Shifting trends in the world of medicine over the past several decades have seen modern medical knowledge sharing space with holistic treatments. The philosophy behind holistic medicine is to take the whole body’s health into consideration when developing a treatment plan. While a specific disease or illness may be the direct cause of a patient’s symptoms, holistic medicine advocate’s treating things like poor diet and stress, which it views as toxic to the body. Holistic practitioners steer away from chemical heavy treatments and invasive surgery, instead advocating diets and natural products intended to stimulate the body’s response to disease.
However, according to West Los Angeles periodontist Todd H. Yamada, holistic medicine is not compatible with the world of dentistry. A self-proclaimed supporter of holistic treatments like acupressure, hypnotherapy, and meditation, Yamada does not believe these natural treatments have the same impact as traditional dentistry.
“In dentistry, because so much of it is mechanical and there are so many chemical agents and materials, it’s not clear that holistic application is viable,” claimed Yamada. Regardless, patients still arrive concerned about certain chemicals, particularly the mercury used in trace amounts in fillings. There are no chemical studies linking any health problems to the mercury used in fillings, but dental students today are still taught to deal carefully with patients taking issue with chemical based treatments and to offer alternatives.
Difficult as it may be, considering the heavy chemical nature of dentistry, fully holistic practices have appeared that might help change things. Many eliminate the use of mercury fillings entirely, with some even offering filling removal. While most still offer surgery and invasive treatments to their patients, many accompany these treatments with cranial massages meant to relieve pain and vitamin-c injections to help relax the body.
These holistic treatment methods may seem strange to traditional dentists, but they have proven to be effective for some patients. There is still little research on the overall impact that holistic medicine might have on dentistry as a whole, but medicine is always changing and developing based on new technology and knowledge. As dental education changes with it, treatments could shift radically towards a more holistic philosophy in the years to come.