What Does It Mean to Be a Holistic Dentist?
Just this week, a person came into my Portland dental office and asked,
“How can you consider yourself a ‘biological dentist’ if you use titanium implants?”
In her opinion, using a foreign material (even if it is biologically compatible with a person’s body) like titanium in dental procedures meant that I shouldn’t be considered a “holistic” or “biological” dentist.
Let me start by saying that I believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I also appreciate and deeply value other people’s thoughts and perspectives on what makes for the best holistic health choices.
Today, let’s look more closely at the true meanings of holistic and biological dentistry– if such a thing exists.
Holistic Dentistry Defined?
Her question led to my search for a definition of “Holistic Dentistry”. Here’s what I found:
“Holistic dentistry, also called alternative dentistry, unconventional dentistry, biologic dentistry, or biocompatible dentistry emphasizes approaches to dental care which consider the patient’s dental health in the context of their entire physical as well as emotional or spiritual health in some cases.”
I believe that the key to the above definition is the combined consideration of people’s oral, physical, emotional and spiritual health. These aspects of our overall wellness cannot be divorced from each other!
I also searched the websites of other dentists who consider themselves “holistic” and I have seen a wide variety of definitions. Some dentists believe that being “holistic” means that they determine which filling materials are the most biologically compatible for a given individual.
My belief is that a truly “health-focused” dentist would one who helps people avoid the need for fillings (or other dental treatments) altogether.
An Idea You May Not Have Heard Before
So here comes something you may not have heard from a dentist before:
It is 100% possible to have a healthy mouth for life!
It requires two simple things:
- Awareness of what factors lead to disease.
- Personal responsibility for making choices that lead to health.
Becoming Aware of Oral Health Risks
Here are the steps towards becoming aware of your oral health risks:
1. Know that our planet provides.
Long before multi-leveled marketing was selling us over-processed, nutritionally-poor foods that are practically pre-digested for us, the planet was growing all of the fruit, vegetables, and sources of protein that we needed. And it was full of nutritional content! But now that many of us eat out of bags and boxes containing pre-manufactured foods, our nutritional intake has decreased significantly.
2. Prioritizing great nutrition is critical to optimal health.
Our bodies need quality nutrition as the building blocks of our entire physiological system. From the time we are conceived, nutritional deficiencies limit the expression of our genetic code. To grow to the maximum of our genetic potential (even growing our healthiest teeth!) quality nutrition is a must.
Even the tissue that make up our gums need high levels of antioxidant support from our diet to help fight the never-ending onslaught of bacterial invaders.
3. Your lifestyle choices make the biggest difference.
If you drink mostly water throughout the day and eat whole foods, it is next to impossible for you to get tooth decay. However, if you enjoy sipping on a Café Mocha Frappuccino throughout the morning and eating processed foods, you are much more likely to get decay.
Here are some simple facts:
- The more frequently you snack, the more likely you are to suffer from tooth decay.
- Any food or beverage with either fermentable carbohydrates OR inherent acids will ultimately lead to decay. Carbs get eaten by your oral bacteria which produce acids that pull minerals out of your enamel. This leads to “demineralization” – the start of decay.
- Brushing and flossing are important parts of a great oral health routine. But they will not stop you from getting decay if you don’t monitor what you eat.
- If your diet comes mostly from boxes, bags or drive-thrus, it is time to reconsider your options if you want to be at your best health!
- High-sugar, processed food diets not only lead to decay, but also to diabetes. Diabetes is a known high risk factor for gum disease.
- Smoking significantly increases your risk for gum disease and decay.
- Almost all prescription medications decrease your saliva flow. Decreased saliva flow greatly increases your risk for decay and gum disease.
Take Ownership of Your Health
By taking ownership of your health you can avoid diseases which have become all too common including: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and many others.
What you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, how much water you drink and how much sleep you get, all make a huge impact on your overall health. If you place a high value on your health, my recommendation is to see a dentist who is most concerned about seeing you be your healthiest.
Almost everything that gets into our bodies comes through the oral cavity. The same blood, nerves and lymph goes through the mouth as it does in every other part of the body. A Holistic Dentist not only understands this, but reflects this understanding in the health-promoting recommendations that they make to their patients (and hopefully in their own health and wellness!)
To me, that’s the true definition of a Holistic Dentist.
And remember, I welcome your questions and feedback. Contact me online or call Blodgett Dental Care at (503) 285-3620 to schedule your appointment.