In this article
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
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:
Some people prefer holistic dentists, while others still prefer conventional dental techniques. Here are the main differences between these two types of dentists:
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:
Traditional dentists perform a root canal to save a tooth. On the other hand, holistic dentists believe that root canals ‘embalm’ dead teeth.
Holistic dentists believe 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Additional treatments that a holistic dental office may offer include things such as:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Holistic dentists avoid using fluoride. They believe it can cause a number of health conditions, such as:
People concerned about these risks may visit a holistic dentist instead of a traditional dentist. Furthermore, fluoride in excess can be harmful because it's a chemical that may not be absorbed well by the body.
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.
Holistic dentists also don’t use amalgam fillings, which 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 interested in alternative therapies may choose to visit a holistic dentist. However, more studies are required to determine the safety, benefits, and effectiveness of holistic dentistry over traditional 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. For instance, 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 also different. Holistic dentists may offer spiritual or energetic healing alongside traditional dentistry practices.
Holistic dentists are trained to treat the same conditions as general dentists. But their techniques differ. People can visit a holistic dentist for:
Additional standard treatments a holistic dentist may offer include:
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.
In this article