If you come across the term natural dentistry, you may be confused at first. Natural dentistry is also commonly called:
- Holistic dentistry
- Biological dentistry
- Biocompatible dentistry
- Preventative dentistry
- Unconventional dentistry
- Alternative dentistry
- Integrative dentistry
- Variations of those names
A Quick Definition
Put more simply, natural dentists use alternative dental practices. They are general dentists with all the required training and licensing. However, they follow holistic medicine principles instead of the more mainstream treatments.
Natural dentists believe that our dental health is closely connected to our overall health. As such, they use oral care methods that integrate the patient’s overall physical and emotional wellbeing.
However, this does not mean that natural dentists are not familiar with traditional treatments. Some natural dentists supplement conventional treatment procedures with more holistic or natural ones.
The fact that holistic dentists are licensed and have dental degrees is crucial. This means that they are just as highly trained as any general dentist.
As a refresher, every licensed dentist must have a bachelor’s degree. Then, they complete either a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or a doctor of medicine in dentistry (DMD) degree. Each of these degrees typically takes four years to achieve. They also have to pass the National Board Dental Examination. This is in addition to a clinical exam by a regional or state board of dentistry.
Treatments Holistic Dentists Use
As mentioned, some natural dentists use the traditional treatments that any licensed dentist, such as Dr. Sharma, would use. These include suggesting brushing and flossing as well as medicinal treatments.
The difference is that holistic dentists supplement those treatments with more natural procedures. These can include suggesting nutritional changes, homeopathy, spiritual healing, and herbology. They may also use cold laser treatment for specific conditions, like temporomandibular disorders.
Natural dentists may also provide acupuncture, ozone therapy, massage, and oral cancer screenings.
You can expect a natural dentist to offer checkups and cleanings. They also teach patients about oral health techniques. They additionally offer whole health evaluations and composite fillings. It is also common for these dentists to offer alternative treatments for pain in the neck, jaw, or head.
Those whole health evaluations are another important difference. This comes from the holistic approach of natural dentists. These dentists may encourage patients to have additional diagnostic screenings, like tests for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If patients do have these issues, holistic dentists would offer nutritional advice.
By contrast, you can expect fewer x-rays from natural dentists than traditional ones.
Treatments They Don’t Use
One crucial note is that natural dentists do not support fluoride treatments. They also don’t support using amalgams in dental implants because they contain mercury. The lack of support for amalgams comes down to two concerns. These are the risk of remnants of bacteria and post-placement sensitivity. (The FDA and ADA both classify amalgam fillings as safe.)
As mentioned, instead of amalgam fillings, holistic dentists typically support composite fillings. These do not contain mercury and they will not discolor the tooth. They only feature non-toxic materials. They also bond with the existing teeth, so they don’t require any drilling. These fillings also look similar to dental enamel in appearance.
What They Treat
As mentioned, most natural dentists tend to focus on preventative oral hygiene. This is also found in their approach to treating various conditions.
For example, they may diagnose and treat tooth infections, dry mouth, enamel degradation, gum disease, or tooth decay. But they don’t focus on dental cleaning. The focus of natural dentists is on supporting personal oral hygiene.
Major Differences Between Natural and Traditional Dentists
We already mentioned numerous differences between natural and traditional dentists. Even so, it’s helpful to look at the contrasts more concisely.
Traditional dentists focus on treating the dental health of their patients. They acknowledge the potential links between dental health and overall health. However, they focus on the teeth, jaws, gums, and certain parts of the neck and head when they are affected by oral health.
By contrast, holistic dentistry focuses on the entire body. This comes from the belief that the different body parts affect each other in terms of health.
Both holistic and traditional dentists will offer brushing, flossing, and fillings. Natural dentists also supplement traditional treatments with:
- Nutritional education
- Spiritual healing
While both types of dentists may discuss nutrition with you, natural dentists are much more likely to do so.
Materials in Treatments
As mentioned, holistic dentists won’t use amalgam fillings because of the mercury content. This is just one difference in the materials each type of dentist uses in treatment. They also do not suggest using fluoride, though some may support topical fluoride.
Natural dentists always use natural or biocompatible materials when possible. Many natural dentists will conduct biocompatibility tests before using certain materials. That test is designed to confirm that the patients’ bodies and immune systems are compatible with the substance.
The focus with natural dentists is also on natural materials. As an example, a traditional dentist may suggest a medicated mouthwash while a holistic one would suggest a natural mouthwash.
Why People Visit Holistic Dentists
Natural dentists are particularly popular among those who prefer alternative medicine or natural remedies whenever possible. It is also common to see a holistic dentist for a second opinion before surgery because this type of dentist is even more reluctant to turn to surgery than traditional dentists.
Other patients opt for natural dentistry if they don’t get the results they want from traditional dentistry.
When to Choose Natural Dentists or Traditional Dentists
While some people appreciate the benefits of natural dentistry, others should not consider it. If you have a history of tooth decay, you may need fluoride treatment, which holistic dentists won’t recommend. Without it, your problems may get worse.
According to Dr. Dhiraj Sharma, it’s also best to stick to traditional dentists for severe dental infections. They are more likely to perform a root canal while a holistic dentist may suggest pulling the tooth.
Because of the lack of research, those with chronic conditions would also be best off visiting traditional dentists, you can make a regular appointment with our dentist in Lincoln Square. You should also keep in mind that some holistic remedies may interact with prescription medicines.