The lowdown on holistic dentistry
Get next-level with your teeth, and try the latest dental trend: holistic dentistry. Dr Lewis Ehrlich gives us the lowdown…
What is holistic dentistry exactly?
Holistic dentistry is not only about the health of the teeth and the gums, it’s about the person connected to the teeth and gums. It’s a philosophy that can provide improved health outcomes for everyone. Traditionally, the mouth has been thought of in isolation from the rest of the body and having little bearing on our general health. However, as time goes on more and more links between oral health and general health are surfacing. Holistic dentistry is all about making these connections. Those connections are:
- The mouth is home to two of the most common diseases known to humans: gum disease and dental decay. Gum disease is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, pre-term birth weight and difficulties falling pregnant. Similarly, enamel (the outermost surface of the tooth) is the hardest part of the body – 10 times harder than bone. If your teeth have holes because of your dietary choices, imagine what these choices are doing to the rest of your body. Holistic dentistry is about empowering people to make lifestyle choices that are beneficial to the teeth and gums but also the rest of the body.
- The mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Because it is highly sensitive, imbalances in the way your teeth come together can contribute to headaches, muscle tension and chronic pain. Many people don’t realise that headaches are not normal, and that they may be coming from the teeth and jaw.
- The mouth is the start of the digestive tract. If your jaw joints and teeth are not working optimally, then you cannot breakdown your food effectively and get all the nutrients from your food.
- The mouth is the gateway to the respiratory tract. Therefore, the shape of your upper and lower jaws, the position of the tongue and way the muscles around the lips and cheeks work, affects the quality of your breathing and sleeping (including susceptibility to sleep apnea). We should be breathing through our noses not our mouths for optimal health – noses are for breathing, mouths are for feeding.
What can I expect during an appointment?
There is no set formula as to what will happen in a holistic dentistry appointment but at the Sydney Holistic Dental Centre, we believe that there are many stressors that can impact on the oral health and general health of our patients. These include: dental, nutritional, postural, environmental and emotional stress. We try to gather as much information about the health and habits of a patient so that we can make the biggest impact. This includes getting to know what they do in their day-to-day lives; why they have specifically come to see us and what they are hoping to achieve; a thorough assessment of sleeping habits and routine; an assessment of the airway and breathing quality; details about any headaches, neckaches and jaw aches; a detailed diet assessment; oral hygiene routine; a thorough gum assessment and oral cancer screen ; assessment of the muscles of the shoulders, neck and jaw; and finally, we take a series of scans to assess the teeth, gums and jaw joints. A thorough treatment plan is then formulated for the patient as well as tailored tips on how to improve their oral and general health.
Who is it good for?
Holistic dentistry is for anyone with a mouth, with an interest in health but hasn’t made the connection between the two – a big target market! This includes children. It’s important to get into good eating, breathing, sleeping and oral hygiene habits early.