We all know how important caring for our general health and our dental health is. We visit our general doctor for regular checkups, as well as our dentist for annual or semi-annual cleanings and visits. However, what we may not realize is how closely our dental health is related to our general health. Many physicians may not realize this fact either, and unfortunately, it is at no fault of their own.
Up until about 2008, most physicians who graduated did not receive much, if any, training on oral health. The more we know about how our dental health can affect our oral health, the more important it becomes for these two fields to be addressed in conjunction with one another. A few examples of how general health and dental health are related include:
Poor oral health increases the risk for stroke and heart attacks. Improving oral health will reduce inflammation in the oral tissues. and therefore, can reduce the risk of heart disease. Dentists can monitor inflammatory biomarkers to find if a patient is at an increased risk for heart disease.
Fertility and Pregnancy
Women who are trying to become pregnant can reduce their risk of having a baby with low birthweight and having a pre-term birth by seeing their dentist first and during the pregnancy. Studies have shown that having a lower microbial load will increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and newborn.
Dentists generally see their patients more frequently than general doctors do. This gives the dentist a unique opportunity to screen for cancer with the latest technologies. Dentists can detect oral cancers sooner, which increases the rate of survival.
Dentists can also work with doctors to help detect and treat patients with sleep apnea through the use of dental sleep appliances.
Patients with diabetes face many related complications. Studies have shown that advanced periodontal treatments can improve the overall health of people who have diabetes.
In addition, dentists can and should provide health coaching and tips to their patients. They can encourage their patients to stop tobacco use, decrease stress in their lives, as well as encourage healthy eating and self-care.
Barbara L. McClatchie, DDS knows how important it is to integrate medical and dental care, thanks to her extensive training at the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health. She uses the most innovative technologies, including the use of OralDNA saliva testing, to diagnose and treat oral and systemic health problems. She customizes her treatments to fit the unique health needs of each of her patients.