What Is Holistic Dentistry?

Your teeth and gums play an important role in your body’s overall health. Holistic dentistry recognizes this connection and takes a whole-body approach, using tools and procedures that promote total wellness. Holistic dentistry, also called alternative dentistry, is the equivalent of alternative medicine for dentistry. Although the holistic dental community is diverse in its practices and approaches, common threads include strong opposition to the use of amalgam in materials in dental fillings, non-surgical approaches to gum disease, and the belief that root canals may endanger systemic health of the patient through the spread of trapped dental bacteria to the body. Many holistic dentist use natural options for pain and use x-rays sparingly.

Many practices and opinions among alternative dentists are criticized as not being evidence-based by the mainstream dental community and skeptics of alternative medicine in general. Generally speaking, such dentists charge far more for the same dental treatment compared to the mainstream dentists, as they consider themselves to providing specialized care.

Today the Holistic Dental Network defines the field as an approach to dentistry that promotes health and wellness instead of treating of disease. They attempted to coin the following basic principles as being unique to holistic dentistry:

  • Proper nutrition for the prevention and reversal of degenerative dental disease
  • Avoidance and elimination of toxins from dental materials
  • Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite problems = physical imbalance)
  • Prevention and treatment of gum disease at its biological basis

Most holistic dentists use plant-based fluoride free tooth remineralization products. They use cold laser to help treat TMJ pain. For patients who have frequent headache or pain due to misalignment of the jaw joint (TMJ), dental laser is used for effective pain reduction. The laser reduces inflammation and stimulates the natural healing capacity of the affected tissues.  Although the American Dental Association considers dental amalgam safe, most holistic dentists replace amalgam fillings with composite fillings which blend in with the surrounding tooth structure for a natural appearance.


The origin of holistic dentistry dates back to 1800, when the National Dental Association recognized the harmful effects of amalgam restoration and mandated that the members of the association should not use it on their patients. This was followed by many countries that have banned the use of mercury. Holistic dentistry rose further in between 1870 to 1948 with Weston A Price. He conducted research and came to the conclusion that degenerative diseases like heart problems, kidney and bladder disorders, arthritis, rheumatism, mental illness, lung problems and many other bacterial infections arise from root canal therapy and endodontic treatments. His concept was widely known as “focal infection theory.” Support of Price’s theories continued further from a dentist named Melvin Page. He coined the phrase “balancing body chemistry” and considered tooth decay an example of systemic chemical imbalances. He marketed a mineral supplement with claims that widespread mineral deficiencies were an underlying cause of several health conditions, including goiter, heart diseases, tuberculosis, and diabetes.The last few decades have seen an increase in the number of people following holistic dentistry.

The use of X-ray in holistic dentistry

 It is no secret that X-rays emit radiation and that radiation has been linked to cancer. While other traditional dentists will take x-rays every 6 months, holistic dentists use digital x-rays which are about 50% lower in radiation on average than the previous generation of x-ray machines. Recent studies show there is a statistically significant correlation between full-mouth X-rays and salivary gland cancer. Health outcomes such as leukemia (the most common childhood cancer in America), low birth weight, cataracts, and thumb carcinomas have also been reported.

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