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Section Questions and Answers

Alternative Dentistry

  1. What is alternative dentistry?
  2. What does "holistic" mean in practice?
  3. Which alternative therapies and remedies are there in dentistry?
  4. What is acupuncture, and how is it used?
  5. How is hypnosis used in dentistry?
  6. What is homeopathy, and how is it used in dentistry?
  7. What herbal, drug-free remedies are there for pain, infection and fever?
  8. Which oral problems can be treated with drug-free, natural remedies?
  9. What are the natural toothpastes and mouthwashes?
  10. What does alternative dentistry think about fluoride?
  11. What is the alternative view of amalgam fillings?
  12. Are conventional and alternative dentistry worlds apart?

 
1. What is alternative dentistry?

  • This approach to dentistry is based on holistic principles, and the therapies described below.

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2. What does "holistic" mean in practice?

  • Holistic dentists believe that the general health of the mouth is not separate from the general health of the person.
    • The physical and mental state of the person will affect dental health, and vice versa.
    • It recognises that dental disease may be a cause or a result of other ailments.
    • Diet is very important to oral health.
    • Nutritional healing and diet control are important in the holistic approach to healing.
    • Nutritional healing is based on the use of vitamins, minerals, herbs and food supplements.

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3. Which alternative therapies are there in dentistry?

  • Alternative dentistry makes use of the following therapies in addition to the regular dental procedures:
    • Acupuncture
    • Hypnosis
    • Homeopathy
    • Herbal and drug free remedies
    • Natural Dental Toothpastes and Mouthrinses

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4. What is acupuncture, and how is it used?

  • During acupuncture treatment, thin needles are inserted at specific places in the body.
  • Acupuncture is thought to stimulate the production of endorphins.
  • Endorphins are the substances that the human body produces to reduce or prevent the feeling of pain.
  • The treatment is quite painless and has no known side effects.
  • It is claimed that acupuncture aids conventional dental therapy by:
    • reducing the degree of post operative pain.
    • suppressing the gagging reflex.
    • helping with stress and post-operative anxiety.
    • lessening facial or jaw joint pain.

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5. How is hypnosis used in dentistry?

  • Hypnosis is a well tried and tested therapy that blanks out the mind and allows dental treatments to be carried out. This is what it is about:
    • Hypnosis creates a state of deep relaxation and concentration.
    • The patient responds to the calm repetition of well chosen suggestions.
    • These suggestions enable the patient to block out the feeling of pain.
    • Dental procedures can be carried out without the use of an anaesthetic while the patient is hypnotised. There will be no memory of the dental treatment carried out under hypnosis.
    • The patient can wake up after the treatment feeling relaxed and comfortable.
    • Post hypnotic suggestion is made while the patient is hypnotised. As a result, hypnosis can be used to control pain in dentistry, and to reduce the patient's anxiety and fear of dental treatment. Suggestions that are made to hypnotised patients can influence their thinking and behaviour afterwards.
    • Only dentists who are qualified in hypnotherapy will use hypnosis.

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6. What is homeopathy, and how is it used in dentistry?

  • Homeopathy is a therapeutic method that applies the Law of Similars.
  • The Law of Similars states that a remedy that is effective in dealing with one specific illness, can be effective for other illnesses, provided that the symptoms are similar.
  • Homeopathy uses medical substances in weak or infinitesimal (tiny) doses.
    • This stimulates the body to harness its own inherent healing powers to initiate the healing process.
    • This is also the conventional method used to create vaccines in medicine.
  • Homeopathic medicines are usually produced in strictly controlled laboratories, and are thought to be reliable.
  • Some medical doctors practice homeopathy as part of their regular medicine.
  • Homeopathic dental practice appears to be on the increase.
  • Examples of the use of homeopathy in dentistry:
    • Preparation of patients in advance of dental treatment by using herbal remedies to reduce oral inflammaton.
    • Provision of pain relief
    • Treatment of minor mouth injuries and infections like oral herpes.
    • Management of anxiety and fear
    • Aiding healing, with substances like arnica.

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7. What herbal, drug-free remedies are there for pain, infection and fever?

  • The substances and the properties claimed for them are:
Aloe vera Astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral.
Black walnut Aids the healing of mouth sores.
Calendula Anti-inflammatory and lessens fever.
Chamomile Anti-inflammatory, analgesic.
Clover Antiseptic, topical analgesic for mouth pain.
Echinacea Anti-inflammatory, antiviral.
Eucalyptus Antiseptic.
Goldenseal Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial.
Grapefruit seedAntiseptic, antibacterial.
Horse chestnut Soothing of gums.
Indian pennywortAstringent.
Lysine Antiviral.
Parsley Breath freshener.
Peppermint Flavour.
Tea tree oil Antibacterial, antifungal.
Willow bark Anti-inflammatory, analgesic.
Wintergreen Analgesic, anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin K Promotes healthy teeth.

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8. Which oral problems can be treated with drug-free, natural remedies?

  • Canker sores or apthous ulcers
    • These are painful ulcers in the mouth that persist for up to twenty days. They are not fever blisters.
    • Tea-tree oil is recommended for this condition.
      It may be applied to the sores three times a day.
    • Tea-tree oil mouthrinses are also considered helpful.
      A drop or two of tea tree oil may be added to toothpaste before brushing.
    • Red rasberry tea, which contains flavenoids, can also be an effective treatment for canker sores.
  • Cold sores or fever blisters
    • These blisters may be present without a fever.
    • Lysine can be applied to the sores.
    • Lysine ointment contains all natural ingredients, such as lysine, vitamins A, D and E in olive oil, yellow beeswax, goldenseal extract, propolis extract, calendula extract, echinacea extract, zinc oxide, cajeput oil, tea tree oil, honey etc.
  • Pain and pain relievers
    • It is claimed that many natural preparations relive pain.
    • Pain can be controlled by a natural homeopathic pain reliever containing chamomile, white willow, blue flag, butternut, blood root, nightshade, sodium sulphate, nickel, lungwort, lactose.
    • There is also another natural pain reliever with herbal extracts of California poppy, corydalis, red peony, meadowsweet, Jamaican dogwood, and kava kava. It also contains magnesium and manganese.
      Other listed ingredients are:
      Stearic acid, cellulose gum, silica, ethylcellulose. The coating is vegetable food glaze.

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9. What are the natural toothpastes and mouthwashes?

  • There are many toothpastes and herbal mouthwashes which contain natural ingredients.
  • Most of these toothpastes claim to be natural toothpastes.
  • They contain no harsh abrasives, synthetic sweeteners or artificial flavours or colourings.
  • Toothpastes specifically describing themselves as "Fluoride Free" are available, while others do contain fluoride.
  • There are special toothpastes for baby teeth.
  • Some common natural ingredients in natural dental products are:
    Tea tree oil, baking soda, wintergreen, aloe vera and echinacea.

    Examples of natural toothpastes and mouthwashes are listed below without disclosing the names of the products.

    Special natural toothpastes
  • Toothpaste for vegetarians or vegans
    • A natural toothpaste with mint and lemon that contains no animal products is available.
      The ingredients include chalk, glycerine, silica, palm oil, peppermint, lemons, fennel, calcium fluoride.
  • A natural toothpaste alternative without fluoride
    • A natural toothpaste gel is offered as a natural alternative to fluoride toothpaste.
      It includes calcium carrot powder, vitamin C, natural cherry flavour, extract of coconut oil, annatto, carmine, cellulose gum, methylparaben, goldenseal, vegetable glycerine, silica and hydrogenated starch.
  • A pure herbal Ayurvedic toothpaste from India
    • It is made from herbs, barks, roots and flowers. The ingredients are:
      Chalk, water, sorbitol, sodium laurel sulphate, gum tragacanth, extracts of Indian licorice root, Indian almond, common jujube, currant, sarsaparilla, cinnamon, sappan wood, Persian walnut, rose apple, medlar, barleria prinoitis, prickly ash, Asian holly oak, bedda nut, Bengal madder, bishops weed, catechu, mayweed, geranium, menthol, oils of clove, eucalyptus and peppermint.

  • Special natural mouthrinses
    Two natural mouthrinses are detailed:
    • A Natural Mouthrinse that has a minty flavour and contains:
      Spring water, echinacea, goldenseal, calendula, aloe, bloodroot, grapefruit seed extract, essential oils for flavouring, and citric acid.
    • An Aloe Vera Natural Mouthrinse is available that contains:
      Aloe Vera for its soothing action.
      Vitamin K for strong healthy teeth.
      Grapefruit seed extract for its antiseptic and antibacterial action.
      Horse chestnut for healthy gums. It also has a soothing effect.
      Tee tree oil for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
      Indian pennywort is an astringent for healthy gums.
      Peppermint oil for its natural flavour.
      Menthol is also included for its natural flavour.

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10. What does alternative dentistry think of fluoride?

  • Some alternative practitioners agree that fluoride in toothpaste can strengthen dental enamel and reduce tooth decay.
  • Others believe that fluoride is toxic and should be avoided.
  • Some alternative dentists are opposed to fluoridation of water supplies.
  • Part of the "Whole Person" philosophy is the belief that the patient should be able to make an informed choice about his or her treatment.

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11. What is the alternative view of amalgam fillings?

  • Alternative dentists do not use amalgam fillings.
    • Tooth restorations containing mercury are considered to cause health problems, because of the electromagnetic and toxic effects of mercury.
    • Some prefer to remove old amalgam fillings, and to replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
    • This is sometimes followed by a detoxification process, to purify the body of the effects of amalgam.

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12. Are conventional and alternative dentistry worlds apart?

  • Not really, there are many points of agreement.
  • Both schools of thought agree on the best way to prevent dental disease:
    • Brushing twice a day, and flossing at least once a day.
    • Regular dental check-ups.
    • A low sugar diet.
  • Despite some disagreement within the alternative camp, the effectiveness of fluoride in combating tooth decay and gum disease is widely acknowledged.

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