Is There a Difference Between “Holistic” & “Biological” Dentistry?

by | Jul 22, 2021 | Biological Dentistry


toothSpend enough time online, and you’ll likely start to notice that a lot of folks seem to use the words “holistic dentistry” and “biological dentistry” interchangeably. Truth be told, though, they mean two different things.

While biological dentistry is certainly holistic, holistic dentistry is not necessarily biological.

“Holistic” describes a philosophy that acknowledges interconnectedness, such as in the link between oral and whole body health. More broadly, holistic health encompasses not just the health of the physical body but mind and spirit, as well.

Biological dentistry – called “biologic” by some – goes beyond this.

While holistic dentistry has been around since at least the early 1970s, biological dentistry is a bit newer. The term was inspired back in the 1980s by Dr. Walter Sturm, founder of the Occidental Institute Research Foundation and mentor to the two American dentists who went on to create what’s now known as the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM). Since the kind of dentistry those two dentists envisioned was rooted in German biological medicine, the term “biological dentistry” seemed only natural.

Since the origin of the term was part and parcel of the IABDM’s founding, their description of biological dentistry should be taken as definitive. Here’s how they describe it 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.

And that’s exactly the kind of dentistry we provide here at Pride Dental in Arlington.

dental chairWhile this might seem nitpicky to some, we feel it’s more important than ever to make the distinction as conventional dentistry continues to catch up with the holistic view in some ways, such as recognizing the link between gum disease and many other inflammatory conditions.

But that doesn’t make them biological. They still place amalgam, after all, and rely on fluoride as if it were a silver bullet against decay. They often give only lip service to nutrition and the impact of other lifestyle factors on oral and whole body health alike – issues that matter greatly to a biological dentist.

Our focus is first on prevention. When treatment is needed, the gentlest and least invasive methods are preferred. We acknowledge and do what we can to support the body’s innate ability to self-regulate and heal. And we encourage our patients to take an active role in that process.

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This blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for individual health, fitness or medical advice.

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