When people think of dentistry, they think of it being somewhat separate from medicine, but the fact is that taking care of the mouth and teeth is essential to maintaining overall health, and therefore should be treated like any other medical specialty.
One reason for this may be that, in the U.S. anyway, dentistry is not included in most regular health insurance plans, but is instead sold separately (which gives the impression that it is not the same), and because culturally, we think of dental care as being more cosmetic than health-related. But in truth, there is increasing evidence that dental care is related to many other conditions affecting overall physical as well as psychological health.
According to the World Health Organization, “Oral diseases are the most common of the chronic diseases and are important public health problems because of their prevalence, their impact on individuals and society, and the expense of their treatment.”
So what happens when we don’t treat dental care the same way we do other medical issues? The answer isn’t pretty:
“Oral health affects people physically and psychologically and influences how they grow, enjoy life, look, speak, chew, taste food and socialize, as well as their feelings of social well-being. Severe [tooth decay] detract from children’s quality of life: they experience pain, discomfort, disfigurement, acute and chronic infections, and eating and sleep disruption as well as higher risk of hospitalization, high treatment costs and loss of school days with the consequently diminished ability to learn. [Tooth decay] affects nutrition, growth and weight gain. Children of three years of age with nursing [decay] weighed about 1 kg less than control children because toothache and infection alter eating and sleeping habits, dietary intake and metabolic processes. Disturbed sleep affects glucosteroid production. In addition, there is suppression of hemoglobin from depressed erythrocyte production.” – World Health Organization
As you can see, there is good cause to consider oral health as part of the general, overall health picture, and to try to maintain it in the same manner.
For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us at Dr. Dawn Gayken, DDS today.