Integrative dentistry is a new phenomenon. Instead of focusing only on your plaque or toothache or gums, an integrative dentist pays attention to the big picture: What other health issues might relate to the state of your mouth? What chemicals are you absorbing while your teeth are being repaired? How's your mental state while you're sitting in the dental chair?
To ease patients' pain and fear, these dentists use complementary techniques such as meditation and massage. And they prefer using materials and procedures that do as little harm as possible to the earth and their patients; using composite fillings instead of mercury amalgam is one example. Integrative dentists also offer alternative remedies such as arnica for pain and inflammation of the mouth. By replacing X rays with more costly digital imaging, they expose the patient to 75 to 90 percent less radiation, get clearer views of the tooth, and eliminate the need for the chemicals used to process X rays.
If you wait awhile, integrative dentistry is likely to come to you. Until then, try taking dental health into your own hands by cultivating self-awareness: Approach your mouth with the same consciousness as your yoga practice. Floss regularly, use a soft toothbrush, and be attentive to your diet—avoid sticky, chewy, carb-rich foods.