Your mouth and teeth are just as important as other parts of your body, and it makes sense to treat them as such. At Winchester Dental, we practice integrative (holistic) dentistry. As an integrative dental practice, we provide solutions to help you reach your best oral health along with your best overall health. We understand that issues in your mouth can affect the rest of your body, and we consider every aspect of your health when we plan your treatment. When necessary, we partner with and make referrals to specialized medical providers to help ensure your complete care.
History and science are on your side.
History and science support this integrated approach. Hippocrates, known as the Father of Medicine, wrote about dental topics such as the eruption patterns of teeth, the extraction of teeth, and stabilizing teeth and fractured jaws with wires. Through much of recent human history, many physicians routinely treated medical and dental conditions, but in the US, the practices of dentistry and medicine began to divide in the 19th century when educators began establishing separate medical and dental schools, claiming that dentistry was of little importance. However, many recent studies link poor oral health and dental symptoms to conditions such as acid reflux disease, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and low birth-weight or premature babies.
Healthcare professionals are becoming more supportive of an integrative approach.
In light of such studies, healthcare professionals and education programs are beginning to call for (re-)integrating dentistry and medicine. They continue to raise awareness of this issue through studying and reporting about it, writing articles about it, asking policymakers for help, and working together to ensure comprehensive care for their patients.
As a patient, here’s what you can do to ensure your overall health.
Understand that your oral health links to your overall health.
Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body. It helps you to breathe, and allows you to stay hydrated and take in nutrition. But problems in the mouth—such as infections, jaw joint issues, narrow palates, misaligned bites, and (in children) facial development issues—can affect other parts of the body in surprising ways. This is important to remember as you seek treatment.
If you can, choose an integrative dental provider.
With a focus on your overall health, an integrative dental practice is well-equipped to offer dental treatment that addresses health issues that initially appear unrelated, but may actually be connected, such as oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea, or treatment of jaw joint disorders, which also can ease related problems such as headaches and neck and back pain.
If you experience a health issue that involves your mouth, remember that it may be important to speak to your dentist and your physician.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. The right treatment may come from your dentist, your doctor, or both. But if not every provider has the information they need from you to recommend and create a treatment plan, part of your issue could go overlooked. Working with an integrative dental practice can make this easier.
If you seek a solution to what you believe is a non-dental health issue, remember that it may still be important to tell more than just one specialist.
The more health information you report to any provider (including nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, physicians, and dentists), the greater your chances of finding the solution you need. Many health providers have interest and knowledge that extend beyond their fields of practice, and can often refer you to or collaborate with the right provider on your care.