Before scheduling your dental appointment, it’s crucial to understand the philosophy of the dental practice you’re considering. Knowing their approach to oral care ensures that the treatment aligns with your preferences and values, setting the stage for a personalized and positive dental experience.

As you work towards better oral health, knowing the differences between holistic and traditional dentistry becomes relevant. Let’s dig into why understanding these approaches is vital, highlighting why picking the right care matters for your needs.

Understanding holistic dentistry

Holistic dentistry, often called biological or integrative dentistry, transcends the conventional focus on oral health. It views the mouth as a gateway to overall well-being. Unlike traditional dentistry, holistic dentistry considers the interconnectedness of oral health with the rest of the body.

The core principles of holistic dentistry

Holistic dentistry operates on the fundamental belief that oral health profoundly impacts the well-being of the entire body. This approach strongly emphasizes on 3 core principles, each contributing to a comprehensive and interconnected understanding of dental care.

Biocompatible materials

Holistic dentists prioritize the use of biocompatible materials — substances that harmonize with the body’s natural composition. This strategic selection minimizes the risk of adverse reactions, ensuring dental treatments contribute positively to your overall health.

Mercury-free dentistry

Diverging from conventional dental care, the holistic approach takes a stand against using amalgam fillings containing mercury. Instead, it opts for mercury-free alternatives, acknowledging the potential health concerns associated with mercury exposure.

Nutritional counseling

Holistic dentists recognize the connection between diet and oral health. This approach acknowledges that what you eat significantly influences your oral health and overall well-being. By offering guidance on nutrition, our dentists empower patients to make choices that contribute to optimal oral health and systemic harmony.

By prioritizing biocompatible materials, avoiding mercury in fillings, and incorporating nutritional counseling, holistic dentistry goes beyond treating symptoms, aiming for a proactive and health-centric approach that resonates throughout the entire body.

Understanding traditional dentistry

Traditional care adheres to a conventional paradigm where the primary focus is on addressing oral health concerns in a symptomatic manner. This approach centers on treating specific issues as they arise, but it may lack the broader perspective that considers the interplay between oral health and the overall well-being of the body.

Focus on symptomatic treatment

Traditional dentistry emphasizes providing solutions to immediate concerns rather than delving into the underlying causes or considering the potential impact on the entire body. While effective for resolving specific issues, this approach may sometimes overlook the broader health implications that a more holistic perspective would consider.

Use of conventional materials

Traditional dental care commonly relies on materials that adhere to established conventional standards. While these materials may meet the traditional criteria, they might overlook or downplay certain health implications. This may sometimes limit consideration of alternative, more biocompatible materials to minimize adverse reactions and contribute to overall health.

Specialization in oral health

Traditional dentistry often centers its specialization on oral health exclusively. This means that the dental care provided is tailored to address dental issues within the confines of the mouth without necessarily considering the broader systemic implications. While highly effective for oral health concerns, this approach may miss opportunities to identify or prevent other health issues.

Integrative dentistry — the best of both worlds

Integrative dentistry addresses symptoms and understands the root causes, promoting preventive strategies. It encourages collaboration between different methods, combining traditional practices with innovative and alternative therapies for a comprehensive solution.

By betting on the integrative approach, you invest in a more thorough and personalized experience that aligns with the intricate dynamics of your health and lifestyle.

Choices in Dentistry is your ultimate choice!

The decision between holistic and traditional dentistry holds substantial weight in shaping your oral health journey. At Choices in Dentistry, we prioritize an integrative approach that goes beyond conventional dental practices. Our commitment is to provide personalized, patient-centered care that considers your well-being.

Contact us today or visit our integrative dental office in the Chicago Loop to start your journey to overall wellness.

What is the oral microbiome?

A microbiome is a community of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) living together in a particular habitat or environment. The human oral microbiome refers to the community of bacteria and other microorganisms that exist at a given time in a person’s mouth.

In fact, the mouth contains a number of different habitats, including the teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, and more. Each habitat is colonized by both good and bad bacteria.

Good oral bacteria

The good bacteria in your mouth are essential for oral health. They help break down food effectively, keep your breath smelling nice, and protect your teeth, gums, jawbone, and other structures in the mouth.

Good oral bacteria prefer neutral-to-high pH environments. An abundance of these bacteria reduces your risk of developing cavities or periodontal (gum) disease. That’s because they produce proteins that effectively control the population of bad bacteria.

Bad oral bacteria

Too many bad bacteria in your mouth can lead to bad breath, dry mouth, and an increased risk of developing oral health conditions such as:

Bad oral bacteria tend to flourish in low pH environments with limited oxygen, such as in plaque and tartar. When these substances build up on the teeth and along the gum line and are not properly removed, bad bacteria begin to reproduce and cause damage.

How your oral microbiome impacts your overall health

Bad oral bacteria can cause inflammation, ultimately weakening the immune system and limiting the body’s ability to fight illness and disease. They can also travel to other areas of the body through the bloodstream, including to vital organs such as the heart and brain.

Research shows that poor oral health is strongly associated with systemic health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Dementia

Tips for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome

Keep up with dental hygiene

Daily at-home dental care is one of the most important steps in promoting a good microbiome. To remove harmful bacteria, make sure to keep up with basic dental hygiene practices, including:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Using an antibacterial mouthwash

Visit your dentist for routine checkups

While at-home care is essential, brushing alone won’t always be enough. Getting professional dental cleanings and exams twice a year will help preserve your oral microbiome by removing plaque and tartar and screening for potential oral health problems.

Eat a healthy diet

Maintaining a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods allows good bacteria to thrive and helps build your body’s natural defenses. Ensure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Try to limit your consumption of sugary or acidic foods, as they can increase your risk of developing oral infections.

Take probiotics

In recent years, research has suggested that probiotics can improve oral health by strengthening the microenvironment in our mouths, allowing good bacteria to thrive while inhibiting pathogens.

Probiotics can be consumed through certain foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and some cheeses. Dietary supplements with probiotics may also help improve your oral microbiome.

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol

Smoking is exceptionally bad for your oral health. It naturally increases bad bacteria that can cause oral infection and disease. It also reduces oxygen in the bloodstream, making it harder to heal from bacterial infections.

Excess alcohol can also cause a number of problems for your oral microbiome by killing off healthy bacteria. It’s been observed that heavy drinkers have more bad bacteria and less good bacteria in their mouths compared to moderate- and non-drinkers.

Maintain your oral health and enhance your overall well-being with Choices in Dentistry

We’re on a mission to transform our patient’s health and well-being by combining the most effective practices in holistic dentistry and traditional, proven treatments.

It’s imperative that you feel empowered when it comes to your oral and total-body health and have all the tools you need to make informed decisions. At Choices in Dentistry, we’re here to provide you with the evidence-based guidance and support you need to do just that.

Contact us to learn more about our services and to schedule your first appointment!