on teeth, and holistic dentists believe exposure to mercury at any level is considered toxic.
- They usually don’t encourage root canals because of toxic chemicals in routine preparation (sterilization) of the root.
- They may or may not support topical fluoride (like rinses and in toothpaste) but are always against ingesting it (like in public water or drops for infants) due to health concerns regarding too much exposure, and lack of consensus on proof that fluoride is necessary.
- They often test biocompatibility of materials used in the mouth (like bridges and fillings) to see how well the material reacts to your mouth and personal biology.
Remember, holistic dentistry is not just a procedure–it’s a whole perspective. To find a dentist whose values match yours, ask good questions! Call Dr. Shih at Waterloo Heights in West Salem to ask about holistic practices and dentistry that benefits your smile and much more!