What does it mean in medicine when we say “holistic”? By definition the word is used in treating the whole person including mental and spiritual factors rather than the physical symptoms of a problem. At first this sounds like bogus, I’m not going to lie. It makes me think of essential oils you put into a diffuser to cure cavities because brain power!
But after research and curating my own at home concoctions, I realized holistic means treating the whole problem not just the symptoms. We get sick and take medicine to help suppress the symptoms. Sometimes these remedies cause other symptoms that need further treatment. Don’t get me wrong I believe in modern medicine and the extensive research that goes behind it. I also feel that natural prevention is real as well and we just don’t know how to do that anymore.
If you haven’t heard about DIY dentistry yet, oh boy are you missing out! We all know what DIY means right? Do-it-yourself. You might be thinking… pull your own teeth? Do you own fillings? Well, you thought right! There are people out there, who unfortunately do this AND teach other people, via videos, how to do their own dentistry.
As you may very well know, dentistry is done by doctors who were trained for years to be able to perform certain tasks and procedures. Why were they so heavily trained? Because we have very fragile nerves and structures in our head and face area we simply should not be messing with without knowledge and training of such. A procedure seemingly simple to one may result in permanent damage or even death.
I can’t say that I don’t get why some people do it. Dentistry is expensive and not every dentist out there has the best morals in the world. You also constantly hear dental advice that contradicts itself and maybe have been in this situation yourself. Some dentists will advise you to change silver fillings to white while some will take a more conservative approach and advise against this.
While this example is dependent on practice preference, and I defiantly could argue both sides here, there is a thin line between the recommendation being for the benefit of the patient and the recommendation being for the benefit of the practice. With this being said it is very important to find a good dentist. This is easier said than done, but word of mouth from multiple sources is always a great place to start.
Going back to our definition of holistic health, let us be reminded it involves treating the whole problem rather than an acute symptom. Lets use a simple cavity as an example. Depending on the severity of the cavity, both dentists would remove the rotting enamel and tissue and replace the tooth structure with filling material. The holistic dental approach may include focus on why decay is happening in the first place and may have a discussion about further treatment to prevent decay.
To be honest, most dentists will have this conversation with you and both may give recommendations on prevention. The general dentists may recommend an increase in fluoride via toothpaste or fluoride treatments in office. The holistic dentist may recommend dietary changes and reduction in the frequency of snacking and many advise against fluoride.
You’ll find that holistic dentists also refrain from performing root canals. Most holistic dentists believe that some chemicals for this procedure are harmful and this risk outweighs the benefits of saving said tooth. When a tooth has an abscess or has profound decay, a holistic dentist might steer in the direction of pulling the tooth instead of attempting to treat with a root canal.
If I could give you one take away here, it would be to weigh your risks vs benefits of every situation. Get as much information as you can about your proposed treatment. Do your research but don’t think the internet has all the answers either!
For instance there is research behind fluoride and it’s benefits. It’s naturally made in the body as well so this is no foreign substance to us. Risks with fluoride, like any other mineral, has to do with the quantity consumed. Topical application typically means it is not a systemically acting dose. To get negative effects from fluoride, the patient would need to ingest a very large systemic dose which would be harmful just like most other minerals as well.
A big however here is, do you have high risk of cavities? Have you had cavities in the last 5 years? If not, maybe you don’t need fluoride in the first place. Fluoride is only needed when you have at risk areas in your teeth such as recession, old fillings that are failing, recent cavities diagnosis, dry mouth from medication, etc.
Always ask your dental provider any questions you may have. To give another example, say you have a tooth that may need a root canal but your holistic dentist will not provide this service. Will loosing this tooth cause a bigger problem? Let’s say that this tooth is a molar that you need to chew with. Loosing this tooth mans your bite is off and so is the force at which you bite down with.
You could end up loosing the opposing tooth due to super eruption. (Super eruption is when an opposing tooth no longer has a buddy to push against and so it keeps moving either upwards or downwards until it finds something to keep it in place.) You could end up having multiple teeth shift to fill the gap. You could end up cracking the tooth or another tooth if the force of the bite is now concentrated on another tooth. In turn, you need to figure out if the result of loosing this tooth is worth risking any chemical used during the root canal that may potentially be considered harmful.
Everything written above comes from events I have witnessed, studies I have read, or information I have learned from other health professionals. I hope to only open discussion and encourage people to do their own asking and research. I would love to know what you think about this topic and hear your opinions or experiences.