HOLISTIC DENTISTRY

HOLISTIC DENTISTRY

WHAT IS HOLISTIC DENTISTRY?

Holistic dentistry, also known as biocompatible dentistry, is a common dentistry practice which is similar to alternative medicine. Unlike traditional dentistry, this type of practice never uses mercury and fluoride. According to the holistic dentistry’s philosophy, a comprehensive health approach is necessary to treat dental problems. Holistic dentists believe that tooth decay and other dental diseases are a sign of emotional imbalance or other problems elsewhere in the body and that a tooth may cause issues in other parts of the body as well. These dentists, in addition to using traditional methods to treat diseased teeth (with the exception of mercury and fluoride), prefer different approaches such as nutrition, homeopathy, osteopathy, and energy medicine, to treat health problems.

NOTE: THIS PAGE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

 ANJOU EMERGENCY DENTAL CENTRE DOES NOT PRACTISE HOLISTIC DENTISTRY.

MERCURY IN AMALGAM FILLINGS

For the moment, health agencies have issued no restrictions on the use of amalgam as restorative material in dentistry.

It is known that amalgam releases some mercury during its insertion and when it is subjected to chewing forces. However, that level of mercury is considered safe for the human health.

It is also recommended not to replace amalgam fillings that are clinically acceptable because the mercury put into circulation when they are taken away can be greater than that freed during normal wear and tear of that restorative material.

IS COMPOSITE RESIN A BETTER CHOICE?

Composite resin (white fillings) is recommended by holistic dentists because, according to their philosophy, this material is biocompatible with the human body. Unfortunately, some studies show that this isn’t quite the case.

Composite resins seem to contain potentially harmful components, but there are not enough studies to reach a conclusion on their long-term use. According to the Canadian Dental Association, BPA (bisphenol A) would be released in small amounts by the dental resins during the first three hours after their polymerization. Health Canada has banned plastics containing BPA in food products for children but judges that the amount of BPA potentially released from dental sealants is negligible and that this material can be used as protection against tooth decay.

Like in the case of amalgam, potentially harmful substances contained in the composite resins seem to be present in small quantities and would not pose a health hazard. Further studies on the long-term effects of composite resins are needed.

THE RESTORATION TYPE WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE PRESENCE OF SECONDARY CARIES

It is possible to conclude that the risk of developing secondary caries (those forming under the present restoration) is higher around composite resin fillings (except the dental sealants) than amalgam fillings.

This is due to the contraction of this material during polymerization (hardened by light) and a greater bacterial proliferation around this material.

It is important to note that the development of secondary caries largely depends on oral hygiene and eating habits. A healthy and non-cariogenic diet combined with good oral hygiene contribute greatly to eliminate the risk of secondary caries.

FLUORIDE IN OUR ENVIRONMENT

Fluorine is an ion that is naturally present in our environment and we are exposed to it every day.

The daily ingestion of fluoride in very small quantities is inevitable because this product is present in drinking water, meat, fish, and cereals. Teflon, on cooking surfaces, also releases fluoride ions which are subsequently absorbed into our body through food prepared on these surfaces.

Studies have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of fluoride in order to prevent tooth decay when it is used topically (applied directly on the teeth).

Fluoride and tooth decay

Here is a summary of the formation of cavities and the effects of topical fluoride on teeth:

  • The enamel hardness is mainly due to the presence of hydroxyapatite, a mineral.
  • Bacteria that cause tooth decay are present in dental plaque. They transform sugar into lactic acid, which creates an acidic environment in the mouth. Sugar metabolized by cariogenic bacteria comes from our diet.
  • When the pH of the mouth falls below 5.5 (acidic environment), hydroxyapatite is demineralized and cavities start to form.
  • Fluorine ions applied topically and present in our saliva are fighting tooth decay in two ways:
    • They form a new mineral in the enamel (fluorohydroxyapatite), which is more resistant to acidity because it demineralizes at a lower pH (4.5).
    • Some studies suggest that the fluorine ions present in the saliva have the potential to act on cariogenic bacteria and decrease their production of lactic acid.

FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE

The European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, even for children and pregnant women.

As the concentration of fluoride present in toothpaste is low, it does not pose a threat to human health.

Because fluoride binds with the developing enamel, ingesting high concentrations of fluoride before the age of six can cause fluorosis. Fluorosis can create white, yellow or brown spots on the enamel. A very high consumption of fluoride all at once can be toxic and even fatal.

In children under 8 years of age, proper use of fluoride toothpaste (pea-sized amount) and supervised toothbrushing (to avoid accidental ingestion of a large amount of toothpaste) are highly recommended.

It is also advisable to consult your dentist before giving fluoride supplements to your child.

HOLISTIC DENTISTRY IS NOT UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTED BY HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

To date, there is no restorative material that is completely biocompatible with the human body and can mimic the properties of a healthy tooth.

The best way to minimize the presence of restorative material in the mouth is to maintain good oral hygiene and to avoid cariogenic foods in order to minimize tooth decay.

Proper use of fluoride toothpaste, flossing (under certain conditions the interdental brush offers best results) and a good toothbrushing technique to remove plaque represent the best ways to prevent tooth decay.

It is also recommended to replace extensive fillings that are not clinically acceptable with restorations that are more appropriate, such as ceramic veneers or crowns, to minimize the amount of amalgam or composite resin present in the mouth.