HOLISTIC FAQ

1. What is Holistic Dentistry?
2. What are the basic principles of holistic dentistry?
3. What are the key differences between traditional versus holistic dental practices?
4. If a practice is mercury-free, does that mean it is a holistic dental practice?
5. What is mercury poisoning and what are its symptoms?
6. What is the holistic dental stance on mercury fillings?
7. What is the conventional dental industry’s stance on mercury fillings?
8. What is Les Belles NYC’s stance on mercury fillings?
9. What is an amalgam?
10. What are some factors that should be considered when discussing mercury exposure and amalgams?
11. Can I have any dentist remove my amalgam filling?
12. What is the traditional holistic dental stance on root canal therapy?
13. What is Les Belles NYC’s stance on root canal therapy?
14. What is fluorosis?
15. What is the difference between topical and ingested fluoride?


1. What is Holistic Dentistry?

The term “holistic” as it relates to “holistic dentistry” covers a number of philosophies and practices. It is better to think of holistic dentists, in general, as existing on a spectrum with a few commonly shared concerns/perspectives. However, no two holistic dentists will necessarily be alike.

What holistic dentistry does is teach dentists the long-term effects of dentistry on the body because oral health is an integral part of overall health. There are multiple studies that link oral ailments with greater body health problems, like diabetes. Holistic dentists factor in the overall patient health beyond the traditional health of their teeth and gums.

Some of the alternative names for Holistic Dentistry are biological dentistry, biologic dentistry, alternative dentistry, unconventional dentistry, and biocompatible dentistry.


2. What are some basic principles of holistic dentistry?

Some of the basic principles of holistic dentistry are:
1. Proper nutrition for the prevention and reversal of degenerative dental disease
2. Avoidance and elimination of toxins from dental materials
3. Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite problems=physical imbalance)
4. Prevention and treatment of gum disease at its biological basis
5. Treat the whole individual
6. Patient safety is top priority
7. Follows defined protocol for removing amalgam fillings
8. Provides immune support to remove toxins following the removal of amalgam fillings

Additional holistic dental principles/practices may include:
9. Provide composite, porcelain, zirconia and gold restorations
10. Explains options for PBA free fillings versus inlays/onlays
11. Use digital x-rays to reduce radiation exposure by up to 90%


3. What is the difference between traditional versus holistic dental practices?

Traditional dentistry is the practice of treating the symptoms in the teeth and gums and attempting to prevent such problems from reoccurring. Holistic dentistry is the practice of treating the underlying problems that cause symptoms in the mouth, attempting to eliminate those problems (and, hence, preventing the symptoms from reoccurring) while ensuring the work done in the mouth does not have an adverse effect on overall patient health. What sets holistic dentistry apart from traditional or “conventional” dentistry is that it emphasizes approaches to dental care in the context of the patient’s entire physical including their emotional and/or spiritual health.

In broad strokes, holistic dentists tend to agree on the following issues:
1. Mercury Fillings
2. Root Canals
3. Fluoride
4. Biocompatibility of Materials


4. If a practice is mercury-free, does that mean it is a holistic dental practice?

No, holistic dentistry is about more than just not using mercury fillings. Nowadays, there are plenty of dentists that don’t use mercury fillings. However, there are also plenty of ultra-modern dentists who utilize an assortment of tools and services which do more than improve the quality of their patients’ mouths. They too could be labeled “holistic,” whether they choose to self-identify or not.


5. What is mercury poisoning and what are its symptoms?

Mercury poisoning is a type of metal poisoning due to exposure to mercury. High level exposure to methylmercury is known as, Minamata disease. Some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
1. Muscle weakness
2. Poor Coordination
3. Numbness in the hands and feet (extremities)
4. Skin rashes
5. Memory problems
6. Trouble speaking, hearing, and seeing

Note: symptoms will depend upon the type, dose, method and duration of the exposure. In affected children, mercury poisoning may present with the following symptoms/traits:
1. Red cheeks, nose and lips
2. Loss of hair, teeth, and nails
3. Transient rashes
4. Hypotonia (muscle weakness)
5. Increased sensitivity to light.
6. Kidney dysfunction (e.g. Fanconi syndrome)
7. Neuropsychiatric symptoms such as emotional lability, memory impairment, or insomnia

If you think you may have been exposed to mercury or you are exhibiting the aforementioned symptoms, please immediately consult your primary care physician or go to the hospital.


6. What is the holistic dental stance on mercury fillings?

Holistic dentists view mercury as a toxin (which it is) and argue that even trace amounts leaking into the system is harmful and an unnecessary risk for patients. Holistic dentists do not place mercury and meet or exceed safety guidelines for its removal.


7. What is the conventional dental industry’s stance on mercury fillings?

Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and Food & Drug Association (FDA) back the use of amalgams as safe for the use in dentistry by trained, certified dentists.


8. What is Les Belles NYC’s stance on mercury fillings?

We recognize the continued use, safety, and economical merits of mercury/amalgam fillings in conventional dentistry. As part our commitment to reducing patient exposure to toxins and the environmental ramifications of mercury-use overall, we opt not to provide mercury fillings in our practice.


9. What is an amalgam?

An amalgam refers to a mixture or alloy of mercury with another metal. In dentistry, amalgams refer to the use of this mixture as a tooth filling.


10. What are some factors that should be considered when discussing mercury exposure and amalgams?

Factors that should be considered include:
1. The number and size of restorations
2. Composition of amalgam
3. Chewing habits
4. Food texture
5. Grinding
6. Brushing of teeth
7. Other physiological factors


11. Can I have any dentist remove my amalgam filling?

As long as your dentist is trained in the industry protocols for amalgam extraction and disposal, you can have any traditional dentist remove your amalgam filling. At Les Belles NYC, our dentists are trained in the established protocols for the removal and safe disposal of amalgam fillings, and we are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the process.


12. What is the holistic dental stance on root canal therapy?

There are 3 main objections to RCT given by some holistic dentists:
1. Root canal cannot be considered truly effective unless it is 100% sterilized of bacteria. However, studies show that achieving 100% sterility is impossible.
2. The chemicals, such as formaldehyde, used in the root canal therapy process are toxic.
3. Some holistic dentists will argue that bacteria left in the root following RCT can have negative effects on patient health down the road.


13. What is Les Belles NYC’s stance on root canal therapy?

Ultimately, we want our patients to be able to keep what nature gave them and preserve their teeth for as long as possible. Root Canal Therapy (RCT) is traditionally seen as one of the best ways to save a decaying tooth in dentistry. It has a long and verified track record backed by scientific research studies. While we will happily explore options with patients, our best advice is to use RCT when appropriate in order to preserve your teeth. Our office do not use formaldehyde and we utilize the latest technology in the industry to ensure thorough removal and elimination of bacteria. Achieving 100% sterility is impossible as the human mouth is far from sterile. An individual with good oral hygiene have 100-200 species of bacteria living in their mouth at any given time.


14. What is fluorosis?

Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease caused by the accumulation of fluoride in the bones. It is characterized by hyperostosis, osteoporosis, and osteoporosis. Dental fluorosis is an extremely common, characterized by the hypomineralization of tooth enamel caused by ingestion of excessive fluoride during enamel formation. It appears as a range of visual changes in enamel causing degrees of tooth discoloration, pitting, and in some cases, physical damage to the teeth. The severity of the condition is dependent on the dose, duration, and age of the individual during the exposure.


15. What is the difference between topical and ingested fluoride?

Topical fluorides include fluoride tooth pastes, mouth rinses, as well as fluoride gels and treatments. Ingested fluoride refers to fluoride found in water (fresh and sea water), non-dairy beverages like tea, toothpaste (incidentally swallowed), and inhaling fluoride (from burned coal containing high levels of fluoride).

At Les Belles NYC, we offer topical fluoride treatments to preserve tooth enamel, and adhere to the safest, recommended use of such treatments. We are happy to discuss alternative treatments and answer any questions or concerns patients may have about past or present use of topical or ingested fluoride.