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Holistic (Biological) Dentistry Explained

Hana Ames Headshot
Written by
Hana Ames
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
12 Sources Cited

What is Holistic Dentistry?

Holistic dentistry is a subtype of dental medicine. These types of dentists pursue a slightly different path than traditional dentists.

Other names for holistic dentistry include:1

  • Alternative dentistry
  • Biocompatible dentistry
  • Eco-friendly (green) dentistry
  • Integrative dentistry
  • Natural dentistry
  • Preventive dentistry
  • Progressive dentistry
  • Unconventional dentistry

Holistic Dentistry vs. Traditional Dentistry

Similar to traditional dentists, holistic dentists are licensed dental professionals. They receive training in all of the same procedures as traditional dentists. 

However, holistic dentists take a whole body approach to dentistry. A traditional dentist aims to fix the oral health issues at hand. 

A holistic dentist, on the other hand, takes external factors into consideration, such as: 

  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivities to dental materials

Some people prefer holistic dentists, while others still prefer conventional dental techniques. Here are the main differences between these two types of dentists: 

Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help prevent tooth decay. Holistic dentists don’t use or recommend fluoride treatments. They believe there is a link between fluoride and many health concerns. 

Some older research suggested there was a link between fluoride and cancer. However, there is limited evidence to suggest these links.2 Holistic dentists recommend using xylitol instead of fluoride to help fight cavities. 

Many studies indicate that fluoride is the key to the prevention and control of tooth decay, enamel health, and more.9,10

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benefits of using fluoride include:

  • Fewer and less severe cavities
  • Less need for fillings and tooth extractions
  • Less pain and suffering from tooth decay12

Root Canals

Whereas traditional dentists perform a root canal to try to save a tooth, holistic dentists believe that root canals ‘embalm’ dead teeth. They believe that root canals can cause unwanted health issues, and prefer to extract teeth.

There is no scientific evidence to support that root canals are harmful to a person’s health.3

Natural Remedies 

Holistic dentists often prescribe herbal products to treat dental issues. For example, they may recommend special toothpastes made with all-natural ingredients. Alternatively, they may suggest homeopathic remedies, such as Chamomilla for a toothache.

Biocompatibility Testing 

A traditional dentist typically uses materials that are deemed safe by the American Dental Association (ADA). 

A holistic dentist runs sensitivity tests to ensure a patient has no negative reactions to a dental material prior to use. 

Diet 

A holistic dentist may recommend changes in a person’s diet to remedy any issues they have. They might suggest a whole foods diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. 

Lifestyle

In addition to diet and general health, holistic dentists look at a person’s lifestyle. They might advise them to quit smoking or drinking alcohol. 

If someone grinds their teeth, a holistic dentist may also recommend something like yoga to reduce stress.

Minimally Invasive Approach 

Holistic dentists believe in minimally invasive approaches and always choosing the safest option.4 They aim to promote preservation of the natural tissue, where possible. This means trying not to use drills to prevent unwanted tissue loss.5

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Additional treatments that a holistic dental office may offer include things such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Energy healing
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnosis
  • Nutritional advice
  • Massage therapy
  • Stress management
  • Whole health evaluations

Holistic Dentistry vs. Biological Dentistry

In dentistry, the terms holistic and biological are often used interchangeably. They have the same basic principles and believe in minimally invasive approaches.

While holistic and biological dentistry are similar, there are some differences. 

First of all, they have different associated organizations. Holistic dentists are likely to be part of the Holistic Dental Association (HDA). In contrast, biological dentists are likely to be involved in the International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine.6, 7

The types of patients these dentists care for can be different too. Holistic dentists may also offer spiritual or energetic healing alongside more traditional dentistry practices. 

What Conditions Does a Holistic Dentist Treat?

Holistic dentists are trained to treat the same conditions as general dentists. But their techniques differ. People can visit a holistic dentist for:

  • Tooth decay
  • Infections
  • Tooth pain

Additional standard treatments a holistic dentist may offer include:

  • Checkups
  • Cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Oral health education

What are the Benefits of Holistic Dental Care?

Although holistic dentistry has become popular in recent years, there is limited research on its safety, benefits, and effectiveness. But people who share the same beliefs as holistic dentists may choose to visit one. 

Fluoride

Holistic dentists avoid using fluoride. They believe it can cause a number of health conditions, such as cancer, impaired brain development, and a condition called fluorosis. People who share these concerns may choose to visit a holistic dentist to stay away from additional fluoride.

Fluoride in excess can be harmful. It is a chemical that may not be absorbed well by the body. Most of the time, people will not ingest harmful levels of fluoride. Children are at risk of doing so as they may swallow toothpaste containing the mineral.11

It is important to note that most scientific studies agree that the overall benefits outweigh any potential harm.

Mercury 

Holistic dentists also don’t use amalgam fillings. These are silver fillings that contain mercury. They prefer to use white composite fillings rather than expose people to potential risks associated with mercury.8 

Many holistic dentists recommend safely removing amalgam fillings and replacing them with white fillings.

People who are interested in alternative therapies may choose to visit a holistic dentist. But more studies are required to determine the safety, benefits, and effectiveness of holistic dentistry over traditional dentistry.  

What are the Risks of Holistic Dental Care? 

Holistic dental care isn’t without its drawbacks. Some of the concerns traditional dentists may have regarding holistic dental care include:

  • Fluoride fluoride has been shown to prevent tooth decay, but since holistic dentists prefer to avoid it, there may be an added risk of tooth decay.9,10
  • Root canals because holistic dentists don’t believe in root canals, they are more likely to recommend a tooth extraction. A traditional dentist may be able to save the tooth.
  • Prescription conflicts — some holistic dentists prescribe herbs. Most of the time, they will ask about any prescription medications you are taking to ensure there are no interactions. Many herbs are understudied, so unexpected interactions may happen. 

All holistic dentists should have the same basic credentials as a non-holistic dentist by passing licensing exams and earning a dental degree. It’s important to do your due diligence when looking for any form of healthcare, including holistic dentists.

Do Holistic Dentists Accept Insurance? 

If you have dental insurance, your coverage may extend to holistic dental care. 

Typically, a holistic dentist is listed as a regular dentist. This might make it easier to convince your insurer to cover treatment. However, it can also make it more difficult to find a holistic dentist in your network. You will have to search using keywords like ‘mercury-free’ or ‘fluoride free.’

Keep in mind that most holistic dentists offer non-traditional treatments, which may not be covered by insurance. Contact your insurance company and the dental office before following through with any treatments.

Always do your research before undergoing any medical treatments. Discuss treatment options with your dentist, and feel free to get a second opinion if you’re not confident in the recommended treatment.

Last updated on April 5, 2022
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 5, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Damle, S. G. “Eco-friendly green dentistry: The future of dentistry?”. Contemp Clin Dent [serial online] 2016
  2. Water Fluoridation and Cancer Risk” American Cancer Society, 28 Jul. 2015
  3. Root Canal Safety Talking Points”. American Association of Endodontists, n.d.
  4. Biological Dentistry vs. Holistic Dentistry: What’s the Difference?” American Dental Association, n.d.
  5. Deb, S. & Chana, S. “Biomaterials in Relation to Dentistry”. Front Oral Biol, 20 Jul. 2015
  6. Holistic Dental Association”. n.d.
  7. International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine”. N.d.
  8. Rathore, M. et al. “The Dental Amalgam Toxicity Fear: A Myth or Actuality”. Toxicology International, May-Aug. 2012
  9. Pollick, H. “The Role of Fluoride in the Prevention of Tooth Decay”. Pediatr Clin North Am, Oct. 2018
  10. Water Fluoridation Basics”, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Oct. 2021
  11. Ullah, R. et al “Potential fluoride toxicity from oral medicaments: A review” Iran J Basic Med Sci., Aug.2017
  12. About Fluoride” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Mar. 2019
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