For decades dentists didn’t think about whole body health. A dentist’s only job was to find and fill cavities or pull out teeth. The technology of the era was limited and dentists were not seen as playing a major role in a person’s health.
Today, however, there has been a sea change in how dentists treat their patients. Here at Green Dentistry, I take pride in leading the movement away from old-fashioned drill-and-fill dentistry and towards a more Wholistic approach to whole body health.
While I have your attention, I want to share the 2 biggest and most important health tips I can:
1. Start with gum health
So many patients come to see me because they have a toothache or they wish their teeth were whiter. But I take a look in their mouths and their gums are a mess. They are suffering from advanced — and often undiagnosed — gum disease. Your gum health is just as, if not more important than the health of your teeth. Your gums and teeth work together and can’t healthily exist without each other. If one is diseased, the health of the other will suffer as well.
Think about it: you wouldn’t build a house without a foundation. So why would you even think about repairing teeth that are sitting on a set of unhealthy and diseased gums?
2. Develop a healthy lifestyle
Brushing and flossing alone aren’t enough to help you achieve a healthy and happy long life. You must put an emphasis on developing a healthy lifestyle. To me a healthy life is one:
- Full of nutritious foods, including plenty of plant products, the right amount of protein, and low on processed foods and unhealthy sugars.
- Including time for yourself to meditate and eliminate stress from your life. Stress places a burden on your immune system and your health. When stressed, your immune system can’t keep up and the result is chronic inflammation and disease.
- Centered around regular physical exercise. You don’t have to run marathons or climb mountains. Moving your body for 30 minutes a day, whether it’s yoga, walking around town, or doing CrossFit is enough. Listen to your body and create an exercise program focused on what’s enjoyable to you.
If you do those things you’ll be on the path to a healthy life. What more can we possibly ask for?!
Understanding the dangers of inflammation
Imagine your car keeps overheating. Sure, you can keep adding coolant or fluid to the radiator, but unless you solve the underlying problem, your car’s performance will suffer. Inflammation in the body is similar. You can continue to treat the symptoms, but the underlying cause is the true problem.
As I mentioned earlier, fighting chronic inflammation taxes the body’s immune system. We must eliminate infection not just cover up the symptoms.
Symptoms of inflammation
Gum disease and inflammation in the mouth may present with no symptoms at all. However, many people will begin to experience:
- Chronic bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Gums sensitive to hot/cold temperatures
If you see any of these signs, talk to your dentist right away.
Understanding the body, gut, and oral systemic connection
You must realize your body is a collection of interconnected systems. Every organ and cell must work in harmony for you to achieve lasting health. Nothing is isolated. When one system is under attack, the results can be far-reaching and truly devastating.
Let’s consider your mouth and gums. MILLIONS of bacteria call your mouth home. There’s nothing wrong with this — the vast majority are innocuous or even beneficial to your health. But there are also a few bad apples mixed in. Given the opportunity, these bad bacteria will gladly spread throughout your body, wreaking havoc as they go.
But how do these bad bacteria enter the body? Gum disease is a commonly overlooked vector of infection and disease. Bleeding gums (even at the microscopic level) allow bacteria to invade the body, traveling through the bloodstream like it was a high-speed freeway. Eventually these bacteria make their way to an organ system and some may even pass through the blood brain barrier. Modern research suggests these bacteria may be responsible for increased risks of:
- Heart disease
- Pancreatic cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
DO YOU HAVE GUM DISEASE OR DIABETES: Patients with diabetes frequently suffer from gum disease. The opposite is also true. Gum disease may be the first warning sign you’re at risk of diabetes. Ask your dentist.
Are bacteria throwing a party in your mouth?
Hormone imbalances are a leading cause of gum disease and poor overall health. Bacterial infections create a wicked and destructive cycle:
- Bacterial infections cause hormonal imbalances
- Levels of thyroid, progesterone, estrogen, and other essential hormones fluctuate and keep your body’s processes from functioning at peak performance
When hormone levels are off, the bacteria have a party in your mouth and the results can be devastating to your whole body health.
How I help cure gum disease and tooth decay
Today, thanks to high-tech digital imaging and computer technology, resolving infection and restoring the health, function, and beauty of your teeth is easier than ever. For example, laser gum disease treatments are minimally invasive and actually help your gums to heal and become stronger.
And if tooth is suffering from decay and requires a root canal, modern high-tech crowns are amazing. With digital imaging and fabrication technology, you can get a crown made in about an hour. There’s almost no delay.
Schedule an appointment today
I’m always welcoming new patients at my practice. If you’re tired of fixing issues with your teeth and gums, let’s talk. We’ll get to the root of the issue, discuss the oral systemic connection, and create a plan to improve your whole body health.
Call (415) 433-0119 today or schedule online.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.