It's no secret that oral health is connected to a patient's total body wellness, a fact that most dentists consider when treating their patients. But an emerging branch of dentistry called holistic dentistry focuses specifically on this connection and is rising in popularity. Also known as biological dentistry, green dentistry, or natural dentistry, many patients are drawn to these practitioners due to the appeal of more "natural" therapies and a whole body, root cause approach to their dental care. Although many alternative medicine treatments and modalities aren't research-backed, their popularity remains, and it is worth investigating why. The uptick in holistic dental practices is in line with the growing popularity of alternative medicine as a whole in the US. While you may not be interested in changing the scope, philosophy, or treatment methods of your practice, learning why patients are drawn to holistic dentists and incorporating some of their methods into your practice may have benefits for both your patients and your business.
- Making the most of one-on-one time
Patients don't like feeling like a number. Because many holistic dental practices are niche and, therefore, smaller, patients may get to spend more one-on-one time with their dentist. This is a significant benefit to the holistic model of care. Even if you cannot facilitate more time with each and every patient in your busy practice, you can focus on making the time you do have available with your patients count. Prioritize forming personal connections and give your patients your undivided attention. Demonstrate compassion and empathy, cultivate a sense of trust, and always ask if you can answer any questions. Brushing up on your communication skills is never a bad idea.
- Fear mitigation
Everyone knows that patient fear and anxiety can be significant hurdles to overcome in the dental field. Dentistry of decades past has conditioned many patients to fear their office visits, and that isn't always an easy cycle to break. Holistic dentists offer alternative medicine treatments that seem gentler and less frightening to patients than traditional treatments with loud tools and associations with pain. While you likely won't be introducing alternative medicine into your dental practice in place of fillings or root canals, you can focus on mitigating the fear that drives patients to alternative practices in the first place. Educating patients on the reality of gentle, modern dentistry, offering empathy and emotional support, and cultivating a relaxing office environment can go a long way in helping patients feel at ease.
- Nutrition and lifestyle advice
Holistic dentists take special care to counsel patients on nutrition and lifestyle advice to enhance their oral health. This is an area that every type of dentist can highlight. Patient education can equip your patients with the tools they need to prevent the pain or issues that might have landed them in your chair in the first place. We know oral health can have major implications for total body health, comfort, and happiness. However, our patients might not always make the connection between their habits and the consequences they might bring. Whether or not you decide to dig deeper into your patient's health histories, approaching their dental care through the lens of total body health can help them feel like they are receiving more individualized care.
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