People often ask questions like: “what’s the difference between a holistic dentist and a traditional dentist?” or “how similar is a holistic dentist to a traditional dentist?”

All dentists receive the same basic education and training in dental school, that is, the same theory and the same methods of practice to become what is commonly known as a ‘general’ dentist. Some of these general dentists may have further developed, through continuing education courses and training, a subspecialty like: family dentist, cosmetic dentist or holistic dentist.

A holistic dentist offers conventional and complementary dental care. Unlike a traditional dentist, who may focus on one particular tooth or gum problem, the holistic dentist focuses on an individual’s whole body health. By identifying underlying imbalances in the body, a holistic dentist safely and effectively treats the problem with a combination of natural remedies and modern dental treatment. The holistic dentist is keenly aware of the best, most comprehensive long-term treatments necessary for restoring a patient’s oral and, ultimately, total health.

Like that of a traditional dentist, a holistic dentist’s approach to care can vary from practice to practice. Following are a few differences between a holistic dentist and a traditional dentist:

The holistic dentist refrains from using materials that many people feel are inferior. Materials such as silver mercury (amalgam) fillings may, according to the IAOMT, lead to a metallic taste, mouth ulcers, gum or other problems in some people. Rather, the holistic dentist only uses what he/ she believes are safer, more biocompatible materials. The holistic dentist may consent to a patient’s desire to have older, deficient fillings removed, especially if they exhibit an established sensitivity to that material. If so, they would do so with a safe, controlled procedure that minimizes the patient’s exposure to potentially harmful by-products.

The holistic dentist typically uses only digital x-ray systems thereby reducing emitted radiation by, in some cases, as much as 80% over traditional x-ray systems.

The holistic dentist approaches the need for root canal therapy with increased scrutiny and investigation. Root canal therapy is seen, in many cases, as a comforting yet transitional mode of treatment. The holistic dentist is aware that a tooth treated with root canal therapy may exist in a weakened state and, in cases where the root canal therapy on a tooth is failing, may expose the patient to recurrent, yet localized infections.

The holistic dentist is sensitive to some patients’ concerns over certain in-office anti-cavity treatments and, then, may suggest a more natural alternative or herbal remedy.

All Ontario dentists, regardless of their practice orientation, are required to separate waste amalgam (as a source of mercury) from their municipality’s wastewater. Beyond that, the holistic dentist is very environmentally conscious and responsible. The holistic dentist creates an office environment that is safe, biocompatible and minimally invasive to prevent potentially harmful effects on patients and dental personnel alike.

When choosing between dentists, whether holistic or traditional, it is very important to select one whose philosophy on health complements yours.