Dr. Larry Bennett's Dental Health Blog

Is there a difference between holistic dentists?  The short answer is yes.  While there are many areas of concern in holistic dentistry, some holistic dentists focus on only a few of these areas. Others try to address many or all of them.  These areas of concern include but are not limited to:

  • The use of mercury in dental silver amalgam and the potential negative effects of mercury on a patient’s health.
  • Dental material compatibility, which is unique to each individual and needs to be tested.  If the patient has an allergic response or any sensitivity to a dental material, it should never be used in restorations.

The best way to treat tooth decay is to prevent it in the first place. While conventional and holistic dentists share the idea that prevention is the best policy, they treat tooth decay differently.


The philosophy of a holistic dentist can vary considerably from a conventional dentist, who may view oral disease as a localized problem. For many conventional dentists, examinations and treatment focus on repairing damage, such as tooth decay or bone loss. 

Holistic dentists rely on research that shows connections between dental disease and the health of the body. This connection is called “systemic” because it involves the entire body system. Holistic dentists try to identify and eliminate the cause of disease, and at the same time, repair damage.

Dentistry is not the only field where mercury is a health issue. There is also increasing concern about the use of mercury as a preservative in vaccines. This preservative is called thiomersal (also known as thimerosal).  It is still routinely used in vaccines despite continued calls by well informed health care providers and members of the general public for its ban.

It is important to think about the dental materials used in your mouth. Repairing damaged teeth involves the use of fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures (both full and partial), as well as dental surgery and implants when necessary.  Both conventional and holistic or biologic dentists use these types of restorations and surgery to repair the damage of dental disease, but the choice of what restoration to use and when to use it may vary considerably.

Generally, conventional dentists use materials they like best.  Holistic dentists will recommend that the patient be tested for material compatibility in order to avoid materials that may cause a sensitivity or allergy.

Allergic sensitivity causes inflammation.  If a patient is sensitive to a dental material, the inflammatory response will be most prevalent in the oral tissues, especially those tissues closest to the material, like the gingival tissue, or gums. 

It is very common for gum tissue around a dental restoration to be inflamed.  Dental educators teach their students that dental plaque and calculus (calcified plaque) are the primary cause of inflammation in the mouth. Therefore, during a dental exam or cleaning, a dentist or hygienist will often warn the patient to clean better around such an area.  But this inflammation will never resolve, no matter how effectively the area is cleaned, until the material causing the sensitivity is removed.

Gum disease or periodontal disease affects more than 80 percent of adults in the United States.  Unfortunately most of these people don’t know they have gum disease. Many people ignore the symptoms because they cannot see the infection or feel pain. Treatment is important because gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss. This is where your mouth can get you in trouble.

Women take heed: the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Your chance of developing breast cancer is 1 out of 233 in your twenties, but by age 85 the chances increase dramatically to 1 out of 8.  Research shows there are ways to improve these chances. Implementing healthy eating habits and understanding the consequences of not following good nutrition become even more important for women over 20.

Most experts on breast cancer recommend having a clinical breast exam and a mammogram regularly, but drinking less alcohol, addressing any weight issues, and eating a healthy diet are equally significant.

Over the last century, the number of materials available for use in dentistry has increased so significantly that few dentists are well acquainted with them all.  An increase in the number and types of chemicals used in the dental materials along with technological improvements and new applications continue to expand the choices.

Research and development in this field often emphasize good esthetics and durability over biocompatibility of the materials.  This is understandable since consumers of dental services are asking for beautiful, long lasting smiles.  The consumer assumes that the materials used in dentistry are safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Two issues that affect biocompatibility are a patient’s allergic sensitivity to dental materials and the biologic toxicity of some materials.  Both blood tests and energetic testing can be used to determine whether a particular material is suited to a particular patient.