With increasing knowledge about the nature of true health - and the intimate connection between body systems – there’s a growing awareness of the importance of the oral environment. Holistic and biologic dentistry is an aspect of dental practice that considers this connection a top priority.
Lead dentist at Dentistry on Merivale, Dave Walsh, is one of just a handful of holistic dentists in New Zealand. While he has been practicing this way for decades, he says it’s only more recently that many others in the profession have truly started down this track.
“New Zealand only has a small fraction of holistic practitioners compared to Canada, Europe, Australia and USA – we’re definitely a little behind the curve,” says Dave. “But people are becoming much more educated about health, and about how dental health is an integral part of that. We’re beginning to see an increasing interest in holistic dental practices, and I get calls from people all over New Zealand who have questions and concerns about their dental treatment.”
Holistic refers to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, explains Dave.
“If there’s decay, we’ll look at things like diet, systemic inflammation, sleep quality, microbiome, chronic infection, autoimmune disorders and chemical sensitivities. Tooth enamel is the hardest material in our body – if that’s decaying, you need to wonder about what’s happening to the rest of the body.”
Potential exposure to possible toxins through dental filling materials is also a big part of truly biologic dental practice. Mercury, BPA and other phthalates, Gluma, HEMA and titanium dioxide are just a few of the chemicals that can be found in dental filling materials. To what degree these chemicals are absorbed into the body - as well as to what degree they can affect overall health - is an evolving body of scientific knowledge.
“Continuous, albeit very low, exposure may indeed have systemic effects over time. It’s very difficult to directly link this to chronic disease, but holistic/biologic dentistry considers the possibility and does everything it can to mitigate it.”
One of the most exciting new technologies to hit the biologic dentistry world is the chemistry of restorative systems.
“I started a company called Bioholistic New Zealand a couple of years ago with the goal of searching for and importing the most biologically compatible restorative systems available. At the moment one of the best is Saremco, a Swiss company that has, and is continuing to, develop toxin-free materials for restorative and prosthetic dentistry.”
Dave sells the systems to several New Zealand dental practices and believes that as awareness continues to grow, more and more people will request toxin-free materials from their dentist.
“As holistic dentists we try to look beyond the mouth with the view that oral health and systemic health are intertwined in the overall holistic functioning of the body and mind. When people are doing everything they can to be as healthy as possible, or if they are dealing with a chronic disease, then holistic dentistry can have a significant impact. It’s remarkable how often people return a year or so after cleaning up their oral health and report seemingly unrelated health improvements – from less brain fog right through to fewer body aches.
“It’s a very rewarding style of practice for the practitioner too, as the relationships that develop with like-minded clients form the bedrock of a great day at the office!”