Tales From The Operatory: Holistic Dentistry



The history of holistic dentistry begins with the invention of amalgam tooth fillings in 1819, in England. Amalgam fillings are cheaply made, easy to source, and last for a long time, so the use of these fillings has become commonplace.

Studies have since been published that have linked them to elevated mercury levels in the body. The fillings are made from metal that contains 500,000 parts per million of mercury, and it’s possible that this mercury can be absorbed by the body. However, scientific evidence is in agreement that small amounts of mercury released and absorbed in this way are not a risk to human health.

Since the early 1900s, several organizations have been established to combat the use of amalgam fillings in everyday dentistry. Instead, they promote the importance of the link between oral and overall health, dubbing this practice “holistic dentistry”. Some organizations promoting the practice of holistic dentistry include the Holistic Dental Association (HDA) and the International Associate of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).

Taking a holistic approach to general dentistry means taking your wider health into account, no matter what kind of procedure you’re considering. It’s an alternative approach to dentistry that considers your oral health as part of your overall well-being.

Holistic medicine has a long history dating back to Hippocrates, the Greek physician often referred to as the father of modern medicine, who, in 400 BCE, radically proposed that the causes of disease were natural rather than supernatural. At its core, holistic medicine is dedicated to treating patients as a whole. Western medicine, also referred to as traditional medicine, typically draws on medical technology to treat symptoms.

During the centuries between Hippocrates and the modern world, holistic medicine and Western medicine have often clashed as two separate ideologies. Critics of holistic practice often focus on a lack of scientific basis for treatment, while those who espouse the holistic approach point to traditional medicine’s tendency to treat symptoms in isolation without considering the whole body and the root causes of symptoms.

Today, holistic medicine is a sprawling practice that encompasses treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, nutritional counseling, supplementation, naturopathy, and more. Some aspects of holistic medicine are backed by scientific evidence and some by anecdotal evidence, while some practices labeled holistic are born from pseudoscience.

Holistic dentistry is not a recognized specialty, which means its definition is up for interpretation by practitioners. At its most basic level, holistic dentistry is about looking at a patient’s overall health as it relates to their mouth and whole body.

Some dentists actively market their holistic approach, attracting patients who are interested in more natural methods and building a referral network with other holistic medical providers. Some holistic dentists are cash-paying only.

Others adopt a hybrid approach, submitting claims to patients’ insurance companies for care that will be covered and accepting out-of-pocket payments for treatments not covered by insurance.

Other dentists who use holistic methods go by entirely different names. For example, some practitioners might consider themselves biological dentists or natural dentists.  Others may market an integrative approach. While the terms may differ, “holistic,” “biological,” “natural” and “integrative” dentists can all be under the same holistic umbrella.

Here at Columbia Dental, we believe in a holistic approach to Western and traditional dentistry.  We believe both in biomimicry and biocompatibility.  Biomimic examples include vitamins, organic food, avoiding ultra-processed foods, or avoiding mouthwash containing phenyl or alcohol like Listerine and many others).  Biocompatibility incorporates implants that integrate into the bone, composite fillings, and even amalgam filling below the gum line which doesn’t cause inflammation.  Columbia Dental believes antibiotics on their own are not good for you, but combined with treatment, antibiotics can be an effective tool.

Columbia Dental believes things the body easily incorporates, making use of its properties (Biomimic) or the body easily integrates with, becoming part of the body are best for you (Biocompatible).

Columbia Dental wants what is best for you, inside and out.



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