In recent years, there has been a shift in how dental care and oral health is approached. The belief that the mouth and body are symbiotic partners has begun to shape how many dental professionals recommend dental care for their patients, leading to terms like “oral-systemic connection” and “total body wellness” to become common descriptions for dental services. However, what do these terms actually mean? Furthermore, how does this new approach to dentistry affect the long-term oral and overall health of patients?
What is the Oral-Systemic Connection?
According to the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, the oral systemic connection refers to the relationship between oral health and overall health, where the health of one component influences the health of the other. As a result, dental treatment plans must also account for their long-term impact on the patient’s overall health. This relationship is supported by numerous studies that have demonstrated the existence of a link between poor oral health and overall health conditions.
Often the oral-systemic connection is referenced when highlighting the long-term consequences of periodontal disease. However, other dental conditions such as abscessed teeth, bite misalignment, and even sleep disorders can have long-term consequences for a patient’s overall health. For example, the bacteria that cause abscessed teeth can spread to the blood stream, leading to sepsis and organ failure. In another example, sleep disorders that are caused by the physical obstruction of airways can cause hypertension, heart failure, and even heart attacks. Even with just these few examples, it becomes clear that dental care is most effective when treatment plans are developed to meet each patient’s unique, total body needs.
Achieving Total Body Wellness
Accounting for the oral-systemic connection is a crucial component of achieving total body wellness through dental care. Often, dentists are able to identify potential dental issues earlier than doctors, as patients may only visit their general physician when feeling sick. By utilizing advanced tests in conjunction with visual examinations and imaging, dentists are able to identify potential problems early and recommend the appropriate treatment. Some of these tests include:
Caries Prevention: If left untreated, dental caries can be detrimental to the dentition as well as the patient’s overall body health. With innovative CariFree® testing, a saliva swab is taken to identify the presence of oral bacteria and determine whether more comprehensive treatment is required protect your smile.
Oral DNA Swabs: Oral DNA swabs are an effective assessment tool when determining the presence of more serious oral conditions, such as periodontal disease or oral cancer. While dentists may not diagnose, they do work in conjunction with your medical team to create a personalized treatment plan that focuses on the entire body.
pH Saliva Swabs: With this form of testing, samples are taken to determine the presence of tooth decay or other forms of oral health deterioration. The results are then used to determine whether additional testing or treatments are required.
Total Body Wellness in Sonoma
At Synergy Dental Group, our team is committed to providing dental care that takes the health of the entire body into account. For more information about our approach to total body wellness through dentistry contact Dr. Hubenette and our Sonoma dental team today.