What is a holistic dentist? How does holistic dentistry differ from the traditional one?

Jack Lawrence

Written by Jack Lawrence DMD, Benjamin Wang DDS, Peter March DDS

A holistic dentist is one that practices an alternative approach to oral issues. They take into account the whole body in order to treat it from within, rather than providing symptomatic solutions.

When visiting such a dentist you can expect the incorporation of hypnosis, homeopathy, aromatherapy, nutrition, and herbology. Biological dentists focus on individualized treatment.

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Holistic dentist vs. dental specialists

Traditional and holistic dentists most often will treat the same patient in completely different ways. The regular dental professional focuses on mouth problems only. Natural dentists will look for connections between oral and general health problems and treat them holistically.

Natural dentists tend to charge a lot more for their procedures due to their unconventional approach. They reject some of the standards that traditional dentistry has deemed safe and healthy.

In terms of education, most holistic dentists obtain their certification through IABDM (International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine). This includes several courses and a practical presentation of removing amalgam fillings.

What makes holistic dentistry different?

Holistic dentistry is centered around the belief that any interference with the body impacts the entire organism.

What’s more, each pateints is served individually. This means that you might get entirely different procedures than a friend or family member for a similar condition.

Overall approach to health

Periodic dental exam

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Biological dentists treat all problems as traditional doctors treat systemic diseases. This means they look at issues holistically.

Holistic dentistry lays stress on:

  • proper nutrition,
  • elimination and avoidance of toxins, and
  • prevention rather than treatment.

Different methods for treating common issues

Root canal treatment

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Natural dentists oppose using what they consider toxic materials and surgery whenever possible. This means their approach to common dental issues may differ a lot to what the average patient is used to.

Gum disease

While traditional dentists treat gum disease with a procedure known as scaling and root planing, integrative dentists do things differently. A popular way among holistic dentists is to target periodontitis with laser treatment. The wavelengths are calibrated to remove diseased tissue along with bacteria while leaving the gums unharmed.

Tooth decay

Holistic dentists avoid drilling altogether. They also refuse to fill cavities with materials that contain mercury (more on this below). Instead, they use composite. This material has a lot of advantages, mainly aesthetic. Traditional dentists often exploit this option and it is becoming the norm.

Contaminated root canals

Natural dentists’ solution is to extract the contaminated tooth and conduct cavitation of the socket with ozone irrigation. This comes from the fact that they believe bacteria in the tooth can never be fully eliminated through cleaning the root canals.

Biocompatible and non-toxic materials

Amalgam dental filling

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Holistic dentistry lays stress on using non-toxic materials that, ideally, exist in the body already. This is all to prevent buildup of any substance that may cause harm in the long term.


Unconventional dentists claim that fluoride may lead to reduced IQ, weakening bones, more common fractures, white spots on the teeth, and thyroid harm. They oppose using fluoride products or drinking fluoridated water.

Traditional dentists, on the other hand, encourage patients to use both toothpaste and fluoridated water. According to the ADA there is no risk involved and many benefits to be gained. In fact they stress that this mineral is very important to young children's tooth development.


One of the biggest concerns of natural dentists is the use of amalgam fillings. They believe it is detrimental to health due to trace amounts of mercury. This material, allegedly, is toxic to the body and may be related to thyroid issues and Alzheimer’s disease.

The FDA considers amalgam fillings safe. They recommend use in adults and children over 6. Based on research, experts confirm that there is no need to worry. They add that claims about the dangers are based on outdated studies.

Activated charcoal

Biological dentists also promote using activated charcoal to whiten teeth. This is a natural substance, and even if injected, passes through the organism without being absorbed. You can buy it in pellets or in dental products such as toothpaste.

Traditional dentists along with the ADA advise against using it, however. This is because it is found to be abrasive and may scratch off enamel. One way or another, use it with caution.

Alternative treatment

Holistic dentistry takes advantage of natural remedies and practices that are rarely used anywhere else.


Homeopathy is based on the assertion that “like cures like”. Holistic doctors use medicaments that would normally induce the symptomes they are meant to cure. The substances are of course diluted and come from vegetables or minerals.


Natural dentists use pure oil essences to boost a patient’s homeostasis. The main goals are to soothe and relax. Such substances are dispersed in the air in order to make dental procedures less discomforting.


Hypnosis is an alternative approach to managing pain and anxiety. Awareness is not lost and patients do not become unconscious. This practice can make the use of drugs as anesthetics unnecessary. Some specialists employ a combination.


What are the potential risks of holistic dentistry?

The biggest concern is tooth decay. Holistic dentists oppose the use of fluoride. Since this substance has been proven to prevent cavities, avoiding it may lead to more frequent need for fillings.

As a patient of a natural dentist, you can also expect to require tooth replacement solutions more often. They treat contaminated dentition by pulling it. Otherwise, you may also be at risk of a severe infection. There is also little research on how holistic dentistry impacts chronic illness. You may not be a good candidate for such treatment. What’s more, some herbal remedies interfere with how prescription drugs work in your body.

Why do people see holistic dentists?

Patients of holistic dentists are mostly those who want to avoid the use of mercury and who are afraid of root canal treatment. The American Association of Endodontists stresses that the claims of the harmfulness of RCT is based on outdated research.

Is a biological dentist suitable for children?

It is up to the parents to decide which dentist to go with. It’s best to do thorough research before making a final decision.

Holistic dentistry opposes many recommendations made by respected organizations such as the ADA. This includes, for example, the use of fluoride or sealants to prevent cavities. This is an established practice, however you may decide it is non ideal for your child.

How much does a holistic dentist cost?

Natural dentists are a lot more expensive than traditional ones. What’s more, many insurance policies don’t reimburse patients for holistic treatment.

Are holistic dentists covered by insurance?

Holistic dentistry is not recognized as a specialty by most insurance providers. While it is possible to be reimbursed, you will have to do some work yourself. Unconventional dentists are rarely (or never) listed as in-network specialists. This means you might have to pay out of pocket and file a claim for reimbursement.

You can book your appointment by using the dentist around me service. You will be informed whether a given holistic dentist accepts your insurance.


  1. International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine - IABDM
  2. A Safe Protocol for Amalgam Removal - NCBI
  3. Holistic dentistry. Where does the holistic end and the quackery begin? - PubMed
  4. Systemic Disease - ScienceDirect
  5. Laser Treatment for Gum Disease - AAP
  6. Dental Composite - ScienceDirect
  7. DNA analysis of root canal teeth and cavitation surgery of sockets utilizing ozone water irrigation: a pilot study - ResearchGate
  8. Community Water Fluoridation - CDC
  9. Fluoride toothpaste use for young children - JADA
  10. A Mom's Guide to Fluoride - Mouth Healthy
  11. The Dental Amalgam Toxicity Fear: A Myth or Actuality - NCBI
  12. Charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices: A literature review - JADA
  13. Homeopathy: What You Need To Know - NCCIH
  14. Homeostasis - ScienceDirect