What Does Holistic Mean?

If you go to the dictionary, the word holistic is defined as “is relating to the idea that things should be studied as a whole and not just as a sum of their parts”.
Over time and especially in recent years the term holistic, when used about medicine, tends to colloquially reference alternative and complimentary therapies. Whilst I strongly believe these should not be ignored and if patients feel a benefit and that they stick to one of the basic medical tenets of “first do no harm” I am very happy to explore alternatives to traditional medicine. As clinicians, we should be seeking to go by the route that is best for the patient, use pharmaceuticals and antibiotics only where strictly necessary and reduce surgical interventions that carry risk as far as reasonably possible.
 
However, in my opinion, there are times when they absolutely should not replace traditional methods of care or give false hope of a miracle cure when it is quite obvious that an evidence based medical or surgical approach is the correct course of action in that particular patient journey.
 
So, when we say we look at patients “holistically” it means we don’t just see a tooth or a mouth or some bleeding gums we are treating a patient. The foundation of our practice is understanding what we call oral-systemic links. Put simply conditions in your mouth such as gum disease can interact negatively with many major systemic problems such as diabetes, heart disease stroke risk and a lot lot more. Therefore, by making you r orally healthy, we are contributing to your overall health, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it? And it’s 100% holistic.