Do We Prioritize Physical Fitness Over Oral Health? HEALTHY MOUTH, HEALTHY BODY
January is the month when health is top of mind. A Nielsen survey found that “stay fit and healthy” is the most common New Year’s resolution in the United States. This is a worthwhile pursuit, and it’s one that will benefit both ourselves and our loved ones. Each year, I always plan to lose a little weight or get more exercise, too. However, as a dentist, I worry our general concept of what it means to be healthy begins and ends with physical fitness. In recent years, a number of scientific studies have determined that a person’s oral health is systemic to the rest of their health. There is strong evidence that periodontal disease, in particular, may have some associations with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or adverse pregnancy outcomes. The Mayo Clinic has even gone so far as to call oral health “a window to your overall health.” If your New Year’s resolution is to lead a healthier lifestyle, taking care of your teeth is just as important as hitting the gym regularly. “If your New Year’s resolution is to lead a healthier lifestyle, taking care of your teeth is just as important as hitting the gym regularly.” At the office, my team and I work to help patients achieve a higher level of dental health, which can lead to an improved quality of life.
We’ve learned proactive treatment is vital in maintaining your oral and physical health. One area in which we’ve seen a lot of great results is in our HealthyStart program for kids. While the majority of diagnosed sleep apnea cases occur in adults over the age of 40, today, nine out of every 10 kids struggle with the adverse health symptoms of sleep disordered breathing, or sleep apnea. The dangers of sleep apnea are becoming more well-known, as the strain sleep apnea puts on your body can lead to weight gain, depression, mood swings, fatigue, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Parents need to be aware of the warning signs. It’s not normal for kids to snore, suffer from restless sleep or mouth breathing, spend all day feeling tired, or wake up with dark circles under their eyes. HealthyStart is just one example of how we focus on our resolution of providing the best care we can for our patients. There are many other ways in which our team strives to help patients lead healthy lives. For example, oral cancer claims the life of one person every hour in the United States. In our office, we have the VELscope, an advanced device that allows us to identity oral mucosal abnormalities and screen for early signs of oral cancer. We recommend patients be screened with the VELscope annually. Additionally, our dental hygienists are prepared to advise patients on their diet to optimize their dental and overall health. Our
hygienists can tell you whether the bottled water you’re drinking is acidic or alkaline and inform you about its effects on your dental health. They also can counsel you on the effects of tobacco products on your oral health. Furthermore, they will review any health problems and medications that may affect your oral health. For example, some medications cause dry mouth, which can increase your risk of decay, while people with diabetes are at a greater risk for gum disease. Every day, our team strives to be personal, friendly, and always do what’s best for our patients’ overall health and comfort. Here’s to a great 2018! Whatever your goals, I wish you the best of luck in achieving them. Remember, we’re here to help in any way we can. – Dr. Stuckey
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