Rethinking Dentistry: An Insight Into Holistic and Biological Concepts

You hear people use several different words for the unique kind of dentistry that we do. Integrative. Functional. Holistic. Biological. It can get to be a little confusing. While there’s definitely some overlap among them, there are subtle but important differences between holistic and biological dentistry, too.

For instance, “integrative” describes a blend of the best that modern clinical dentistry has to offer with “alternative” healing therapies, some high tech and others derived from traditional health practices dating back thousands of years. Old and new, conventional and alternative are integrated; hence, “integrative.”

“Functional,” on the other hand, describes a systems-based approach that focuses on identifying and treating the root cause of disease. As in functional medicine, in functional dentistry, treatments are individualized, based on each patient’s unique health history, biochemistry, and lifestyle.

What Is Holistic Dentistry Definition?

Both of these concepts are often brought together under the banner of “holistic dentistry.” More of a philosophy than a particular set of practices, holistic dentistry respects the fact that oral health and whole body health are inseparable. It acknowledges that each patient is a unique individual in body, mind, and spirit. Because of that, an integrative approach is most apt to meet their needs.

And then there’s biological dentistry, which encompasses all three of these concepts.

What Is Biological Dentistry?

Biological dentistry got its start in the mid-1980s thanks to two California dentists who had been studying various alternative healing practices, particularly German Biological Medicine. This type of medicine is less about “treating disease” and more about stimulating the body’s own self-regulating, self-healing abilities through both physical and energetic therapies.

The two men, Drs. Ed Arana and Gary Verigin, decided to create an organization that would bring together others like them who wanted to understand how to apply the principles of German Biological Medicine to their work as dentists. They called this hybrid “biological dentistry.”

So by definition, biological dentistry follows the philosophy and approach of German Biological Medicine in dealing with any particular dental barriers to optimal health. Dental situations are viewed in the context of a person’s total toxic burden. The state of the patient’s biological terrain must be addressed. After all, the terrain – the extracellular matrix – is what guides the body’s self-regulating abilities.

The organization that Drs. Arana and Verigin founded continues today as the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, the authority on biological dentistry. Here is how they describe the field in their Standards of Practice.

Biological dentistry is concerned with the whole-body effects of all dental materials, techniques, and procedures. It unites the best clinical practices and technologies of western dentistry and medicine with a wide array of modalities beyond the horizon of conventional practice. For biological dentistry acknowledges, appreciates, and considers the complex and dynamic relationships between oral health and systemic health within the context of the whole person. These things are inseparable.


Optimal health and wellness are intimately related to which and how dental materials, techniques and care are provided. We intend to be minimally invasive yet appropriately active.


Biological dentists may be general dentists, periodontists, orthodontists, oral surgeons or pedodontists. In addition to training in their chosen specialty, they also have extensive training in both dental toxicology and specific healing modalities beyond those of western dentistry. The latter include – but are not limited to –
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Airway Management, Ayurveda, herbology, homeopathy, iridology and energy medicine. Specific modalities will vary from dentist to dentist, but all are incorporated into treatment for the betterment of the patient. For the word “biological” refers to life. Any protocol followed must be one designed of components that sustain life or improve the quality of life for individuals pursuing treatment.

Biological Dentistry at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey

This is exactly the approach we take here at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey, where our goal is always to support our patients’ total health and well-being through the best in biocompatible dental care.

That means treating the whole person, with a focus on systems instead of symptoms. It means treating root causes with the most appropriate therapies drawn from a wider-than-usual array of possible treatments.

It also means emphasizing prevention first and opting for the gentlest, least invasive procedures to address any problems that do arise. It means honoring the body’s self-healing abilities and encouraging our patients to take an active role in their care.

Frankly, we can’t imagine doing dentistry any other way.

Of course mouth and body are connected. Nothing could be more obvious, even as mainstream dentistry has long been done in ways that assume that the teeth and their supporting tissues somehow exist independently from the rest of a person.

But the mouth/body connection isn’t just physical. As we’ve noted before, it’s energetic, too. Just as your body has a circulatory system through which blood moves, it has a meridian system through which subtle energy moves. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this energy is called qi (chi); in Ayurveda, prana.

Like the electrical signals that convey information between the brain and the rest of the body and individual cells, qi conveys information, vibrationally rather than electromagnetically. Because of this, there’s a role for energy medicine in biological dental care.

Homeopathy: Informational Energy Medicine
Energy medicine refers to a wide range of therapies that aim to manipulate the body’s subtle energy to spur healing or sustain good health. Familiar forms of this type of treatment include acupuncture, Reiki, and homeopathy.

Homeopathy can also be considered a kind of informational medicine. It essentially tells the body what needs to be done to resolve the symptoms it’s experiencing. Homeopathic remedies are one way of stimulating the body’s natural ability to self-regulate and heal.

It’s important to keep in mind that symptoms are not the illness. They’re signs that the body is doing what it can to heal, whether that’s to remove an infection, detox harmful substances, or otherwise rebound from what caused it to become sick in the first place.

But where pharmaceuticals create their effects with specific molecules that compel the body to suppress symptoms, homeopathics do so via changes in the structure of a carrier substance such as water or a sugar pill. The creation of a homeopathic remedy impresses the carrier substance with information to deliver to the body’s own subtle energy fields, which in turn pass along that information to be used as needed or otherwise ignored.

Strictly speaking, homeopathics are not used to “treat disease.” What they do is provide corrective information energetically that encourages healing. They are messengers.

What happens with the messages they deliver depends entirely on happenings within the person who’s receiving it.

Putting Homeopathy to Work in Dental Care
Many dental conditions can be improved with the aid of homeopathic remedies. For instance, one randomized clinical trial of patients with severe gum disease found that while all improved with periodontal treatment, those who also received homeopathics showed greater improvement. A more recent review of the science found that the clinical trials that matched their criteria “showed positive effects on oral health,” although the authors noted that more and better science in this area still needs to be done.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that most dental problems don’t resolve on their own without professional treatment. For instance, there are at least a dozen remedies that may offer relief from toothache pain, from Antimonium crudum to Staphysagria. Still, it’s important to have the cause of the pain properly diagnosed and treated, whether it’s a fractured or infected tooth, an imbalanced bite, or other cause.

Always, it’s vital to treat root causes rather than symptoms. While Chamomilla, Calcarea phosphorica, Rhus toxicodendron, and other remedies may offer relief from TMJ pain, they don’t necessarily address the actual source of the dysfunction.

Still, it can be good to keep some remedies on hand for when dental emergencies arise, to see you through until you can come in to see us for proper diagnosis and root cause treatment. Here are just a few that you might want to keep on hand:

  •  Aconitum Napellus: To reduce fear and anxiety before a dental appointment.
  •  Arnica Montana: To reduce swelling and ease discomfort following dental procedures. It can also have a calming effect.
  • Calendula Tincture: To promote healing and prevent infection.
  • Chamomilia: To reduce pain and swelling; often found in teething remedies.
  • Hypericum Perforatum: To reduce extreme pain, especially in the case of nerve injury.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of dental remedies and their uses here.

Energy Medicine at the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey
We often use homeopathics here in our biological dental office in Millburn, both as a supportive therapy in treating common dental problems, as well as a tool for facilitating detox after the removal of dental barriers to health – the removal of old mercury amalgam fillings, say, or infected root canal teeth or cavitations. They can also be used to prepare the body for detox before such dental procedures are done.

As ever, the specific protocols are customized to each patient’s needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that we use. Rather, our doctors look at the big picture and make their recommendations accordingly.