A dentist is a type of doctor who specializes in oral health, which extends to much more than just teeth and gums. The American Dental Association notes dentists also look after things like the muscles of the head and neck, the jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system. Their role includes diagnosing oral disease, administering anesthetics, performing surgical procedures, screening for oral cancers, and much more. It’s all designed to promote good oral health and long-term wellbeing.
Integrative dentists take it a step further, and considers the way oral health impacts the health of the whole body. This practice has a lot of different names: integrative dentistry, holistic dentistry, and biological dentistry are just a few. It’s based on the idea that the health of the mouth and the health of the body are intrinsically linked – for example, oral health has a significant impact on functions eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Oral health can also affect things like movement and mental health.
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Two ways integrative dentistry is practiced
Integrative dentists have all the same qualifications and training as regular dentists. In fact, most integrative dentists started as regular dentists and moved into a new direction when they started looking for better ways to practice dentistry, and become safer and more effective providers.
There are two main ways integrative dentistry is practiced.
The first is through the idea of the “mouth-body connection,” which is the understanding that the mouth and the body do not operate independently of each other. This means that rather than simply diving in and treating dental conditions, integrative dentists will ask their patients about other factors that may impact their health. This could include sleep, diet, exercise, and stress, for example. This helps the integrative dentists get a better picture of what’s going on in a person’s life to help create an individualized plan that will optimize their overall health and wellbeing.
The second way integrative dentistry is practiced is through the use of integrative methods. This takes all the great parts of conventional dentistry and blends them with alternative methods that are designed to deliver the best results possible. This will vary from dentist to dentist, depending on their own personal research and experience, as well as their interests. This could include things like low-dose x-rays and mercury-free fillings. The idea is to use safer, more natural materials, as much as possible.
Conditions integrative dentistry can treat
Integrative dentists treat all the same things as regular dentists. This includes regular dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, dental implants, orthodontics, and all the normal things you’d expect. They can conduct clinical and radiographic examinations for hidden dental problems, inspect the mouth for cavities and any wear and tear, treat gingivitis and periodontal diseases, provide professional teeth cleaning, and treat dental emergencies such as broken teeth and severe toothaches.
However, they can do much more. Here at Mandanas Dental, for example, Dr. Mandanas has a special interest in sleep breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, which stems from her research into craniofacial anatomy and development. This means she can help if you’re snoring excessively at night, sleeping restlessly, or waking up tired.
Sleep apnea can cause a range of serious health issues, from chronic exhaustion to heart strain, diabetes, metabolic issues, liver problems, and even death. It’s commonly treated with CPAP machines, but it doesn’t have to be. As an integrative dentist, Dr. Mandanas uses non-invasive treatments that consider all the relevant health factors at play to work naturally with the body to find a solution rather than working against it. For example, she can help patients with things like alignment of the jaw, tongue positioning, mouth breathing, which can all affect sleep quality.
Integrative dentistry is a step toward whole-body health
Integrative dentistry is a great option for people who want to optimize their wellbeing. The goal is to help each patient live their healthiest, fullest life. Integrative dentists offer inviting, patient-focused environments, and deliver personalized dental care tailored to your health goals.
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