What is holistic dentistry? People are often confused by the term. This isn’t surprising, as it’s not a term that’s regulated, and it can mean different things to different practitioners. However, there are a few things that I believe holistic dentists would say they have in common.
1. Holistic Dentists Treats You as a Whole Person
Dentists are trained to take care of the teeth and help their patients improve and maintain good oral health. Holistic dentists do the same thing, but they go beyond considering a patient’s health solely in terms of their oral health to look at the whole person. They understand that problems that originate in the mouth may show up elsewhere in the body and vice versa. For example, problems with the jaw joint (TMJ) can manifest as back pain, which might be the only symptom that something is out of whack with the joint.
Holistic dentistry is also concerned with finding and treating the root cause of a problem rather than just treating the symptoms of the problem. By understanding how different parts of the body are connected to the mouth, holistic dentists can create a treatment plan that improves not just the teeth, but the patient as a whole.
2. Holistic Dentists Can Fix Problems You Don’t Associate with Dentistry
Obstructive sleep apnea, bedwetting, mouth breathing, migraines, neck pain, tinnitus – what do these have in common? They’re all issues that may be addressed through dental or orthodontic treatment. Though they don’t appear at first glance to have anything to do with dental health, these problems may stem from issues with the mouth. For instance, tinnitus, migraines, and neck pain (as well as back and shoulder pain) may be caused by TMJ problems. Issues with the airway can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, bedwetting in children, and mouth breathing.
Holistic dentists may be more likely to ask about a patient’s sleep habits and stress levels or their child’s behavioural issues because that information might contain clues about what’s going on in the body and help them treat the underlying problem more effectively.
3. Holistic Dentists May Focus on Different Things
While many holistic dentists are mindful of the materials they use, using green and environmentally friendly materials and eschewing fluoride and amalgam fillings, that’s not true for all holistic dentists.
Holistic dentistry is at heart a particular approach to patient care, and that means that dentists who consider themselves “holistic dentists” may be very different from one another in the expertise they have and the care they offer.
In my practice, I consider myself a holistic dentist and my focus is physiologic orthodontics. I use orthodontic treatment to not only straighten teeth but address other issues such as TMJ health, jaw pain, migraine relief, airway problems, sleep apnea, mouth breathing, bedwetting and behavioural problems in kids, and more. My initial training was in TMJ health and facial beauty, but I turned to orthodontics once I realized that was the best way for me to treat my patients using the holistic approach I’ve come to value so much.
Is Holistic Dentistry Right for You?
I believe that holistic dentistry is the right approach for anyone and everyone. Again, it’s not about what materials a dentist uses or what they specialize in – it’s an approach to patient care that looks at the patient as a whole person, rather than as a set of teeth to be cleaned and fixed. If you believe that the body is interconnected and you value working with a healthcare provider who views you as a whole person, then give holistic dentistry a try.