Holistic dentistry also called alternative dentistry, unconventional dentistry, biologic dentistry, or biocompatible dentistry is the equivalent of complimentary and alternative medicine for dentistry. Holistic dentistry emphasizes approaches to dental care which consider the patient's dental health in the context of their entire physical as well as emotional or spiritual health in some cases. It is part of the alternative health movement. Although the holistic dental community is diverse in its practices and approaches, common threads include strong opposition to the use of amalgam which contain mercury and other potentially toxic materials in dental fillings, nonsurgical approaches to gum disease, and the belief that root canals may endanger systemic health of the patient through the spread of trapped dental bacteria to the body. Many practices and opinions among alternative dentists are criticized as not being evidence-based by the mainstream dental community and skeptics of alternative medicine in general. Generally speaking, such dentists charge far more for the same dental treatment compared to mainstream dentists, as they consider themselves to be providing special care.
The Holistic Dental Network defines the field as: "an approach to Dentistry that promotes health and wellness instead of the treatment of disease. This approach to Dentistry encompasses both modern science and knowledge drawn from the worlds great traditions on natural healing...Holistic Dentistry acknowledges and deals with the mind, body, and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "Teeth". And lays out the following basic principles:
Proper nutrition for the prevention and reversal of degenerative dental disease
Avoidance and elimination of toxins from dental materials
Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite problems=physical imbalance)
Prevention and treatment of gum disease at its biological basis
The Holistic Dental Association writes of that organization's founding: "In 1978, concerned, dedicated dentists came together to share their common interest in treatment modalities that were not included in dental school curriculum. Some of these modalities were very new and others were very old; the one thing that they shared in common was they offered additional options for treatment. These dentists wished to establish an organization that would provide a forum for the development and sharing of health promoting therapies. A shift from the early emphasis of the dentist on modalities to a consideration of the attitudes and feelings of the patient and the dentist has occurred. But the primary goal to teach and to learn has not changed since the founding members first met."