Conventional sports dentistry focuses on treating and preventing athletic injuries to the face and teeth. This focus tends to be somewhat limited. Holistic sports dentistry goes beyond preventing and treating injury and focuses on the impact that dental procedures and materials can have on the athlete’s overall well-being.
Holistic dentistry is an approach that considers many different factors when deciding on a course of action. Holistic dentists are focused on overall health that acknowledges a connection between oral and overall health. The connection is significant because oral health has a direct influence on overall health. Diagnosis and appropriate corrective treatment is vital not only to the health of the teeth but also to the health of the body.
A holistic sports dentist evaluates jawbone and bite imbalances, as these can influence the entire skeleton. Holistic dentists are also aware of possible toxic effects of some more commonly used dental materials, including mercury from silver amalgam fillings, fluoride, root canals, periodontitis, and cavities.
When injuries are severe, treatment options may include root canals, crowns, implants, or bonding. A holistic sports dentist seeks to minimize any negative impact on the body that can result from common materials and procedures. Holistic dentistry follows ancient Chinese medicine and holds that each tooth is located along pathways known as ‘meridians’. Holistic dentists consider what influence a treatment may have on other systems located on a given meridian.
Besides sports related injuries to teeth, sports dentists are also concerned with consumption of high sugar sports drinks, tobacco, and anorexia and bulimia. All of these are common in athletes and can be detrimental to the teeth.
Proper diagnosis and treatment of these issues cannot only improve an athletes oral health, it can also improve strength, balance, coordination, anxiety, and recovery from injuries.
Preseason exams can help prevent injury. Exams should include medical history, risk conditions, jar relationships, loose teeth, previous restoration work, and the possible need of wisdom tooth extraction. Extractions and other treatments should be done well before the season begins to allow time for healing. Failure to do so could increase risk of jaw fracture. Custom mouthguards may be made during this exam.
Recent research shows more and more that conditions affecting dental health have a direct influence on overall health. Comprehensive strategies offer the best solutions for improving health of mind and body, which is important for any athlete to meet his or her potential both on the field and off.