You may be familiar with alternative medical treatments, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies. You may have also heard that some dentists offer these and other unconventional methods to treat teeth. These dentists are often called holistic dentists, biological dentists or alternative dentists, and the Los Angeles Times recently reported that their numbers are increasing. Before you decide to see a holistic dentist, it's important to know how holistic dentistry differs from conventional dentistry.
Holistic vs. Standard Dentists
Alternative or holistic dentists differ from standard dentists in significant ways. The Los Angeles Times article notes that holistic dentists prefer to use herbal remedies and don't generally use fluoride. They also don't use mercury in their practices and may remove patients' metal fillings to replace them with mercury-free alternatives. In addition, these dentists may not recommend root canal treatment. For instance, a paper published by the International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine, a biological dentists' association, claims that the procedure is linked to systemic disease.
Conventional dentistry, on the other hand, is based on sound scientific principles and utilizes treatments — including root canals — that have been clinically proven to be both safe and effective, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Holistic dentists may use methods or products that differ from generally accepted dental practices, and the ADA emphasizes that these unconventional methods should be studied to determine their safety and effectiveness.