I try to read extensively on many different topics to look for new ways I can care for patients who come to me asking for help – I always try to be open minded about the development of our profession.
The most recent piece was written to promote the work of holistic dentists. This truly tested my resolve, while I am fully supportive of any dental professional who strives to improve their patients’ general health through their work; I found the particular attitude on display in this piece both cynical and unwarranted.
Holistic or homeopathic dentists apparently are the only ones in the profession who truly treat their patients as a whole, not just a set of disembodied teeth – this is an attitude I am seeing more and more often in the alternative press.
Scenario: The patients dozing off in the chair, I’ve got my microscope on and all I can see is the canal. Admittedly it’s easy to get a little bit lost in the treatment. Of course, I’ve never completely forgotten that there is a person attached to the tooth, but sometimes – and I’m sure that many of you are exactly the same – I can become so engrossed in what I’m doing that the tooth is all I see.
But beyond the treatment, this is by no means the case. We always discuss dietary habits with our patients; explain how stress and anxiety may manifest in dental conditions such as bruxism or TMJ disorders. Dentists in this country are part of a caring, protecting profession and we are all aware of the links between oral and general health.
Fundamental inaccuracy of the responsibility all dental practitioners have to their patients is simply a cynical marketing tactic by holistic dentists who would try to monopolise this.
What’s worse is the attitudes many alternative practitioners have to materials and techniques the majority of modern professionals use on a daily basis. In particular, holistic dentistry attacks amalgams, portraying them as irredeemably toxic, or fluoridated water as an institutionalised evil.
This attitude is undermining the profession apart from the inside. As dentists, we already have to protect ourselves from the bad reputation external sources burden us with; to have to do the same from our own colleagues is a disaster.
Dr. Michael Sultan.