For many years, there was a great divide between the medical and dental worlds. Today, the gap continues to grow smaller as more connections between oral and overall health are discovered. Chicago dentist Dr. James Fondriest believes that this gap may soon be nonexistent.
The Dental Chair May Be a Good Place for a Medical Checkup
The American Dental Association recommends routine six-month dental checkups and exams and, if you keep up with this recommendation, this means that you will see your dentist almost twice as frequently as you see your general physician, assuming that you keep up with regular annual checkups.
Your oral health and your overall health are greatly intertwined. For example, if you suffer from advanced periodontal (gum) disease, you have a much-increased risk of developing diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart problems, stroke, and pregnancy complications. If Dr. Fondriest detects an oral health problem at your dental appointment, he can easily assess the health of other parts of your body simply by asking you questions and performing quick, but telling medical tests. Other problems, including tooth damage, chronic headaches, and sleepless nights, also provide links between oral and overall health, as they often signify a bruxism (tooth grinding) habit, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, and sleep apnea.
Getting Patients on Board
A recent survey shows that 20 million Americans see a dentist, but not a general physician during a given year. While dental healthcare is extremely important to maintaining a healthy body and high quality of life, the results of this survey aren’t ideal. Every person should see the dentist at least twice a year and a general physician once a year—and more if certain conditions exist.
As dentists and physicians work to bridge the gap between the dental and medical worlds, it’s up to you to do your duty as a patient. Attend regular dental and medical checkups—your mouth and your body will thank you.