How Does Integrative Dentistry Differ from Traditional Dentistry?

Integrative dentistry is an approach to dental care that considers the whole person rather than focusing solely on treating isolated dental issues. It integrates traditional dental practices with complementary and alternative therapies and technology to promote overall health and well-being. Integrative dentistry also offers a holistic perspective on oral health, recognizing its deep interconnectedness with overall wellness. 

Traditional dentistry primarily focuses on diagnosing and treating dental diseases and conditions using conventional treatments including root canals, amalgam fillings, and dental prosthetics to restore oral health and function. Let us walk through the various ways an integrative approach to dentistry differs from traditional dentistry. 

Inflammation & Infection Management

One critical aspect of an integrative approach is managing inflammation and infection in the oral cavity. Dental caries represent the earliest of localized infections that can have systemic effects. More than 700 different bacterial species have been identified in the human oral cavity, with the majority of them being associated with dental plaque, causing caries and periodontitis. Meanwhile, hundreds of different types of “good” bacteria play a very important role in digestion, and in bolstering the immune system. We provide salivary testing to inform patients about the types of bacteria present in their mouths, empowering them to make informed decisions on their health. Identifying bacteria that are particularly associated with periodontal disease allows for early intervention, potentially saving patients time, money, and discomfort by preventing significant damage in the future.

The American Academy of Periodontology, alongside the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other reputable sources, highlight the significant correlation between periodontitis and systemic inflammation, as well as its association with various systemic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications/stillbirth, and pancreatic cancer. It’s noteworthy that systemic inflammation is also implicated in the development of high blood pressure, a condition affecting 1 in 3 American adults. Additionally, factors like poor diet and sleep apnea can further exacerbate inflammation.

The gut-mouth connection is profound as well, and our integrative, holistic approach to dentistry acknowledges this. We offer dietary consultations that focus not only on improving oral health but also on supporting gut health. For instance, we recommend probiotic-rich foods and prebiotics to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which can indirectly benefit oral health by reducing inflammation and supporting immune function. This can be particularly important for patients who may be healing from dental surgery or procedures. 

We encourage our patients to embrace a healthy lifestyle to minimize inflammation and infection, thereby enhancing both oral and overall health. The fundamentals of reducing inflammation in the body and leading a healthy lifestyle include: 

  • Consuming whole foods, prioritizing fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and limited whole grains, while also ensuring adequate intake of essential vitamins like A, D3, and K2 either through supplements or diet. 
  • Stress reduction is crucial, as it can trigger widespread inflammation, surpassing the harm of smoking or alcohol. 
  • Incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines is essential, as is minimizing exposure to toxins, particularly through processed foods laden with heavy metals, additives, and hormones. 
  • Quality sleep is also paramount for optimal health. 

Recognizing that the mouth serves as the gateway to the entire body underscores the importance of mindful consumption and awareness of what enters our bodies.

Airway, Breathing & Sleep Assessment

Integrative dentistry underscores the vital importance of assessing airway, breathing, and sleep quality in relation to both oral health and overall well-being. This specific type of dental care emphasizes identifying and addressing issues such as airway obstruction, mouth breathing, and improper tongue posture, which can significantly impact various aspects of health.

Several factors can compromise the airway, including narrow arches, deviated septum, trauma, nasal stenosis, turbinate hypertrophy from allergies, inflammation, infection, and sinusitis. It’s essential to recognize that the nose serves the purpose of breathing, while the mouth is primarily for eating. Breathing through the nose allows the lymphoid tissue of the adenoids and tonsils to act as secondary lines of defense against bacteria and viruses. Mouth breathing can lead to inadequate air filtration, increased inflammation, and congestion, as well as diminished release of nitric oxide, which impairs bacterial control and vasodilation.

Obvious signs of mouth breathing include:

  • Nasal congestion/Allergies/Poor asthma control
  • Noisy visible breathing
  • Snoring/night waking/night sweating 
  • Trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night 
  • Dry mouth/cracked lips
  • Periodontal disease/Dental decay
  • Bad breath
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Behavioral or memory issues – in children 
  • Forward head posture
  • Dental malocclusion

Additionally, snoring, often considered a mere nuisance, can actually indicate underlying breathing issues and may be a risk indicator for conditions like sleep apnea. Snoring is an alarm, telling you something is wrong with your breathing. But you are not alone; 44% of men and 28% of women have been reported as habitual snorers. Chronic disordered breathing can trigger a cascade of health problems, including elevated stress hormone levels, cardiovascular issues, mental health disorders, and reduced libido.

Snoring can result from various factors, including poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat, excessive bulkiness of throat tissue, elongated soft palate and/or uvula, obstructed nasal airway, tongue blockage, and narrow skeletal structure or arches. These factors can contribute to the vibration of tissues in the throat during sleep, leading to the characteristic sound of snoring.

In October 2017, the American Dental Association issued a policy urging dental professionals to screen patients for conditions like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), along with other breathing disorders. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial, especially considering the common occurrence of UARS and OSA in children, often misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Let’s trace the cascade that starts with disordered breathing, progresses to disrupted sleep patterns, and ultimately results in compromised health:

  • Reduced oxygen
  • O(2) Saturation decreased
  • Fight or flight response
  • Cortisol release 
  • Heart rate increase
  • Blood pressure increase
  • Stress hormone levels elevated 
  • Increased risk of diabetes and obesity 
  • Gastric reflux
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Poor mental sharpness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Reduce libido
  • Sleepiness
  • Dental wear due to bruxism/clenching
  • Headaches
  • Increased risk of congestive heart failure and heart attack/stroke organ failure/death

We offer comprehensive airway assessments that encompass at-home sleep testing to screen for conditions like OSA and UARS, radiology, myofunctional therapy analysis, TMJ evaluation, CBCT scans, and collaboration with sleep specialists to address sleep disorders. Personalized treatment plans may include orthodontic interventions, myofunctional therapy, and coordination with other healthcare providers to address underlying issues contributing to airway obstruction. By integrating these approaches, airway dentistry aims to improve patients’ breathing and sleeping patterns while optimizing both oral health and overall wellness.

TMJ & Occlusion Considerations

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and occlusal issues can have far-reaching effects on overall health. The earliest signs of a problem in the TMJ are often joint discomfort, popping/clicking/limited opening, muscle soreness, nerve pain, bruxism (grind or clenching), poor bite/malocclusion, worn teeth, tongue thrust, and crooked/crowded teeth. 

As form follows function, deformation follows dysfunction. A recent study reported that nearly 90% of patients presented with retruded mandibles are off the disk in one or both TM joints. A thorough evaluation of the complex masticatory system, including the temporomandibular joints, cervical region of the spine, airway and breathing is critical to derive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

In integrative dentistry, we employ a variety of techniques to address these concerns. The 4 treatment options for correcting an unstable occlusion are the 4 R’s:

  • Reshape: equalize the contact on each tooth in centric relation on the maximum number of teeth possible. 
  • Reposition Teeth: when it is impossible to achieve an ideal occlusion through reshaping teeth, the next most conservative option is orthodontics. Occlusal splints or Myoaligners can be used to change the occlusion and influence muscle activity. 
  • Restore Teeth: unstable occlusions, bruxism, gastric reflux, eating disorders, stress, and destructive habits result in significant destruction of teeth. 
  • Reposition Bone: in more severe cases, a surgical procedure on the mandible, maxilla or both may be necessary to move the jaw forward and reestablish anatomic and functional bite harmony. This will significantly increase airway volume in the back of the throat. 

We may also incorporate massage therapy to alleviate muscle tension and improve TMJ function. Additionally, we often recommend myofunctional therapy exercises to correct improper oral habits that contribute to occlusal problems, such as tongue thrusting or mouth breathing.

Holistic & Biological Approach

Holistic or biological dentistry, which is another key component of integrative care, takes into account the overall health and well-being of the patient while introducing natural and alternative treatments to address physical, emotional, and spiritual concerns. Our approach extends beyond individual treatments to encompass the entire patient experience. We often incorporate techniques that harness the body’s natural healing capabilities to promote oral health and well-being. 

Visiting a holistic or biological dentist can offer patients a range of benefits, including:

  • Minimally invasive treatment options that prioritize natural healing processes.
  • Reduced exposure to potentially harmful materials and chemicals used in traditional dental practices.
  • Personalized treatment plans tailored to individual needs and preferences.
  • Integration of alternative therapies such as ozone therapy, laser therapy, and safe amalgam removal.
  • Focus on preventive measures to maintain long-term oral health and prevent future issues.
  • Environmentally conscious practices that minimize waste and reduce environmental impact.
  • Consideration of the interconnectedness of oral health with overall physical and emotional well-being.

Our practice offers a variety of holistic treatments and services, ranging from everyday hygiene exams to major oral surgeries. One of our primary approaches is ozone therapy, which effectively disinfects and heals gum tissues by combating bacteria and reducing inflammation. This natural method promotes faster healing and often eliminates the need for invasive procedures.

Another advanced technology we utilize is Fotona Laser Technology, known for its precision and less invasive nature. This technology enhances sterilization and is employed in various dental procedures, including gum disease treatment, cavity detection, and teeth whitening. Patients often experience less discomfort and faster healing times with laser treatment compared to traditional methods.

For procedures like implant placement or full-mouth restoration, ensuring optimal healing is essential. We offer Zirconia Ceramic Implants, a metal-free and biocompatible option, along with complex bone grafting and PRF/PRP therapy to promote bone growth and recovery. PRF/PRP therapy accelerates tissue regeneration and healing, often supplemented by dietary support and other holistic measures.

In alignment with holistic principles, we prioritize the removal of amalgam fillings and their replacement with Composite Fillings. These tooth-colored fillings are biocompatible and blend seamlessly with natural teeth. Additionally, we are a non-fluoride office and do not perform root canals, recommending the removal of old root canals due to concerns about toxins in the body. Our commitment to patient safety is further demonstrated by our use of digital X-rays, which produce images quickly with significantly reduced radiation exposure compared to traditional film X-rays.


Finally, collaboration is the last ingredient to achieve optimal integrative dentistry. We work closely with other healthcare providers, including physicians, ENTs, orthodontists, cranial osteopaths, naturopaths, and holistic practitioners, ensuring our patients are able to achieve efficient and effective healing outcomes. This interdisciplinary approach allows for a more holistic and coordinated approach to patient care, ensuring that all aspects of health are considered in treatment planning. 

Overall, integrative dentistry emphasizes patient education, empowerment, and collaboration to promote optimal oral health and overall well-being. By taking a holistic approach that considers the interconnectedness of the body and mind, integrative dentistry aims to provide comprehensive care that supports the long-term health and wellness of patients.

At Reclaim Dentistry, our mission is to empower our patients to reclaim their health and vitality through transformative dentistry. We believe everyone deserves a smile they love, teeth that function properly and painlessly, and the ability to sleep and breathe naturally. 


Wilkerson, D.C. et al. (2019) The shift: The dramatic movement toward health centered dentistry. St. Petersburg, FL: Widiom Publishing llc. 

Schellhas KP, Piper MA, Bessette RW, Wilkes CH. Mandibular retrusion, temporomandibular joint derangement, and orthognathic surgery planning. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1992 Aug;90(2):218-29; discussion 230-2. PMID: 1631214.