If you’re like most people, you’ve at least partly internalized the “expert view” that divorces your teeth from your body, acting as though they have nothing to do with each other. You don’t have to justify the split.
After all, the body is an incredibly complex organism. And it’s because of this complexity that the traditional approach toward health maintenance has largely been to “divide and conquer.”
When in need, you turn to experts who will address the body part you’re concerned about. You’ve come to expect them to stick to the immediate issue, not how it might relate to your oral or overall health.
So it was refreshing to see a new BDJ study point to the elephant in the room: “Are lower average oral health scores observed for those patients who report problems with general health and high risk lifestyle factors?”
Analyzing data from more than 37,000 individuals who both saw a dentist and completed a self-assessment questionnaire, its authors found that those who reported systemic health issues and risk factors tended to have worse oral health, too.
The very fact that patients were asked questions on risk factors such as diabetes status, tobacco use and alcohol consumption in association with a dental examination provided an important prompt for them to wonder why. Is there a connection? What is the connection?
This study also highlights the unique position your dentist is in to help not only your oral health, but your overall health and wellbeing, too. It shows the power of something as simple as your dentist talking with you about your health more comprehensively – something that’s the norm in a biological dental practice, where you are recognized as the driver at the wheel of health.
Questions Invite Reflection
Critical to positive results are honest answers to questions such as Do you have diabetes? Use tobacco? Drink alcohol? How often do you exercise? When questions are followed up with a dental exam that finds gum disease, say, or a few cavities, you might begin to wonder how this might result from your lifestyle habits or current state of health.
For you, this process sets the stage for an increased level of self-awareness – the foundational link for an intuitive connection between habits and consequences. This awareness may help you begin to change habitual patterns that are dragging down your health.
And for the dentist seeing you, your accurate assessment could provide an early warning to potential health issues down the road. This can open up a channel of meaningful conversation between you and your dentist that may result in better health for you.
Your honest self-assessment and your dentist’s exam can provide concrete steps for getting from where you are to the health goals you set for yourself. The end result not only offers you better outcomes, but helps you marry your teeth to the rest of your body once again.
Image by Alex Chaffee