Beyond dentistry: Helping patients’ long-term health
Friday, November 17, 2017
We all know cardiovascular disease remains a major problem in our society. People often hear about how diet, exercise and doctor visits are some of the most effective ways to prevent a heart attack or a stroke.
However, many dentists are also aware of how oral health is also a major factor in the equation. So, the question is, can dentists do more to fight cardiovascular disease and help their patients live longer?
They can. You just need to make the connection between dental health and heart health a key element of a larger long-term health strategy for your patients.
It's important to make sure people understand that the importance of oral health doesn't end with fighting cavities during childhood. People know their bodies change, and certain risks can increase over time. The same is true with the health of their mouths. Plus, researchers have found direct correlations between the health of the mouth, heart and brain.
So how do you take additional steps to improve people's long-term health?
Partner with primary care physicians
This means health care practitioners should team up and provide a more comprehensive approach to patient health.
Doctors can develop relationships with knowledgeable dentists in an effort to help save lives. That also means that dentists have to view the scope of their work beyond healthy teeth.
Doctors have other specialist referrals available to their patients. Why shouldn’t an informed dentist be part of that team?
Keep an eye on new technologies
As people age, cardiovascular disease isn't the only dental problem at risk. There's also the issue of bone and gum recession around the roots of teeth. It can happen as early as 50, and it's obviously better to get that problem addressed sooner than later.
When these issues result in tooth loss, dental replacement can also complement a long-term health strategy for patients.
Dr. Steven Brock, DDS, says putting a stronger emphasis on the health of the mouth, body and brain has been a game-changer. Part of this new approach includes seeking out new advances in dental implants for older patients.
He says it's not only beneficial from a quality standpoint, but also as a long-term health perspective. Strong dental replacements and implants can mean having the ability to eat healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables that can add up to seven years to someone's life.
That's why Brock has a unique milling machine in development overseas. A company called Zirkonzahn is a leading innovator in the production of zirconium materials to advance the creation of dental restoration solutions like veneers and crowns.
Brock says this technology will allow his practice to perform full-mouth dental planning for bone-based foundation implant placement while creating custom smiles for people who want another opportunity to have a nice set of teeth. This new tech is being developed in Italy right now, but Brock expects to be using it before the end of the year.
He feels that new technologies along with a more comprehensive approach to patient health can truly be a life-saving strategy.
"The art and science of dentistry today presents a gateway for anyone to embrace a better-preferred direction if challenges with dental inflammation or tooth loss exist," Brock said. "It all starts with a thorough assessment and a plan. Your heart and sound mind may very well depend on it."
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