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What is alternative dentistry?

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Alternative dentistry, known more commonly as holistic dentistry, is based on the understanding that patients' oral health is dependent on their entire physical, emotional or spiritual well-being. Most alternative dentists use a variety of healing traditions to treat the causes of their patients' discomfort, according to Wrigleyville Dental.

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Some of the major differences between holistic dentists and traditional dentists include the use of mercury fillings, root canal therapy and fluoride use, explains the Center for Natural Dentistry. A primary concern for holistic dentists is the biocompatibility of dental materials. While mercury fillings are considered safe for use by traditional dentists, holistic dentists treat mercury as a toxin and avoid the risk of exposing their patients to the toxic metal. Similarly, holistic dentists maintain that root canal therapy is only effective under the condition that the canal is completely sterilized and cleaned of bacteria, which is not possible in normal circumstances.

Holistic dentists do not recommend the use of ingested fluoride for any purpose, notes the Center for Natural Dentistry. These dentists refer to research that indicates a connection between ingested fluoride and cancer. Holistic dentists believe that the materials the body ingests for oral hygiene purposes can have significant repercussions if not chosen for their biocompatibility, and they choose to use composite filling materials shown not to react with their patients' bodies.

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