According to the Holistic Dental Network, the doctors following a holistic approach do not provide an isolated treatment of the patient’s affected teeth, but consider the effects of any such treatment on the body, mind and spirits of the patient. Holistic dentistry creates a harmony between our traditional knowledge about natural healing and the analytical power of modern science and research. The entire focus is shifted from treatment of the disease to the health and well-being of the patient. Holistic dentistry is based on the following four basic principles:
1. Treatment, prevention and even reversal of degenerative dental diseases through Proper nutrition
2. Treatment and prevention of physical imbalance or dental malocclusion
3. Use of safe dental materials instead of toxic mercury based filling materials.
4. Use of natural science and biological methods for treatment and prevention of gum diseases
The Holistic Dental Association highlights the events that led to the development of holistic dentistry. The association pointed out that some dedicated dentists in 1978 decided to extend the conventional dental treatment modalities with their own knowledge and experience. Some modalities refined the traditional knowledge while many of them were introduced for the first time. However, all of them provided new treatment options to the patients, which was not part of the curriculum in dental colleges. The dental doctors established Holistic Dental Association to promote and share dental therapies that focused on the health and well-being of the patients rather than modalities of a treatment. This is the reason why the modalities of treatment in holistic approach have also considerably changed since the association was formed, but the focus on sharing knowledge about bringing comprehensive changes in health and well-being remains intact.
The treatment modalities involving the use of mercury as one of the ingredients in the dental filling amalgam has probably raised the greatest controversy because of the mercury’s toxic effects. The scientists mostly agree that mercury is a toxic substance, and dental amalgams introduce mercury into the mouth, but they disagree on the toxic effects from a very small amount of mercury as various clinical trials have produced widely divergent results. Even though disputes run high, dental amalgams can result in mercury exposure from 1 -3 micrograms (µg) per day as per FDA guidelines. According to Patterson, mercury exposure can increase up to 27 µg per day. The environmental concerns caused a ban on the use of mercury based dental fillings in countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden, but most of the countries approve the use of mercury based amalgams for dental fillings. There is very strict waste disposal protocol for residual mercury amalgams in most of the countries due to environmental regulations, but Sweden is the only country that has banned the use of mercury based filling materials because of the direct toxicity and exposure to mercury.