The Oral Systemic Health Movement
Maintaining optimal oral health may do more to reduce healthcare expenditures throughout your lifespan than any other public health measure.
NOTE: Dr. Isaac Comfortes does not want you to think that you must be a follower of Holistic Medicine or a patient of a Holistic Doctor or be seeking a dentist in Integrative Dental Medicine in order to be our patient. On the contrary, we welcome everyone who wants a healthier mouth and healthier, longer life. Our goal is to share the latest knowledge and help patients individually and appropriately meet their personal health and smile goals.
Founded in 2010, the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health is an organization of healthcare leaders and health professionals dedicated to expanding awareness of the relationship between oral health and whole body health. AAOSH membership includes and is open to health professionals from many allied health disciplines, corporate supporters and sponsors, health educators, and healthcare leaders. Dr. Isaac Comfortes has been a member of the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health since its inception and will be one of the speakers at its 2017 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City.
Oral Systemic Health is the next big movement in healthcare.
By Isaac Comfortes, D.D.S.
The concept that the health of the mouth and the body are integrally linked with each other has been in the minds of dentists for decades, but research over the last twenty years has bridged the gap between scientific evidence and this concept. We now know that chronic inflammation of the gum tissue in the mouth elevates systemic inflammation and impacts all the body’s systems. Most of the public does not realize they are living with chronic inflammation that is damaging their circulatory system, immune system, insulin control system, joint system, nervous system, and the organs of their body (heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, liver…). As a dentist, I see gum tissue bleeding when we probe the gums and clean teeth in our office. This is visible evidence of inflammation that can be reduced, eliminated, and controlled. Over 70% of the U.S. population suffer from gum disease to some degree, and without treatment, they suffer chronically. The cost of this to their body, quality of life, longevity, and pocketbook are huge over their lifetime.
Armed with scientific evidence, new technology, and evidence-based protocols, dentists, physicians, and allied health professionals are working together to educate the public, energetically educate our patients with focused intention, and provide all the resources we have at our disposal to help individuals we see have a healthier and longer life.
Affecting gum health are home hygiene, regular professional dental care, nutrition, stress, the health of your body, disease conditions that are already occurring, and a genetic component relating to your body’s immune response. Maintenance of inflammation-free gum tissue translates into improved systemic health. It means saving your natural teeth for as long as possible. It means lowering your risks of or reducing the level of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, immunological disorders, obesity, infertility, pregnancy complications, cancer of the mouth, head and neck – and more.
Today we have the diagnostic tools to learn what specific bacteria have taken up persistent residence in an individual’s oral cavity, and we have the treatment protocols and pathogen-specific antibiotics to combat chronic gum disease. At Total Health Dentistry of Encino, we implement these diagnostic tools and treatment protocols, and we also provide referrals to consulting physicians and nutritionists when our patients need these in order to control oral and systemic inflammation.
The connection between your mouth and your body goes beyond your periodontal health.
Not only do we partner with patients in controlling their diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, and many other inflammatory diseases, we regularly examine our patients for evidence of hypertension, oral cancer, dental caries infections, TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders), bruxism, bulimia and acid reflux, sleep apnea, temporal arteritis, kidney disease, and less than ideal nutrition. We are observing them for excessive dental wear, due to stress induced teeth clenching and grinding. We take detailed medical histories, understand medications, and frequently consult with patients’ physicians prior to dental treatment. And, as a result, our patients are better able to move their whole bodies back in balance through counseling, diagnostics, optimal dental treatment, and referrals to appropriate physicians and nutritionists.
The fascinating and rewarding response to this kind of oral health care, is a deeper relationship with our patients and loyal patients who drive from long distances after moving. We see their health improve, and we celebrate it. We sometimes involve them in helping other patients who need emotional support, for example, encouraging someone who has type 2 diabetes and must constantly battle gum inflammation to control sugar levels. And, of course, we emotionally support our patients every day, in every way that we can.
Because I am aware of the spiritual aspect of my own mind and body health balance, I think it is easier for patients to converse with me about this. It is rewarding to be in a doctor-patient relationship with individuals who grow in happiness, productivity, and social interaction after improving their oral health, systemic health, and smile aesthetics. The meaningful conversations we have while they are in the dental chair about their lives and choices is enriching to all of us who come together as a team in our practice. And by this, I mean, not just the hygienist, the dental assistant, the front desk staff, and myself. I mean, also, our patients. We are all on the oral health and oral systemic health journey together.
This is why I hope you will read the oral systemic health blogs we will be posting on this website and that you will share, in conversation with us, your own questions and insights you have gathered. By reading these blogs, you will learn how to reduce systemic inflammation in your own body. You can be part of a movement that becomes knowledgeable, shares knowledge, and helps your family and friends have a healthier, happier life.