What Is A Holistic Dentist?

How To Know If Your Dentist is Holistic

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

I am a huge fan of holistic dentists and holistic dentistry — it’s true preventive health care. Holistic dentists practice a form of dentistry that takes into account a person’s entire state of health — physical, emotional, and even spiritual. I don’t get regular annual check ups or screenings, but I do get my teeth cleaned twice per year.

Oral health is crucial for your overall health. Poor oral health may be a risk factor for — or indicate the presence of — diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Since 1978, the Holistic Dental Association has supported holistic dentists and helped to educate the public about the health benefits of dentistry. Well before that time my father practiced holistic dentistry. He taught his patients the importance of oral health, and he actually could tell a person’s state of health just by looking in their mouth.

How To Know If Your Dentist is Holistic

Views among holistic dentists may differ. But, most holistic dentists advise and offer programs on preventative care that goes beyond practicing good oral hygiene. For example, they may educate you on the importance of good nutrition, advise you to quit smoking, and tell you why you should consume alcohol in moderation if you drink.

Many holistic dentists also use digital X-ray equipment, which means you are exposed to substantially less radiation. And, they typically do not take nearly as many X-rays as traditional dentists. In addition, holistic dentists typically use natural antibacterial agents when performing common dental procedures, including gum cleanings and placement or removal of amalgam fillings.

Here are some questions to ask your dentist to determine if he or she is truly holistic:

  • What materials do you use to fill cavities? Holistic dentists do not use metals such as amalgam, nickel or other metals to fill cavities. Instead they use composite resin, a practice that has also become common among dentists who do not describe themselves as holistic.

  • How do you treat gum disease? Using non-surgical approaches to healing gum disease is something that many holistic dentists believe in. Some holistic dentists treat different stages of gum disease using highly effective lasers and ozone treatments to clear the areas of bacteria. They may use an iodine irrigation system to help prevent harmful bacteria from entering the gums. And, some may prescribe herbal remedies to promote faster, natural healing.

  • What is your view on fluoride? Most holistic dentists are against fluoride treatments because they believe that fluoride does not prevent tooth decay and that it can cause long-term health problems, including an increased risk of cancer. Truly holistic dentists do not even offer fluoride treatments.  Now, even some traditional dentists are starting to ask parents whether they want their children to have fluoride or not.

  • Do you remove wisdom teeth? It seems that removing wisdom teeth has been a rite of passage for young adults for a long time. But, it’s not always necessary. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 2/3 of wisdom tooth extractions are unnecessary. If your wisdom teeth are correctly positioned, fully erupted and not crowding other teeth, you probably don’t need to have them removed. If your dentist routinely removes wisdom teeth even if there is no pain or infection, that is a big clue that he is not holistic.

  • Do you perform root canals? Some dentists who say they are holistic are firmly against root canals because they believe that root canals can put your health at risk due to the spread of bacteria. These dentists believe that the best option is to pull infected teeth. This way of thinking began in the early 1900s when a dentist named Dr. Weston Price wrote extensively about a wide range of medical problems related to treating infected teeth. You can learn more about Dr. Weston Price’s views on dentistry here. But, these opinions are far from mainstream. In my experience the best holistic dentists use both natural and conventional therapies. A truly holistic dentist is open-minded about root canals and other procedures and treatments, and may recommend or perform them. If your dentist says he absolutely never would perform or recommend a root canal or other common procedure, you may want to consider looking for a dentist that is open to evaluating each person — and tooth — individually.

What To Do If You Have Amalgam Fillings

In the past, many dental treatments, such as fillings, required using substances that we now know can be toxic.  For example, most fillings were done with amalgam, which contains more than 50% mercury and can damage your central nervous and immune systems. But, not everyone who has amalgam fillings has a problem with them. While I am not a fan of amalgams — I had all of mine removed in 1985 — many people never have a problem with them.

If you have amalgam fillings you don’t need to live in fear. Just get regular check ups and make sure that they are not leaking. Now, if you have symptoms that could be attributed to mercury, such as muscle and joint pain, stiffness and cramping, chronic fatigue, chemical or food sensitivities, or significant neurological symptoms that can mimic Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases, then you may be better off having your amalgam fillings removed.

It’s much easier today to find dentists who really know how to do this safely. One of the best places to get amalgam fillings removed at a reasonable cost is Sanoviv Medical Institute in Baja California, Mexico.

What To Do If You Need A Root Canal

Root canal surgery is used to save a tooth that is fractured or badly decayed, and to prevent or treat infection. During a root canal procedure, your dentist will remove the nerve and pulp from your tooth, clean the inside of your tooth and then seal it.

Traditional dentists will typically treat a bad tooth with medication and lifestyle changes and may delay a root canal procedure until the tooth is in a severe state. On the other hand, many holistic dentists believe that the time to do a root canal is when the problem is mild. This way the tooth is being treated when it is not in an inflamed state and the nerves inside the tooth haven’t shrunk, which can make the tooth even more difficult to treat. By performing a root canal in the earlier stages, you are more likely to get a good result.

If you have been advised that you need a root canal, be sure to learn everything you can about the procedure, including what medications and tooth sealing materials your dentist (or endodontist) will use.  Also, a root canal can become re-infected if the restoration leaks, so you need to maintain good oral hygiene and be sure to get regular check ups to ensure that the tooth or the sealing materials haven’t broken down over time.

As with any medical procedure, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into making decisions or undergoing treatment until you have all of your questions answered. Choose the dentist you are most comfortable with and who listens to your needs. You may also want to search the Holistic Dental Association database to find a holistic dental practice near you.

9 Easy Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

  1. Try oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil (usually coconut, sesame or olive oil) in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. Then spitting it out. While there is no proof that this technique can draw out toxins from your body, oil pulling is a great replacement for mouthwash because it doesn’t kill all of the good bacteria in your mouth. It may also help to remove plaque and whiten your teeth, among other benefits.
  2. Ditch the sugar. When you were a child someone probably told you not to eat sugar because it would rot your teeth. And, this one is actually true! Tooth decay happens when the acid in your mouth attacks your enamel and dentine causing cavities. This happens when you eat sugar because plaque uses sugar as fuel, then releases acid as a waste product. So, the sugar you consume actually helps to create an environment that leads to tooth decay.
  3. Get Acupuncture. Each tooth is at the end of an acupuncture meridian. So, a problem with a tooth can be an indication that you have an imbalance in another organ or system. Or, a filling or trauma to a tooth can create chronic stimulation of an organ along its energy meridian and create an imbalance.  Acupuncture can help bring your energy system back into balance. Sometimes treating the tooth is necessary as well. Check out this interactive tooth meridian chart for more information.
  4. Quit smoking. There are really no benefits to smoking; just tons of health risks. The important question to ask whenever you put anything in your mouth habitually, whether it be cigarettes, gum, candy or whatever, is this: Why are your oral needs not being met? Perhaps you eat too much processed food and don’t chew enough. Maybe you are afraid to speak your truth and so you stuff it down and “blow smoke” instead.
  5. Brush with natural toothpaste. Most of the benefits of tooth brushing come from the actual act of brushing, not toothpaste, which is often filled with potentially harmful ingredients such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), fluoride, artificial flavors, and more. One alternative is to create your own paste out of Indian Lilac (neem). Neem has antibacterial properties that help fight the bacteria that cause cavities, plaque, and gum disease. Another natural alternative to chemically-laden toothpaste is to brush with sea salt. Of course, there are many natural toothpastes on the market now, such as Earthpaste, Toms of Maine, and Dr. Bronner’s.
  6. Use floss. Flossing helps keep your gums healthy and removes bacteria and food from between your teeth where it can cause plaque to form. If you don’t like using floss, you can try air flossing with an electric air flosser.
  7. Eat a balanced diet. Like the rest of your body, your teeth need nutrients to stay healthy, especially calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and magnesium to build and strengthen tooth enamel and protect your teeth.
  8. Drink Water. Water helps wash away food and bacteria left in your mouth. It also neutralizes acid that can erode tooth enamel. Make it a habit to rinse your mouth with water after meals.
  9. Don’t ignore symptoms. Tooth sensitivity or discoloration, bleeding gums, or oral pain may have underlying causes. If something unusual or new has happened to your teeth, gums or mouth, let your dentist know right away.

Do you use a holistic dentist?  How is your oral health? Please leave your comments below.


Last Updated: August 8, 2017

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Kelly
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrup,

    I’m 57 and post menopausal about a year now and in good health. I recently developed
    a dry, burning and tingling feeling on my tongue! Is this an unusual
    menopause symptom and is a Holistic Dentist a good place to help
    me with this problem? PLEASE HELP…

  2. Pat
    2 years ago

    Dear Doc
    Hi I miss you so much in Instagram ! Tks God I signed for your newsletter !
    DO you know of a website list of european holistic doctors? I am in northern Italy and cant find any here.

  3. Marko
    5 years ago

    Hi i am 27 years old and i had a root canal done on 6th of january,and day after tomorrow i started having severe symptoms like temperature,fever,nausea,sudden weakness,shakiness and blood pressure spikes that i have had never before.
    After 5-6 days i had the tooth removed but the possible bacteria presence and infection probabbly remained,which maybe even traveled to other sites in my body.
    It is a second mollar which is deep in my sinus.Until today,i have lost 10-15kg on my previously 70kg weight.Did not have an apetite for 2 months and in the meantime,my GI tract,small intestine especially,
    does not function as it should.Have not been able to sleep normally since that day,with constant severe symptoms like hand and leg numbness,rapid heart beating.After a month i did many lab tests,that came in order,so the doctors say.
    From a regular and solid bowel movement i came to the stage that my bowels are stuck,i had to use massages and coffee enemas,to get rid of fecal matter.
    I was exercising daily before this and was in ok health,did not eat any processed foods or sugars.
    Had my sinus opened by oral surgeons,so i can wait for surgery and after 2 months of constant sinus breaking,they,the EXPERTS,concluded that sinus closed itself naturaly,which i noticed after a few days.
    Started using ozone equipment for clearing out sinuses from possible infections on my own as a gas,would like to ask you how can i do this on my own with a tooth pocket that remained,since whenever i have these “seizures”,
    cavity starts with a dull pain,my head starts to radiate some sort of pain,which is affecting my whole body in a very stressful and unbearable toxicity,in lack of a better expression or explanation.
    Dentists in Serbia never even heard of ozone in dentistry,let alone to use it.I’m barely able to function at all,with all the stomach and shakiness problems.
    I’m not able to come to treatment anywhere,either financially or technically and health keeps getting worse.
    Any advice on what to do and how to approach this issue,at least with ozone?

    Any additional information or you require such as 3D xrays or regular ones,i can provide anytime.I hope you can help.

  4. Masumi
    5 years ago

    The topic of dental x-rays is always controversial, but I would like to make a couple points to consider:
    – A holistic dentist will determine a patient’s risk factor for decay. This will determine the protocols for home care as well as how often they need to check for decay with x-rays. If you are Low Risk (no decay in the last 36 months), you may not need x-rays every year. Dentistry should be individualized to each patient.
    – Just because you “feel fine”does not always indicate that everything is healthy, if a dentist can diagnose decay in its smaller “incipient” state, there is an opportunity for minimally invasive remineralization rather than a filling. Better to find it BEFORE it hurts.
    – A holistic dentist tries to limit the exposure of patients to dental x-rays while also balancing the need to diagnose conditions that are not visible in a clinical exam.
    – By focusing on preventive practices, nutrition, and home protocols, a holistic dentist hopes to bring patients into that “low risk” zone for both periodontal disease and cavities.

    (Having worked in holistic dentistry for many years, i note that sometimes patients who have repeatedly declined x-rays have had no pain or symptoms, but actually had problems brewing. By the time we were allowed to take x-rays, the problem was much bigger than it needed to be.)

  5. Frances
    6 years ago

    Be careful about “natural” toothpastes. Tom’s of Maine was bought out and now contains ingredients I don’t want to put into my mouth. Read the ingredients before buying. Lots of products that claim to be natural contain such ingredients. Nature’s Gate is a good toothpaste, contains no harmful ingredients. But do your due diligence and read labels!

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Good point. Thanks so much.

  6. Donna
    6 years ago

    What is the wholistic position on implants?

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      They can be a very good idea– because without them, the jaw bone to which the tooth is imbedded would begin to deteriorate. The act of chewing puts vectors of force on the jaw via the teeth– and a healthier jaw is the result.

  7. Marianne Wohl
    6 years ago

    The best way to find a holistic or biological dentist is at IAOMT.org. I just had three root canal teeth and three amalgam fillings removed by a biological dentist. Best thing I ever did for my mouth and my health! This is a great article because it provides crucial information that you might not get from a conventional dentist. I would like to recommend a fabulous book by Dr. Mark Breiner called Whole-Body Dentistry. I also follow Dr. Al Danenberg who is awesome. For great information about oral care, go to OraWellness.com.

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Terrific resources. Thanks so much!!!

  8. Michelyn Flynn
    6 years ago

    Thank You, Dr.Christiane, this is great information so I can find a Holistic Dentist.
    I have had many bad visits in a emergency situations , now I can find a good Dentist 🙂 <3

  9. Lori
    6 years ago

    Do you know of a holistic dentist in New York City?

    1. OraWellness
      6 years ago

      Aloha Lori,
      Dr. Martha Cortes DDS is in NYC. We highly recommend her!

      1. Christiane
        6 years ago

        Love it. Thank you!

  10. Malinda
    6 years ago

    Recently I found Dr. Alvin Danenberg DDS. ( CHECK out his blog: drdanenberg.com)

    As a retired dental hygienist I am extremely happy to be a patient in his practice. Check out his e-book on Amazon Kindle “Crazy Good Living”, soon to be released in traditional form. MINI-REVIEW: “In CRAZY-GOOD LIVING! Dr. Danenberg shows us that good oral health depends not just on brushing and flossing, but on the same things that determine our overall health—in particular, a nutrient-dense diet and healthy gut bacteria. This book is a must-read for anyone that wants to improve their dental or periodontal health.” – Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, Author, NY Times Bestseller, The Paleo Cure

    He uses nutrition as the first defense toward health. He is a wealth of information, a breath of fresh air to the dental community, and a doctor who takes the time needed to treat his patients. I am grateful to have found his practice.

  11. Anonymous
    6 years ago

    I have Hashimoto’s and was recently told by my DDS (works at a holistic office but come to find doesn’t have training as a holistic dentist) that I will need either need a root canal or extraction. This occured at the site where a tooth was extracted ( a different DDS (WITH holistic training) and then with a second attempt from her recommended oral surgeon) 2 years ago. The DDS put a cap over that tooth after I came in with serious pain several months ago. Because of my medical history I am very nervous as I wonder whether the tooth had been a inadvertent ly fractured by the one of dentist before and the reason I now have to undergo more procedures. I just want to ensure I am in good hands and not subject myself to a health setback/crisis.

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      There is an amazing dental clinic– with quite reasonable prices– at the Sanoviv Medical Center in Rosarita, Mexcio– just south of San Diego. Check it out http://www.sanoviv.com

  12. Prianca
    6 years ago

    Do you have any advice on how to find a holistic dentist in your city?

  13. Sarah
    6 years ago

    Love this article. I’m 46 and have algramam fillings
    The last year I developed muscle pains and some other issues
    I eat a clean diet . I think it’s time to remove these . Do you know a holistic dentist near New York ?

  14. Barbara Magro
    6 years ago

    I walked out of my dentists office because she insisted I needed X-rays for my biannual teeth cleaning as I had not had them for 13 months. I take care of my teeth. They feel fine. I don’t want X-rays. Where do I find a dentist who doesn’t insist every time I get my teeth cleaned and accepts insurance? Plus I HATE needles. I had a cavity 2 years ago and the needle was so long and squirted stuff I felt in my brain. It was horrible! Where can I find someone who uses gas or some other way to numb?

    1. Christiane
      6 years ago

      Check out all the links in the comments for finding a holistic dentist. And as far as dental xrays are concerned, I space them out to every 4 years or so!!

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