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Letter From Dear Doctor

Issue 39 of Dear Doctor Magazine

Taking Care of the Whole Patient

The term “holistic” elicits strong reactions when used in any health care field, including dentistry. In its truest sense, “holistic” dentistry means that the dentist looks at the whole person—body, mind and emotions—in the quest for optimal health and wellness. Holistic practitioners believe that the whole person is made up of many interdependent parts, and to be healthy, all the parts must work in harmony. What could be wrong with this? Nothing. Confusion arises because a word can have different meanings, and in popular use “holistic” is often equated with specific treatments that may or may not be considered accepted norms of care.

In truth, every dentist, for a very long time, has been trained to be a holistic dentist. Yet many dentists feel pressure to differentiate themselves to attract more patients—and advertising themselves as having a “holistic” practice has become one way of doing so. Unfortunately, a number of dentists who distinguish themselves this way reject evidence-based practices and embrace some unfounded ideas—for example, that root canals cause disease, that “all” silver fillings should be removed, or that x-rays should be avoided at all costs. But how many times has history shown that without scientific study, fashionable theories can turn out to be wrong?

Of course, the fields of medicine and dentistry are always changing in response to new discoveries, and we adopt new norms as we acquire new knowledge. Patients should be presented with treatment options that are based on the most up-to-date research findings from solid scientific studies. Because we feel strongly that an informed patient can make the best decisions about their own health care, Dear Doctor takes its role in patient education seriously, and we pride ourselves on publishing only what research supports as true.

I invite you to read my article on “Holistic Dentistry” that tackles some common “holistic” trends in dentistry. Also in this issue we confront the idea that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking, and we continue in our mission of equipping patients with practical knowledge, such as what to do if a tooth is knocked out, how to manage your risk factors for cavities, and how teeth can be replaced in stages with dental implants. We explore other dental issues as well, such as loose teeth and dry socket, and we present must-know information if you are considering orthodontic treatment.

As always, all our articles are authored by experts in various areas of dentistry—and all are selected with the goal of equipping you, our readers, to be better informed dental health care consumers.


Mario A.Vilardi, DMD

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