The phrase, “integrative dentistry” is being thrown around a lot these days, creating confusion. The fact that there are many different terms used to describe this practice does not help! You may have seen or heard some of the following floating around among local and national dentists:
- Integrative Dentistry
- Holistic Dentistry
- Alternative Dentistry
- Biological Dentistry
- Unconventional Dentistry
- Biocompatible Dentistry
- Mercury-Safe Dentistry
And the list goes on and on… Integrative dentistry is a philosophy of dentistry that many conventional dentists have begun to use in their practice. We have broken that philosophy down into 3-4 primary categories. Read on to learn more about what “integrative dentistry” really means!
Two Kinds of “Integrative”
1. Integrated Body Systems
Integrative dentists believe in something called the “mouth-body connection,” asserting that what happens in the mouth affects the rest of the body; that the two are not independent of each other. They understand that oral health impacts the health of the entire body because the teeth, gums, and the mouth are highly integrated with the other body systems. To integrative dentists, the body, including the mouth, is a whole or holistic system. Consider the gut. The mouth is the entryway to the gut, and the gut affects the health of everything else. If the mouth able to take in nutritious foods and is not suffering from infection, the gut will be healthy as well, and thereby, the body!
2. Integrated Methods
To Integrative dentists, integrated body systems require integrated methods. Conventional dental treatment alone will not take care of systemic issues. Integrative dentists combine conventional treatment methods with alternative, holistic methods because they believe a blended approach will achieve better results. Before, dental care was segregated from medical care. Now, integrative dentists understand that separating the two does not make sense if the body is a whole, and they consider the wellness of the entire patient in their treatment.
What this looks like in practice is a great deal of research and listening. Integrative dentists are constantly looking into the latest research and the most advanced methods to incorporate in their practice. At the appointment, integrative dentists look at the dental and medical history of their patient, listening to their lifestyle, perspective, and choices in order to make the most informed decision for their dental care.
Integrative dentists would rather maintain health and prevent disease rather than “get it fixed” after the fact. They do this by performing treatments that have positive long-term effects and by providing advice in areas like nutrition and lifestyle. Their goal is to overcome the root of the problem rather than the symptom in order to prevent future issues.
Because integrative dentists understand the “mouth-body connection,” they try to use as minimally invasive treatments as possible in order to protect the health of the body as well as the mouth. One of the biggest ways they do this is by using safer, more natural materials in their work, such as:
- BPA and mercury-free fillings
- Ceramic or porcelain crowns
- Low dose x-rays
Integrative dentists are also trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Innovation in technology is providing integrative dentists with less invasive treatments every day!
Integrative dentists have a philosophy of dentistry that centers on the “mouth-body connection,” viewing the body as a whole rather than as distinct systems. That philosophy has led them to integrate conventional dentistry methods with holistic methods in order to better treat the whole patient. These methods are preventative and minimally invasive to keep the mouth and body as healthy as possible! If you would like to benefit from the best practices of integrative dentistry, learn more about your local, integrative dentist, Dr. Owen Mandanas!