The Differences – & Similarities – Between Holistic & Biological Dentistry
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, 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.
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.