In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of practices offering holistic dentistry and this has largely been customer driven. In the past, clients were happy just to have a dentist fix their teeth but attitudes to dentistry have been gradually changing. The internet has made people much more informed about all aspects of dentistry and how oral health impacts on other areas of their lives. People are turning to their dentist for information about everything from the right diet to sleep problems to treatment options to environmental impacts of materials.
Evolve Dental Healing sees patients from all walks of life who come in and just expect more. They ask better questions and they're much more informed about heading along a holistic path in their health care. It's this that has created a demand for holistic dentistry but if you’ve never heard of it before you’re likely to be wondering what, exactly, is a holistic approach to dentistry? Where as dentistry traditionally focuses on the teeth and gums, the focus of holistic dentistry is primarily on the person attached to the teeth and gums. That basic philosophical difference has quite an impact on the way we see dental disease in regard to health and wellbeing.
Dr Rachel Hall, who runs Evolve Dental Healing in the Brisbane suburb of Kenmore, says, “While we focus on the physical effects of dental health on the body and vice versa, we also understand that for many patients, having dental treatment brings up numerous emotional issues and stresses. Holistic dentistry includes mainstream dentistry in conjunction with a focus on diet and nutrition, the use of supplements where appropriate, along with techniques to improve emotional and energetic wellbeing. It’s a complete person approach.”
Dr Rachel goes on to say, “Most people are striving to be as healthy as they can be and we are flexible and willing to provide the services our patients' desire and request even if it means doing research on their behalf. And thus while we are actively treating patients gum disease we are also treating things like sleep apnoea which has a direct impact on general health and people’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing,"
The first time Dr Rachel Hall discovered the importance of holistic dentistry was in 2000. "I started working at a holistic practice and it surprised me how few people understood the link between their health and their mouth, and how diet and lifestyle play a role in dental health. I now focus on our patients’ oral health needs by supporting people with issues like bad breath, dry mouth and chronic TMJ problems. Along with this, I offer nutritional advice, supplements and insights into their dental issues that go beyond brush, floss and avoid sugar. People want to know what they can do to be healthy and prevent problems, especially when it comes to dental decay and gum disease.”
Holistic dentists usually spend a lot of time getting to know as much about their patients as possible where they examine the patient and discuss their health to get a really good picture of their general health, oral health, what their priorities are in terms of what needs to be doing for them and what they need to be doing for themselves to give them a full understanding of their issues.
One area that's common to all holistic dentists is their desire to eliminate mercury amalgam. It's illegal for a dentist to dispose of mercury amalgam in the garbage, the toilet or down the sink. It has to be disposed of as toxic waste. Yet there are still professionals who can’t quite make the connection that putting mercury into a human being is not a good thing for people’s health.
Another skill a holistic dentist has is an extended list of good contacts—other professionals that will cover different problems. Dr Hall has a lot of involvement with other professions—not just mainstream doctors and other dentists but also allied health professionals in physio, bodywork and nutrition for example.
While holistic dentists are sometimes seen as 'alternative', they are still hard-nosed professionals who use the latest technology to create great patient outcomes. Digital radiography with its lower levels of radiation has been enthusiastically embraced. Amalgam separators and retrieval units ensure that no mercury enters the water supply. It's common for units such as the IQAir DentalVacHg to be used when mercury amalgam is being removed. "It's designed to suction and filter mercury vapour given off while drilling amalgams thus ensuring that no mercury vapour is inhaled by the patient or dental team," explains Dr Hall. "We always use rubber dam when removing amalgam where possible but when we can’t anchor the dam or when the patient finds it challenging, we use CleanUp Tips from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) which is a suction device that gets placed directly over and around the tooth."
The fact that these technologies are often complemented with aromatherapy, complementary therapies and healing techniques is the very reason that patient numbers are growing in holistic practices. Evolve Dental Healing offers a range of supplements, including an anti-oxidants and natural oral health products to support with the after affects of dental treatments and removal of mercury amalgam fillings.
“The core of holistic dentistry is about building a relationship with our patients and using whatever means are necessary to create the best possible outcomes. The key to health care is to have a clear vision of what causes ill-health, how you can encourage people to be well and how you fit in as their chosen health professional”. As Dr Hall states “We’ve been a holistic practice since 2005 and it has been working for us. If, as a profession, we stick with the old way of doing things, we’re going to be faced with some major challenges. This could be the most difficult time our industry has ever faced—or it could be the golden age of dentistry and most importantly patient care”.
Dr Rachel has limited new patient openings each week, if you would like a holistic approach to your dental care call us today 07 3720 1811