How to Know if a Dentist is Holistic

The search term “holistic” is now much more commonplace and mainstream than it used to be. Among other issues, the concerns of mercury amalgam fillings are becoming more widely understood and accepted (even in non-holistic circles), even more so since last September’s FDA Mercury Amalgam Filling Warning.  An increasing number of dental offices are branding themselves as “Holistic” to capture attention and attract this ever-growing segment of the population. Finding a good dentist who is truly holistic can be complex and confusing.  Many well-meaning dentists are of the belief that “holistic” simply means the understanding that there is an oral-systemic link; that the health of our mouths is tied directly to our systemic health.  The oral-systemic link is widely accepted by holistic and non-holistic dentists alike; this link is a very important concept for us all to grasp. In dental school, we are all taught that there is an oral-systemic connection. By that definition, all dentists would be considered holistic, right? And yet we know this is not the case. So how do you know if your dentist truly is holistic? Below is a patient’s guide to knowing if your dentist Is, in fact, a holistic practitioner (or at least working to practice in this way).

It is important to remember these are general guidelines, there is nuance to this and not every dentist is going to fit neatly into one category, but these should help to give you a good idea.

1. Are they a member of the IAOMT (the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology)? This is a first step and a critical piece of information for those seeking a holistic dental office, because it will inform how your dentist thinks about the care, they are providing to you, the patient.

Look for this logo when searching for a holistic dentist.

2.  You can check and see if they are listed as a practitioner in the IAOMT directory. This would indicate a range of involvement from a standard membership, to SMART certification, to Accreditation and Fellowship.  

3. Third, ask them what their views of mercury fillings are.  Many dentists no longer place mercury amalgam fillings, and the numbers of mercury fillings placed inpatients’ mouths has decreased year after year. Speaking from the perspective of a dentist myself, the reasons for this are more often practical rather than philosophical; many dentists do not keep amalgam in their office since most patients these days do not want them for various reasons. It is vital to know why they no longer place them.  Finally, you want to know if they are SMART certified to remove mercury amalgam fillings safely, thereby ensuring that there will be zero mercury exposure during removal to either the patient, doctor, dental team, or the environment.

Look for this logo when searching for a SMART certified dentist

4. The first three questions will get you 95 percent of the way to knowing if your dentist is truly holistic (or at least trying). If you want to dive deeper into this topic, you can visit, familiarize yourself with other topics, and discuss them with your prospective dentist.

This post was written in response to numerous requests by my colleagues and friends, not only in the dental field but in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, wellness, and nutrition.  If you have further questions or would like to set up a consult, give us a call at 919.753.1280. You can also schedule online through our website,

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