The world is changing, so maybe it’s time dentistry changes with the increasing demand for health and wellness services.
The global wellness market is estimated at more than $1.5 trillion. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the health and wellness industry reached $4.4 billion, and its expected growth is estimated to be 5%–10% until 2030.1
Today, people are more connected with the advancement in digital technology and access to data. Patients have access to real-time information and are more aware of what’s going on with their bodies systemically. As a result, there is an overwhelming demand for organic, natural, sustainable products and services. A holistic approach to dentistry can fill this growing demand.
What exactly is holistic dentistry?
Holistic dentistry, also known as biological dentistry, is a philosophical approach to the practice of dentistry.2 Holistic dentistry involves treating the whole body, which may include nutritional counseling, herbology, homeopathic treatment, and spiritual healing.
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Holistic dentistry does not utilize materials that may cause potential harm to the body, unlike traditional dental procedures that may include the use of mercury-based amalgam fillings, formaldehyde-based root canal therapies, and fluoridated dentifrices.
The basic philosophy of holistic dentistry involves the mouth—> body—> mind relationship.
The objective is to provide patients with preventive and conservative approaches to care that involve whole-body health care, which benefits the body as well as the teeth and gums.
What it’s not: Facts versus myths
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about holistic dentistry.2
Fact: According to the European Journal of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, there is great scientific evidence associated with the therapies that are used in holistic dentistry, following six basic principles:2
- Biochemical balance: the concept of Biological Terrain, which incorporates the qualities of water, nutrition, and degenerative dental disease.
- Biocompatibility: the approach that considers how the patient’s organs affect the teeth and vice versa.
- Biomechanics: refers to structural integrity and function and the balance of compressive forces and tension.
- Bioesthetics: diagnoses the causes of chewing disharmony, including the relationship between occlusion, temporomandibular joint, and the airway, while achieving the optimal biologic form.3
- Bioethical care: care based on autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice.4
- Bioenergetics: applies the combination of the body’s energy signature and wavelength in relation to the corresponding energy signature in the corresponding body part.5
Common treatment protocols usually involve one, a combination, or all the following:
- Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion
- Bite issues and physical impedance
- Avoidance and elimination of toxins from various dental materials
- Prevention and treatment of gingival disease
- Recommendations for proper nutrition for prevention and reversal of regenerative dental disease5
Myth: No diagnostic radiographs
Fact: Holistic dentists utilize phase contrast microscopes, digital x-rays, cone beam CT, and CBCT imagery with the most advanced imaging techniques, so they expose their patients to lower doses of radiation.5 High-quality diagnostic imaging allows the dentist to create a more accurate treatment plan that most holistic dentists employ, assisting the dentist with diagnosis of conditions such as sleep apnea, TMJ dysfunction, and caries detection.
Myth: No restorative care
Fact: There is an array of restorative methods that include concepts around biomimetic dentistry, using the principle of maintaining and saving most of the natural tooth structure. The biomimetic method uses biocompatible materials that mimic the tooth’s natural composition.
What should patients expect from a holistic dentist?
- Mercury-free restoration: including extensive operatory field isolation during amalgam removal
- Ozone therapy: which can be done as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with disinfection of dental cavitations
- Fluoride-free, BPA-free materials: used during preventive hygiene and dental procedures
- Use of nonradiation cavity detection devices: e.g., the Canary System cavity detection system6
- Natural alternative to local sedation: e.g., NuCalm, an antianxiety system that applies neuropsychobiology and neurobioinformatics to mimic the body’s natural brain wave function to promote relaxation7
Is holistic dentistry profitable?
The short answer is yes. As with traditional dentistry, the same CDT billing codes are used for medically necessary procedures. Conversely, some “holistic” or “alternative” procedures may be considered experimental and thus not be covered under dental or medical insurance. Patients would be responsible for the additional out-of-pocket expenses for these add-on holistic services.
For example, the typical usual and customary fees for ozone therapy as a stand-alone treatment or along with dental treatment can be anywhere from $199 to $300 for a 15- to 30-minute treatment. NuCalm can see reimbursement during treatment of a minimum of $45 dollars depending on practice location and time spent for the procedure.
The latest buzz in the health and wellness industry is intravenous vitamin infusion therapy as part of the add-on holistic wellness services. These services can be very lucrative and generate income anywhere from $160 to $399 depending on the vitamin cocktail being administered. Offering products such as Theodent, a fluoride-free, sodium lauryl sulfate-free, high-end product line, to your patients can increase revenue as supplementary products to complement dental treatment. Even something as simple as a massage chair in the waiting room or an area dedicated as a wellness space in the office can add value to treatment and increase nonchair revenue. A 15- to 30-minute chair massage can generate income from $45 to $60 depending on how you incorporate this service into your practice.
How can your practice make the transition into holistic dentistry?
If you are interested in transitioning your dental office into a holistic practice, you may want to consider certification and training from the organizations that can assist you in navigating this change:
- Holistic Dental Association
- International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
- Academy of Biomimetic Dentistry
- International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine
The opportunities are endless if you are willing to make changes to incorporate holistic dentistry into your practice. Keep in mind the population you’re serving, the cost, and the services you want to implement. As dental providers, we should keep in mind the needs of our patients as we provide the best practices for preventive care, treatment, and diagnosis.
- Callaghan S, Lösch M, Pione A, Teichner W. Feeling good: the future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market. McKinsey & Company. April 8, 2021. Accessed May 9, 2022. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/feeling-good-the-future-of-the-1-5-trillion-wellness-market
2. Sami R, Anita M, Vidhyarekha U, Sadhana K, Pugazendhi T. Holistic dentistry: a natural approach to dental and oral health—review article. Eur J Mol Clin Med. 2020;7(2):6731-6734.
- OBI Foundation for Bioesthetic Dentistry. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://www.bioesthetics.com/
- Naidoo S. Community Oral Health & Bioethics. 5th ADEA International Women’s Leadership Conference. Barcelona. September 16, 2014. https://www.adea.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=25395
- Vigarniya MM, Rathee M. A literature review on holistic dentistry. J Oral Health Comm Dent. 2018;12(3):106-110. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10062-0036
- The Canary System. http://www.thecanarysystem.com/
- NuCalm. Solace Lifesciences. https://www.nucalm.com/