What the Tooth Fairy Didn't Tell You
The Wise Consumer's Guide To Dentistry in the Big Apple
By Dr. Michael J Goldberg, D.M.D. and Charles Martin, D.D.S.
Copyright © 2011 by Barber Cosby
All the proceeds from the sale of this book go to Dental Volunteers for Israel, a free children's dental clinic in Jerusalem that treats children of all ethnicities and religions. DVI is staffed by volunteer dentists from 34 countries. Dr. Goldberg is the president of American Friends of Dental Volunteers for Israel.
Chapter 4: The Mouth Body Connection
The fact that the health of your mouth affects your body should not come as a shock. The fact that dentists are trained in separate professional schools than physicians and other health care providers means nothing other than dentistry is a specialty of health care.
So, why is there a disconnect?
Why do people have the idea that dentistry doesn't have an effect on their overall health?
Well, I think it's for a number of reasons.
Number one is our medical brethren, particularly physicians, who are not taught that the mouth has much to do with the work they do. In fact, they're taught almost next to nothing about teeth, gum disease and dental health. They look past the teeth. For many, the body starts at the throat.
The doctors with the fullest understanding are the physicians who are attuned to the interaction between oral health and total body health. Many cardiologists have come to realize that dental disease has a direct effect on the heart and advise their patients accordingly. "Get your teeth fixed and keep them that way," can become life –saving for the heart patient or those who have suffered strokes.
Some endocrinologists now understand that diabetes and dentistry are intimately connected. What makes dental health worse will make diabetes worse, and what makes diabetes worse will make dental health worse. Likewise, improving your dental health makes it easier to control your diabetes.
Some orthopedists require their patients to get a clean bill of dental health before they will do significant bone/joint surgery. They learned that lesson the hard way. Poor dental heath with active disease was traced back as a primary reason that some orthopedic surgeries failed.
The second reason for the disconnect is the media. Television, newspapers, magazines, and books largely ignore dentistry as part of the prescription for health. I don't think it's the right idea. I don't know why it's there. I attribute it to physicians' roles of sole arbiters of health in our society.
There's this sort of weird disbelief that people have about the connection between their mouth and their health. But with what we know now, this connection of the oral health with the total body health has never been as clear.
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