Published on April 4th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans
Holistic Oral Care
Increasing evidence surrounding the potential human and environmental hazards of conventional dental techniques has sparked a flurry of alternatives within traditional dental practice. Holistic dentistry promotes preventative oral care and maintenance, and an environmental commitment to reducing waste and using non-toxic materials.
The holistic dentist eschews the use of mercury and silver-based amalgam fillings and traditional x-rays, which create waste chromium and require other hazardous processing chemicals, in lieu of safe, biocompatible filling materials and digital imaging.
Holistic dentistry—also known as alternative or biological dentistry—is committed to an approach in which the workings of the teeth and mouth are weighed against the overall balance and harmony of the patient’s body.
A holistic dentist believes that an imbalance in one part of a person’s body can result in health problems in other parts of the body. Because of this, the relationship between a patient’s mouth and his or her body must be studied in order to diagnose and treat any problems.
New evidence suggests that problems in the mouth and with the teeth may be the cause for as much as 80% of degenerative diseases in the body. For this reason, alternative dentistry cautions against root canal treatments due to the belief that bacteria trapped within the tooth canal may poison the bloodstream and wreck havoc on the immune system.
Considerable research links the risk of heart disease and strokes with periodontal disease. This research underscores why biological dentists make it their responsibility to diagnose and treat gum disease at its earliest appearance.
- An effective, non-surgical approach to gum care called biological microscopic monitoring involves the analysis of bacterial plaque from under a patient’s gum line.
- Knowing how much pathogenic bacteria is present can allow for early assessment of gum disease risk, and natural remedies, such as Vitamin C and tea tree oil gel, can be prescribed to combat this tendency. If gum disease is detected early, it can be treated and reversed.
Natural dental care, as compared to conventional dentistry, is not about the quick fix. The traditional orthodontist’s goal is to straighten teeth that are crooked in order to create a visibly attractive smile. Holistic orthodontists, on the other hand, use:
- a practice called orthopedic orthodontics, which involves also assessing the muscles of the patient’s face, head, and neck to be sure that they are properly aligned.
- natural forms of anesthesia, such as acupuncture, during dental procedures, which utilize the body’s natural electrical system and spare the body the unnecessary stresses and risks that traditional anaesthesia presents.
Mercury is the second most toxic material known to man. It accumulates in the human body over time and has been shown to have adverse effects on both the nervous and immune systems.
Although mercury was first designated as a toxic poison by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 1991, it is still used today in amalgam fillings.
Scientific research shows that mercury vapor “outgasses” and can be absorbed into the body for the entire life of a filling. Recent studies at the University of Kentucky show a high correlating level of mercury in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients.
Holistic dentists reject the use of hazardous dental devices and treatments such as mercury-based fillings, and they also have procedures for safely removing toxic fillings from patients’ mouths. Preventative care includes nutritional support and education about good oral hygiene to counteract tooth decay and periodontal disease. Alternative dentistry does not promote the use of fluoride.
For more information on mercury toxicity and to find holistic and other alternative dentists near you, visit:
- Talk International’s global directory
- The Holistic Dental Association’s Web site
- The Holistic Dental Network’s Directory, which lists practicing holistic dentists by state and lists many resource links related to natural dentistry.
Proponents of fluoride trumpet it’s success as the best possible prevention for tooth decay. Fluoride’s purported “superpowers” have resulted in its routine additions to toothpaste and to the water supply since the 1940’s. But fluoride’s history is sordid…
In the late 1930’s, fluoride, the waste by-product of the industrial manufacture of explosives, aluminum, and fertilizers, was considered a toxic, hazardous waste product that was expensive and difficult to dispose of properly.
The “discovery” that fluoride reduced cavities, and therefore should be added to all drinking water, was made by a single scientist employed by the American Aluminum Company, the largest producer of fluoride waste at the time. Advertising campaigns to instill public acceptance of fluoride were heavily funded by U.S. industrialists and backed by the American Dental Association.
To this day, despite growing evidence that fluoride is harmful to human health, approximately 43 out of 50 states in the U.S. add fluoride to their water supply.
To find out if your community water supply is fluoridated, you can call the municipal water works nearest you and ask. If it is, you may want to use a filtration system for your drinking water.
While it is important to choose a dentist who supports a preventative approach to your natural oral care, there is much that you can do in your own dental hygiene regimen to maintain a healthy set of choppers.
- Daily brushing and flossing are two simple steps that you can take to minimize tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing as soon as you have finished a meal is a good habit to get into; this way plaque and bacteria have less of a chance to get a stronghold in your mouth and between teeth.
- Proper nutrition and healthy eating habits are also key to oral health. A poor diet can contribute to tooth decay just as readily as sporadic brushing and flossing, and is also a prime contributor to bad breath.
The toothpaste that you choose is also important. Most conventional toothpaste products consist mainly of artificial colors, flavors, binders, sweeteners, fluoride, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Natural toothpastes and mouthwashes offer a healthier alternative to all of those synthetic ingredients that are not essential for teeth.
There are many tasty natural toothpastes now available. Most get their fresh taste from plant extracts such as parsley, cinnamon, mint, and tea tree oil to help fight bacteria. Some contain natural tooth whitening powders such as bamboo, silica, and calcium carbonate to reduce stains and whiten teeth without the harsh abrasives that are active in conventional tooth whiteners.
Article Contributors: Julie Reid