But every so often I come across certain articles and opinions that truly test my resolve. The most recent was a piece that was written to promote the work of holistic dentists and, while I am fully supportive of any dental professional who strives to improve their patients’ general health through their work, I found the particular attitude on display in this piece both cynical and unwarranted.
Indeed, it is an attitude I am seeing more and more often in the alternative press – how holistic or homeopathic dentists are the only ones in the profession who truly treat their patients as a whole, not just a set of disembodied teeth.
Admittedly, when I’m working and the patient is dozing off in the chair and I’ve got my microscope on and all I can see is the canal, it’s easy to get a little bit lost in the treatment. Of course, I’ve never completely forgotten that there is a person attached to the tooth, but sometimes – and I am sure that many of you are exactly the same – I can become so absorbed in what I am doing that the tooth is all I see.
But beyond the treatment, this is by no means the case. Dentists in this country are part of a caring, protecting profession and we are all aware of the links between oral health and general health. We always discuss dietary habits with our patients, explain how stress and anxiety may manifest in dental conditions such as bruxism or TMJ disorders.
That holistic dentists would try to monopolise this aspect of the responsibility all dental practitioners have to their patients is simply a cynical marketing tactic – and it is fundamentally inaccurate.
What’s worse is the attitudes many alternative practitioners have to the materials and techniques the majority of modern professionals use on a daily basis. In particular, holistic dentistry attacks amalgams, portraying them as irredeemably toxic, or fluoridated water as an institutionalised evil.
This attitude is undermining the profession apart from the inside. As dentists, we already have to protect ourselves from the bad reputation external sources burden us with; to have to do the same from our own colleagues is a disaster. True, we should welcome diversity and forward thinking, but this can only happen without the need to scare the public or lambast each other.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999 or visit www.endocare.co.uk
Dr Michael Sultan BDS MSc DFO FICD is a Specialist in Endodontics and the Clinical Director of EndoCare. Michael qualified at Bristol University in 1986. He worked as a general dental practitioner for 5 years before commencing specialist studies at Guy’s hospital, London. He completed his MSc in Endodontics in 1993 and worked as an in-house Endodontist in various practices before setting up in Harley St, London in 2000. He was admitted onto the specialist register in Endodontics in 1999 and has lectured extensively to postgraduate dental groups as well as lecturing on Endodontic courses at Eastman CPD, University of London. He has been involved with numerous dental groups and has been chairman of the Alpha Omega dental fraternity. In 2008 he became clinical director of EndoCare, a group of specialist practices.