Wholistic, Holistic, Usual-and-Customary

What’s the difference, does it really matter, and should you even care?  All excellent questions. And without getting too deep into the weeds, let me try to make it simple. 

First of all, let me be clear – there are many good conscientious dentists practicing all three types of dentistry.  And if you are happy with the care you have been receiving, you should certainly think twice before making a change. But on the other hand, there are very real differences that you should be aware of. 

That being said, let’s begin by defining what we mean by usual-and-customary dentistry (UCD).  The best way to describe this category is that this is what is taught in most dental schools and what most dental insurances are set up to compensate for.  The focus of this type of practice is on tooth repair, with preventive measures limited for the most part to periodic cleanings and fluoride treatment. 

At the other end of the spectrum is what is commonly referred to as holistic dentistry.  As with holistic medicine, this can cover a large spectrum of alternative approaches.  The internet is full of opinions, some well thought out, and a whole lot that are, for lack of a more appropriate term, quite simply poppycock.  The most common thread through most holistic dental practices though is a strong emphasis on avoiding “toxic” substances. And although the list of verboten materials can get quite extensive, the classic culprits are fluoride, silver amalgam, and root canal treatment.  Unfortunately, the proposed alternatives are usually quite expensive which sometimes calls into question the legitimacy of those recommendations. 

On the other hand, there is a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that dental health and systemic health are intimately interconnected.  And it is this attention to sound scientific evidence that distinguishes comprehensive whole-health dental practice, what we call wholistic dentistry, from run-of-the-mill holistic and UCD practices. 

Here’s just one example of what current scientific evidence shows.  If you have periodontal disease, we now know that you are….

  • 170% more likely to get Heart Disease
  • 250% more likely to have a Stroke
  • 300% more likely to get Diabetes
  • 500% more likely to get Respiratory Disease
  • 200% more likely to get Osteoporosis
  • 700% more likely to have a Low Birth Weight baby
  • The most recent evidence also now shows that not only is periodontal disease “associated” with heart disease, but that it can actually be a causative factor!

Conversely, your risk of getting periodontal disease is….

  • 2 times greater if you suffer from excessive Stress
  • 5 times greater if you are a Smoker
  • 3 times greater if you are Diabetic
  • 20 times greater if you are a Smoker with Diabetes

As you can see, there are some very real serious issues involving dental and systemic health!  And it is these evidence-based concerns that a wholistic dentist will be best prepared to help you with. 

So does it matter?  Is it worth it to you to seek out a dentist with an evidence-based comprehensive whole-health perspective?  Only you can answer that question.