If you’re a parent you know that it can be hard to know who to trust to care for your child’s health. Holistic dentistry has become a bit of a trend, and there are a number of dentists that claim to be holistic, but do not actually follow holistic principles. Likewise, there are other dentists who follow many holistic principles without claiming the holistic label.
Holistic dentists see the teeth as being one part of the body and an important part of overall health. Further, holistic dentists believe that oral health both impacts and is impacted by other physiological processes. Holistic dentists strive to help their patients achieve the best possible health overall. Here are a few questions you can ask your dentist to find out whether their ideals are in line with holistic principles:
What does the first exam cover? Many pediatric dentists spend less than 10 minutes on the exam which can make it difficult to cover everything that needs to be covered. The dentist should discuss with you: your child’s health, job deviation, development, sleep, posture, any breathing issues, and your child’s diet. Discussion of diet should cover not only sweets, but how your child eats at each meal, how many servings of fruits and vegetables the child eats a day, and how much dairy, protein, and carbohydrates the child consumes. All of these are important to gain an overall picture of the child’s general health.
What materials do you use? Holistic dentists particularly avoid dental amalgam, which is a material that contains a high concentration of mercury. It is often used to fill decayed teeth and is associated with a wide variety of health and environmental issues. Most holistic dentists also avoid fluoride as much as possible. Fluoride is associated with fluorosis and a number of bone problems including bone cancer. Many dentists also avoid BPA which is found in mouthguards, dental appliances, and sealants that are typically used in cavity prone areas.
How often do you do x-rays? Some holistic dentists avoid x-rays, while others take them every six months. Look for a dentist that takes a more individual approach based on history. Many holistic dentists use special machines that use sensors rather than film. These machines expose the patient to a fraction of the radiation as traditional x-rays.
Where do you stand on canals? In a root canal a decayed or infected tooth has its pulp and nerve removed. This is often a last resort prior to extracting the tooth. The tooth is cleaned and sealed. However the chemicals used are toxic and can make their way into the body. Also, in some cases, all of the bacteria may not be killed. Surviving bacteria can then lead to infection. Many holistic dentists prefer to remove severely decayed teeth rather than risk infection.