What is Holistic Dentistry?
The word Holistic means so many different things to different people.
“I have always felt that it is important to work in a holistic way with each patient, rather than solely treating their teeth” says Dr Hitesh Batavia of Ravenscourt Dental Practice:
• A 360 degree view - establishing an understanding of each patient’s lifestyle, diet, general health and concerns;
• How a Holistic Dentist can help with Amalgam removal – procedures & safety, the technical aspects of treatment, achieving clinical results the patient wants, the importance of keeping patients fully informed, working in partnership with complementary health practitioners to ensure the patient is fully supported nutritionally;
• Preventative techniques to help people improve and maintain their general & oral health, to minimise the need for further invasive dental procedures. It certainly pays to prevent dental problems - over a lifetime, less trips to the dentist means less invasive procedures, less pain, less stress and much, much less cost;
• Partnerships – By working holistically we are able to help with any long-standing issues by encouraging and guiding patients to seek help elsewhere – including naturopathy, dietary advice, relaxation techniques & osteopathy.
Why do people choose Holistic dentistry?
Safe Amalgam removal
One of the major reasons why people choose us, is for the safe removal and replacement of Amalgam fillings. We follow a special protocol to minimise any impact on the body.
The use of amalgam and substances like fluoride in dentistry are discussed with each individual patient to determine the right approach for each patient.
The second largest group comprises of people who are very anxious or nervous about seeing the dentist! They usually all have the same issue - they have not been to a dentist for a very long time – often many years!
By the time they pluck up the courage to see us, they are tend to be suffering from long standing dental and jaw problems. So it is vital we help them, and we can only do this once we have calmed their anxiety and established trust. This is one of the situations where homeopathic remedies are useful as an adjunct to normal dentistry – along with relaxation aids, they help nervous patients undergo treatment.
Thirdly, there are the main general dentistry needs most people have: Dental Decay, Gum Problems & Tooth Wear. A holistic approach can help with all general dental concerns.
A lot of our work is focused on sharing ideas and resources with them on how to prevent these problems - ranging from oral hygiene techniques and information to an appropriate referral. We have a network of recommended and trusted complementary health practitioners, and working in a holistic way allows us to have a bespoke approach to each patient.
Lastly, a practice that offers access to a range of specialist and advanced treatments under one roof means patients have seamless continuity of care. For example if someone needs braces, to help with their aesthetic and functional needs, the benefit is that this fits holistically into their treatment plan. Another example is our specialist in Gum Disease, who saves teeth with minimally invasive procedures.
The patient comes first and then their dental health and teeth!
We are not just technicians. It is really all about ensuring dental stability – by putting patients in charge of their dental health.
Why use these methods? How does Holistic dentistry help?
Dr Batavia shares how in his view holistic dentistry helps people “In my experience people feel nervous if they don‘t fully understand what is happening or why. In the same way if patients don’t fully grasp the benefits and consequences of any treatment they will not feel in control of their health. Information puts patients in charge, they can then make the right decision for them.”
He continues “It would be so easy to say you need 2 fillings and we can book you in to get them done. However, this does not address the bigger picture or the short, medium or long term goals someone may have regarding their health and wellbeing.”
We prefer to use what we call “Co-diagnosis and Co-treatment planning” rather than simply telling the patient what is needed and how and when it will be done.
By discussing the findings and options available with the patient, exploring the pros and cons and making time to answer their questions, we help them to make the right decision. An additional benefit of this way of working is that when we draw conclusions we are also taking into account any other potential problems they may experience in the future.
This results in a tailored service, with an actively engaged patient in control and fully informed at every stage.
After treatment there is always the maintenance phase – once again the patient is in the driving seat - when we reinforce areas they need to keep an eye on and oral hygiene techniques they need to use.
Dr Batavia concludes “All the added value – such as referrals to complementary health practitioners and information resources –result in so much more than just having a few dental problems being addressed until the next time they experience dental pain.”
“As for all the fact finding, well it helps in so many unforeseen ways. For example, we can give them breaks if the treatment is a long session – this particularly benefits someone who is nervous about seeing the dentist and goes a long way to ensuring their treatment is carried out successfully.”
How effective is the holistic approach?
Dr Batavia’s view is that “This approach has been extremely effective for patients over the last 20 years since I established Ravenscourt Practice and my holistic methods. Over the years it has resulted in patients achieving better outcomes and a whole lot more”.
“As long as a patient feels they have learnt something, they can care better for their teeth, and work towards their own goals”.
It is self motivating rather than “the dentist told me so!
Why is it important to understand people’s lifestyles?
Everyone is juggling multiple tasks and a busy schedule giving rise to stress and sometimes this can lead to clenching and grinding.
Once we have helped them with the resulting tooth wear and jaw problems, it is just as important to explore other ways of controlling the cause of this problem – the stress - with auto suggestion, auto genetic training, yoga or tai chi to mention a few.
Finding out where their interests lie and encouraging them to use these to alleviate stress also helps. In fact, many of our patients are already seeing a complementary therapist.
Holistic dentistry opens up so many possibilities, whereas only treating people’s teeth is all about the limitations of what you think you can do as a dentist.
Why I was interested in Holistic dentistry and how I developed myself
In the early years of my career, I attended numerous clinical courses as part of my continuous professional development. However I was always very aware that as a profession we often forget there is a person at the other end of the process.
I then attended a talk on Homeopathic dentistry, and I came away thrilled.
We are not all the same, and have different needs and priorities, so as a dentist my job is to help with dental needs and in a way that suits the individual patient’s lifestyle and habits.
I will be giving a presentation on Holistic Dentistry on Friday 15 July at the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A video of the presentation will be available on our website if you are interested in this subject.
To find out more about how holistic dentistry can help you and your clients call us on 020 8748 4023, email [email protected]