History of Holistic Dentistry
By Anna Bird
When and how did holistic dentistry come about? Holistic dentistry has not been around as long as traditional dentistry, but it has progressed over the years to give patients and the dentist office staff safe, alternative dental treatments and safer dental office environments to work in.
The central issue in dentistry that sparked the movement that evolved into holistic dentistry, and which is still a main tenant of holistic dentistry was amalgam fillings.
The Introduction of Amalgam Fillings
The first amalgam fillings were used in 1819 in England. By 1830, they were widely used and approved by the American Society of Dental Surgeons (ASDS). In the years following the common use of them, research and experiments done by various individuals were conducted, connecting this with mercury toxicity, the occurrence of SIDs in babies of women who had this procedure, and the leakage of mercury from the fillings into the intestines, kidneys, liver and pituitary gland.
In the late 1930s, there were studies done that yielded the connection between the risk and occurrence of disease and nutrition. In 1987, an experiment was conducted that resulted in the correlation between the use of amalgam fillings and the large amount of mercury particles found inside the pituitary glands of dentists and their staff.
In the 1840s, the American Society of Dental Surgeons reversed their support on amalgam fillings amidst growing research supporting the dangers of mercury in amalgam fillings. This led to a division within the ASDS as some pro-amalgam dentists break off to create the American Dental Association (ADA). Over the next 10 years, the ADA grew in popularity while the ASDS lost its members in droves, and ultimately disbanding. They are still popular today because of the metal’s ease of use, availability and affordability.
Holistic Dentistry Comes Alive and Faces Backlash
The field of holistic dentistry wasn’t fully recognized until the Holistic Dental Association was established in 1978. A few years later in 1983, the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) was founded to educate the public about the dangers of fluoride and these kinds of fillings.
Despite these setbacks, the 1990s and 2000s saw a series of breakthroughs of holistic dentistry including the ban of amalgam fillings in Sweden in 1994, and a 2015 lawsuit filed by the IAOMT against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the allowance of amalgam fillings with their known health risks.
Today, while there are many advances in holistic dentistry and in traditional dentistry, the use of amalgam fillings and fluoride continue to be heated topics.
Holistic dentistry has come a long way since the 1970s, though it hasn’t been a smooth ride and in some ways still sees some pushback from traditional dentists. More and more patients, however, are realizing the potential dangers of traditional dental treatments to their oral health, opting instead to visit a holistic dentist instead.
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