Holistic dentistry traces its roots back about 100 years. In that century of changing dental knowledge, holistic dentists have often stirred up some serious controversy–and sometimes the discipline as a whole has turned out to be on the wrong side of history.
However, when we look at these controversies, we can see that each one illuminates important principles about oral and overall health. Even if the specific stances were incorrect, they raised critical questions that needed to be raised.
Holistic dentists have often advocated the removal of metal amalgam fillings because these fillings contaminated the body, causing a host of nonspecific symptoms. To this day, the American Dental Association (ADA) maintains that advocating the removal of amalgam fillings to address these types of symptoms is unethical.
The issue of the safety of metal amalgam fillings is far from resolved, but it is quickly becoming moot. The US, along with 103 other signatories to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, has pledged to reduce or eliminate the use of mercury, including its use in dental fillings.
We recommend the removal of metal amalgam fillings primarily in response to cosmetic and functional complaints.
Root Canal Therapy
One of the forefathers of holistic dentistry, Weston A. Price, was the originator of the theory that numerous degenerative diseases, from cancer to mental illness, could be traced to root canal therapy. To some extent, he wasn’t wrong: oral bacteria involved in a tooth infection or gum disease can spread through the body and contribute to many serious health harms.
But he was wrong to say that root canal therapy was the problem and tooth extraction was the solution. An infected tooth is like other infected body parts: if you can’t control the infection, it is better to amputate than to let the infection spread. But just as infection controls have improved in other areas of medicine, reducing the need for amputations, it has also improved in dentistry. When done properly, root canal therapy can simultaneously eliminate infection and preserve the infected tooth.
Many holistic dentists object to any use of fluoride in the prevention of cavities. They advertise themselves as fluoride-free practices and advocate against the fluoridation of community water supplies.
The truth is that fluoride can be toxic in high doses. But so can anything. Most studies that show the harm of fluoride focus on natural water supplies where the level of fluoride is far higher than that found in community water supplies. It’s important to remember that too much fluoride can be a bad thing, and be aware that people might be exposed to fluoride from many potential sources, including toothpaste, mouthwash, and foods. We should monitor people’s fluoride intake to make sure no-one is getting an overdose.
What Holistic Dentistry Means at élan
If you are looking for a holistic dentist in Tulsa, what matters most is not what holistic dentistry means generally, but what it means at our office. Here are a few holistic principles that we follow in our office.
Mouth, Body, and Spirit
We strongly believe that oral health and overall health are closely linked. Some links are straightforward physiologic connections, like the impact of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) on the neck or the way jaw position can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.
Others are well-documented, even if not fully understood, like the association between gum disease and heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Still others, though, are less clear-cut, like the relationship between your smile and your self-image, or the emerging association between gum disease and depression.
We firmly believe these connections are real and significant, even when we can’t quite explain the mechanism behind them. We also believe that it’s important to practice dental care that is compassionate and comfortable–fostering positive feelings can lead to more positive outcomes.
Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Things that you introduce into your mouth don’t stay in the mouth: they travel through the body. Therefore, we have a responsibility to carefully evaluate all restorative materials we use and make sure that these materials don’t have the potential to introduce toxins. We pledge to perform due diligence in investigating these materials, and to adjust our practice if we become aware that materials and/or techniques are toxic.
Oral Health as a Lifestyle
Many people think that taking care of your oral health means simply brushing, flossing, and (maybe) seeing your dentist once or twice a year. But the truth is that taking care of your oral health involves being aware of everything you introduce into your mouth.
We understand that behaviors like smoking and smokeless tobacco use can have a serious impact on your oral health, increasing your risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss. And we recognize that consuming large quantities of sugar can increase your risk of cavities. But that’s just the beginning. When you are making lifestyle choices, it’s important to factor in your oral health in your decisions. If you do, you’re more likely to enjoy ongoing good oral and overall health.
Are You Looking for a Holistic Dentist in Tulsa?
Are you looking for a dentist that offers comfortable, compassionate, and comprehensive dental care in Tulsa? That’s what holistic dentistry means to us, and we invite you to see how this approach to dentistry can improve your oral and overall health. Please call (918) 528-3330 today for an appointment at élan by Meghan Hodges.