Oral & Vision Health Blog

What is a Holistic Dentist, and Should You See One?

Holistic health was one of the biggest buzzwords in the last decade. The holistic trend has led to an increase in wellness programs by companies trying to attract the best talent and continues to change how people look at healthcare. But if you’ve heard the term “holistic dentistry”, you might be thinking – what does holistic health have to do with my dentist? Well, here is the rundown on holistic dentistry, and how to know if seeing one is right for you (and your wallet).

What is a Holistic Dentist?

The simplest definition of a holistic dentist is a dentist who seeks alternatives to traditional dental procedures that use materials that could be potentially harmful to the rest of the body. These procedures can be mercury-based amalgam fillings, formaldehyde-based root canals, and fluoride – all of which are noted to be safe by the American Dental Association (ADA). But it is worth noting that many traditional dentists also avoid these materials, and some holistic dentists still use them. So, making the distinction of holistic dentist by procedures and materials doesn’t always work.

This is where philosophy comes in. According to The Center For Natural Dentistry, a holistic dental office in California, holistic dentists “are dentists who perform dentistry that is good for the body as well as the teeth and gums.” All dentists are concerned with the overall and oral health of their patients. Traditional dentists and holistic dentists are both committed to treating the underlying issues that cause problems in the mouth and ensuring dental treatments don’t have adverse effects on overall health. But the holistic dentist makes their priority caring for the mouth, body, and mind through their care.

The philosophy of holistic dentists often leads to the use of alternative dental procedures and materials that distinguish the work a holistic dentist does from that of a traditional dentist.

The Risks of Holistic Dentistry

These alternative procedures and materials used by many holistic dentists lead to many procedures to be classified by the American Dental Association (ADA) as “unconventional dentistry” and not recognized by the ADA. This means many of the procedures are not covered by dental insurance, and the ADA doesn’t sanction them.

Risks of seeing holistic dentists can include:

  • Increased out-of-pocket costs for uncovered procedures
  • Increased risk of tooth decay due to aversion to fluoride
  • Holistic Dentists often don’t recommend Root Canal Therapy – sometimes recommending teeth be pulled when a traditional dentist would attempt to save the tooth
  • Risk of being treated by a dentist not licensed by the ADA (Always check with your insurance company and your holistic dentist’s office to ensure accreditation)

But it is important to note that these risks are not universal. There are many dentists who identify as holistic dentists that are licensed and in complete compliance with the ADA – and your insurance will cover them. These dentists stick to ADA approved materials and often bring holistic health philosophy into their office experience.

Should You See a Holistic Dentist?

The short answer is that it depends. Holistic Dentistry is an umbrella containing a large spectrum of dental providers – and they aren’t all equally qualified to provide care. If you have health problems that interfere with your dental care, or if you are concerned about procedures like amalgam fillings (even though the ADA reports they are 100% safe), then a holistic dentist might be a good option for your care. But if you are looking into seeing a holistic dentist (or seeing one currently) make sure they are properly licensed and accredited by the ADA – and that the procedures they preform are covered by your insurance! If you don’t have dental insurance – get covered today!

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