Today western society accepts and encourages many forms of holistic health practices that were once looked down upon with a skeptical eye. Alternative mind and body medicines such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture are more popular than ever. However, did you know that there is such a thing as alternative dentistry?
What is Alternative Dentistry?
Alternative, or holistic dentistry, focuses on the healing of the mind and body to prevent and cure dental problems, as opposed to surgery or use of what holistic practitioners consider toxic restorative materials.
Although alternative dental health practitioners each have their own unique approaches to dental health, there are some common threads throughout the field. The Holistic Dental Network defines alternative dentistry as a field centered around these five beliefs:
- Whole person care of the mouth
- The science of using nontoxic dental restorative materials
- The rational removal of toxic metals using accepted treatment protocols
- The early emphasis on immune system support during care
- Microbiological control of gum infections
Controversies Surrounding Alternative Dentistry
Like many other alternative health treatments, alternative dentistry has experienced it’s fair share of controversy within the dental health community.
The biggest criticism of alternative dentistry is that unlike conventional dentistry, it is not science or evidence-based. Many conventional dentists and skeptics believe that the practices and techniques are not effective treatments as they have not been proven scientifically over time.
Another issue is that alternative dentistry is not taught in dental schools. Holistic dentists are generally educated in conventional dentistry, but have also gained education and experience in holistic healing. These healing practices are viewed by skeptics to be outside the realm of dentistry, and therefore not scientifically-based approaches to dental treatment.
Is Alternative Dentistry Right for Me?
As with any kind of healthcare, it is up to the individual to do plenty of research and talk to professionals when deciding what kind of treatment is best for him or her. If your values align with those of alternative dentistry, then you may be interested in searching for a holistic dentist near you or talking to your current dentist about any questions or concerns you have as they relate to alternative versus conventional dental health practices. The Holistic Dental Association provides more information and resources for those who may be interested in learning more about alternative dentistry.
If you’re not necessarily interested in going to an alternative dentist, but are concerned about the effects of mercury or other potential toxins in restorative material, you can search for a dentist who is also an accredited International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) member.
According to their website, the mission of IAOMT members is to “continually examine and compile scientific research relating to the biocompatibility of oral/dental materials. This agenda should ensure a more informed use of these materials in clinical practice.”
Alternative dentistry is not for everyone, and has not yet caught on as a mainstream alternative medicine. However, general awareness of this sub-set of dental health is important for anyone considering what type of dentist is best for them.