Holistic because we believe the health of the mouth and our overall health cannot be separated. The term biologic may apply because we strive to find new and better ways to help individuals get and stay healthy, and always seeking materials and techniques that are as biocompatible as possible, while at the same time providing for durability, longevity and conservatism.
The term holistic emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. Relative to the practice of dentistry, there is no recognized specialty that would allow one to be called a holistic dentist thus the use of the term holistically inclined approach to the practice of dentistry.
We must remember the same blood that flows through the brain, heart, liver, muscles, etc also flows into the teeth and gums. No part of the body functions alone and independent instead functions as a whole. This is also true at a cellular level, thus to think that an infected tooth or gum around the tooth can influence things at a cellular level throughout the body, truly raises the importance of how we care for our mouth.
Even with this understanding, we often times see the medical system moving away from the holistic approach to a more “parts” orientation, where more and more treatment is directed at the symptoms of disease rather than its cause.
So when we approach the practice of dentistry from a holistic/biologic point of view it just makes sense that the patient be invited into all discussions that must be made in developing appropriate treatment plans. To the degree the patient is involved in deciding what treatment will be rendered and specifically what techniques and materials will be used, the greater the chance that the patient will have control over what is being done and placed in their bodies.
The Importance of Flossing
For many years we have known about the connection between the health of your mouth and your overall health. Since 1997, studies have shown that the underlying factor in heart disease is chronic inflammation, including chronic inflammation of the gums. This knowledge has changed the way modern dental practices have operated, and the way we look at chronic dental problems such as periodontal disease (gum disease).
Even though it is often painless, gum disease is the main reason for tooth loss in adults. The real culprit is plaque. Plaque is the sticky, bacteria-laden film that collects on your teeth. Without proper removal of plaque on a daily basis, this film layer builds up, allowing the bacteria to grown and thrive, creating chronic infection in your gums.
The body responds to the unwanted bacteria by producing inflammatory response to fight off the bacteria. Evidence of this inflammation is when gums bleed. Other unpleasant symptoms include: bad breath, swollen, tender, red gums, loose teeth or teeth that are moving apart.
The teeth and gums are not an isolated compartment, but rather an integral part of a bigger system. The same blood that flows through the gums and teeth also flows through your heart, brain, lungs, etc.
A report in the March 19, 2013 issue of Circulation, an American Heart Association Journal, states: “Dental infection and oral bacteria, especially viridans streptococci, may be associated with the development of acute coronary thrombosis (heart attack). The same article also states, “Poor dental health has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Chronic periodontal infection especially, has been associated with the risk of acute myocardial infarction (MI) and coronary heart disease. In addition, the researcher found that periodontal disease was a significant independent risk factor for peripheral vascular disease.”
A recent publicized article in many media outlets questioned the value of flossing. This may have sent an irresponsible message that proper oral hygiene, including plaque removal by flossing, is not necessary. I feel this is inaccurate and does a disservice to the health of the general public.
Proper flossing technique, which includes flossing the entire tooth and below the gum line, will remove bacterial plaque. This daily removal of plaque is the standard for creating health in our patients.
I believe taking responsibility for one’s health is critical, especially at a time when healthcare is in such a state of flux. It has been stated that it is easier to “stay well than to get well”.
Creating the habit of proper daily dental hygiene, including proper flossing, you can create health and indeed save your life!
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