Updated on February 9, 2024
7 min read

Holistic (Biological) Dentistry Explained

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Key Takeaways

  • Holistic dentistry is a subtype of dental medicine that uses alternative natural treatments
  • Holistic dentists have the same basic credentials as non-holistic dentists; they are also part of the Holistic Dental Association (HDA)
  • Holistic dentistry is a good alternative for people concerned about certain chemicals or materials used in traditional dentistry
  • Holistic dentistry may put you at risk for tooth decay and other health risks
  • Talk to your dental insurance provider; they may cover the cost of holistic dental treatment

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
dentist holding dental operatory light over patient

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: 

1. Fluoride Use

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 the following instead of fluoride:

  • Xylitol
  • Calcium
  • Mineral creams
  • Oral rinses and powders
  • Coconut oil
  • Ozone therapy

2. Root Canals

Traditional dentists perform a root canal to save a tooth. On the other hand, holistic dentists believe that root canals ‘embalm’ dead teeth.

There is no scientific evidence to support that root canals are harmful to a person’s health.3 Despite this, holistic dentists believe root canals can cause unwanted health issues and prefer to extract teeth.

3. Natural Remedies 

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

4. 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. 

5. Diet 

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

6. 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.

7. Minimally Invasive Approach 

Holistic dentists believe in minimally invasive approaches and always choose the safest option.4 Their goal is to preserve as much natural tissue as possible. This means trying not to use drills to prevent unwanted tissue loss.5

8. 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

What are the Risks of Holistic Dental Care? 

All holistic dentists should have the same basic credentials as non-holistic dentists by passing licensing exams and earning a dental degree. However, holistic dental care isn’t without its drawbacks.

It’s important to do your due diligence when looking for any form of healthcare, including holistic dentists.

Some of the concerns traditional dentists may have regarding holistic dental care include: 9,10

1. Tooth Decay

Many studies indicate that fluoride is the key to preventing and controlling tooth decay, enamel health, and more.9,10 However, because holistic dentists prefer to avoid it, there may be an added risk of tooth decay.

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

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

2. Unnecessary Tooth Extraction

Because holistic dentists don’t believe in root canals, they are more likely to recommend a tooth extraction. On the other hand, a traditional dentist may still be able to save a with a root canal.

3. Interaction with Prescription Medication

Holistic dentists typically prescribe herbs to handle inflammation and diseases. They’ll also ask you for any prescription medication that you’re taking before recommending herbs. However, these herbs may cause an unexpected interaction because they’re understudied.

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. However, people who share the same beliefs as holistic dentists may choose to visit one. 

Fluoride

People concerned about the risks of fluoride may work well with a holistic dentist instead of a traditional dentist. Holistic dentists avoid using fluoride because they believe it can cause a number of health conditions, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Impaired brain development
  • Fluorosis

Furthermore, fluoride in excess can be harmful because it’s a chemical that the body may not absorb well. Although children are at risk of swallowing toothpaste containing fluoride, most of the time, people won’t ingest harmful levels of it.11 It is important to note that most scientific studies agree that the overall benefits outweigh any potential harm.

Mercury 

Holistic dentists don’t use amalgam fillings, which are silver fillings containing 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 interested in alternative therapies may choose to visit a holistic dentist.

However, more studies are required to determine holistic dentistry’s safety, benefits, and effectiveness over traditional dentistry.  

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.

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 also be different. Holistic dentists may offer spiritual or energetic healing alongside 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
  • Dental crowns
  • Oral health education

What are the Costs of Holistic Dentistry Services?

ProcedureCost
Checkups$190
Cleanings$190 to $300
Fillings$150 to $1,100 per tooth
Dental crowns$600 to $3000

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 February 9, 2024
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
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. “Eco-friendly green dentistry: The future of dentistry?” Contemp Clin Dent, 2016.
  2. Water Fluoridation and Cancer Risk” American Cancer Society, 2021.
  3. Root Canal Safety Talking Points”. American Association of Endodontists.
  4. Biological Dentistry vs. Holistic Dentistry: What’s the Difference?” American Dental Association.
  5. Deb, S., and Chana, S. “Biomaterials in Relation to Dentistry.” Front Oral Biol, 2015.
  6. Holistic Dental Association
  7. International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine.”
  8. Rathore 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, 2018.
  10. Water Fluoridation Basics.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  11. Ullah et al. “Potential fluoride toxicity from oral medicaments: A review” Iran J Basic Med Sci., 2017.
  12. About Fluoride” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
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