ADA/NDA Policy Statement on Unconventional Dentistry
Unconventional diagnostic and treatment approaches to oral health care have attracted interest among some patients and practitioners in recent years. These diagnostic and treatment approaches have been variously described as “alternative,” “holistic,” “integrative,” “biological,” “environmental” or “complementary,” although each term means something slightly different. For the purposes of this statement, “unconventional dentistry” is defined as encompassing scientifically unproven practices and products that do not to conform to generally accepted dental practices or “conventional” methods of evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of diseases, conditions and/or dysfunctions relating to the oral cavity and its associated structures.
Historically, dentistry has evolved as a strong and respected profession based on sound science, a moral commitment of service to the public, and an ethical obligation to protect the health of the patient. The ADA strongly supports this tradition of dentistry as a profession rooted in constantly evolving scientific information and an ethical duty to act for the benefit of others.
The dental community has always been open to emerging diagnostic and treatment approaches that over the years have improved the oral health of the public, the health of the dental team and the practice of dentistry. The ADA, consistent with its object to encourage the improvement of the health of the public and to promote the art and science of dentistry, supports those diagnostic and treatment approaches that allow both patient and dentist to make informed choices among safe and effective options. The provision of dental care should be based on sound scientific principles and demonstrated clinical safety and effectiveness.
With the explosion of unrefereed information about oral health issues made possible by the Internet, the Association believes that the need for systematic evaluation of diagnostic and treatment efficacy and safety to assist practitioners in responding to patient inquiries is greater than ever. The dental profession advocates an evidence-based approach to oral health care that requires the judicious integration of systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence, relating to the patient’s oral and medical condition and history, with the dentist’s clinical expertise and the patient’s treatment needs and preferences. The ADA supports the scientific exploration needed to discover new diagnostic and treatment approaches and techniques, and encourages advocates of unconventional dentistry to pursue scientifically valid, systematic assessment of diagnostic and treatment efficacy and safety.