Holistic dentistry is an active approach where patient's entire body is the centre of focus and not just the oral cavity.
Holistic dentistry requires dental knowledge as well as understanding of other medical conditions to improve the overall health of an individual particularly in children.
It is also known as
- biological dentistry
- natural dentistry
- green dentistry
- unconventional dentistry
- progressive dentistry
- biocompatible dentistry.
It is basically the incorporation of hypnosis, homeopathy, aromatherapy, nutrition and natural remedies in clinical dentistry.
According to acupuncture, each tooth in our body is associated with a particular organ, this is known as Tooth Meridian. This indicates that overall health is related to various dental conditions.
Coming to the natural remedies, which includes –
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling or swishing with sesame oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil strengthens the gums and prevents dental diseases like dental caries and periodontal diseases. It is also helpful in curing certain systemic diseases like migraine, asthma, diabetes and hypertension. It also boosts the immune system and helps in weight loss.
Steps of oil pulling
- Measure one tablespoon of oil
- Swirl it around gums for 15 to 20 minutes – do not swallow.
- Spit the oil after the massage.
- Rinse it well before eating or drinking anything
Duration of swishing can be increased from 5 minutes to 15-20 mins. Spit the oil into a trash can or a paper towel – avoid spitting into sinks or toilets to prevent buildups and clogging of pipes.
Incase of children, age should be above 5 years and one teaspoon of oil should be used.
For best results, it is recommended to be done on an empty stomach, before brushing although you can adapt based on your personal preferences.
If done correctly, the viscous oil becomes milky white and thinner.
Activated charcoal available as premixed paste is used for teeth cleaning and whitening the teeth. Along with the advantage of white teeth, activated charcoal is used for the treatment of food poisoning and other gastrointestinal issues.
Ayurveda in holistic dentistry
Extracts of neem bark, neem leaf, grape seed, clove, fennel and other plants are used in toothpastes to avoid use of chemicals like lauryl sulfate, saccharin, parabens, artificial colours and artificial flavours. Propolis is extracted from resins of pine and are collected by bees is a natural substance used in treatment of oral ulcers. Chamomile, limeflower, vervain, rosemary and valerian are other natural substance that are used as sedatives. These natural ayurvedic remedies also protects our body from different infections. Neem leaves are used in providing relief in viral infections like chicken pox.
Aromatherapy in holistic dentistry
Pure oil extracted from plants and flowers like lavender oil, bergamot, sandalwood and basil are used in aromatherapy. They relax and soothe the body. These pure oils can also be used by paediatric dentist to prevent dental anxiety in children. It has hormone-like stimulant that improves overall health balance.
Homeopathy in holistic dentistry
This therapy is useful in both adults and children as it is safe and effective. The three main remedies used in this therapy are –
- aconite (foxglove);
- gelsemium (yellow jasmine); and
- argentum nitricum (silver nitrate).
It can be used for dental caries, oral ulcers and periodontal disease.
Arnica oil is used to prevent post extraction complications. It is also useful in treating an anxious and nervous child.
Hypnosis in holistic dentistry
Hypnosis is another method used by holistic paediatric dentist for the treatment of apprehensive child. It makes the use of sedation/ general anesthesia unnecessary.
Nutrition in holistic dentistry
Diet counselling should be performed by holistic dentist to provide overall balanced health. Malnutrition and deficiency of vitamins and calcium has shown to cause dental caries. Therefore, proper balanced diet with protein, vitamins and other essential minerals are suggested. Fresh fruit especially citrus fruits like oranges and grapes are suggested after meals. This provides cleaning of teeth and prevents teeth from dental decay.
Benefits of holistic dentistry
- Less toxic, biocompatible
- Uses alternative medicine like ayurveda, homeopathy and hypnosis
- Treats systemic diseases not just diseases related to oral cavity
- Nutrition counselling and eating habits improve overall health and also reduce dental caries
Holistic dentistry is an emerging field of probiotic dental medicine that supports the life processes. However, based on the lack of evidence, it cannot be recommended as a replacement for standard, time-tested oral health behaviours and modalities but can be an effective supplemental aid in a daily oral hygiene regimen.
- Thakur N, Bagewadi A, Keluskar V; Holistic Dentistry: Natural Approaches to Oral Health; J. Int Oral Health Volume 3; Issue 2: April 2011
- Amith H V, Ankola A V, Nagesh L. Effect of Oil pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis. J Oral Health Community Dent 2007; 1:12-8
- Brooks J, Bashirelahi N, Reynolds M. Charcoal and Charcoal Based Dentifrices a Literature Review. JADA September 2017; 148(9):661-670: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.05.001
- Shanbhag VK. Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jun 6;7(1):106-109.