Wednesday, Jul 8, 2020
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Why dental visits are important to your overall health

In this issue, I will address four important reasons why you should visit your dentist, especially now.

Once again, at the time of this article, dentists are practicing the art and science of healing through the touch of dentistry. We have all studied our craft for over eight years post-high school in rigorous programs of dental training, to be granted the title Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine, (DMD). Particularly, in this environment of health crises, dentists are needed more than ever to bring help and hope to those that seek our care. Today and beyond, we operate in a COVID-19-safe environment, still applying our skills and serving the public.

Four reasons why you should you visit your dentist now:

• To avoid mis-information and become better informed

I have found that majority of the fear associated with visiting the dentist is because of mis-information or lack of information. Many times, you make a decision based on what you might have heard someone say. Oftentimes, what you hear is partly true and lacking in context. The result is that we draw the wrong conclusions. What we should do is seek accurate information within the right context. My best advice is to seek out a dentist with a good reputation and track record, and at the very least, get a comprehensive consult with x-rays. Also, we should seek the views from dentists who are well-read, experienced in the subject matter and, of course, open to you seeking a second opinion.

Additionally, you should trust your instincts based on your own research and understanding. Learn enough about your own health and ask questions of your dentist. Questions are a signal to the dentist that you really care about your own health.

Also, consider requesting a second opinion before making an important decision. Empowerment comes from seeking a deeper understanding of your health and asking questions. Dentists admire and honor this because it holds us accountable to always serve at our best.

• Prevention is better than cure

Getting to the cure can be long, difficult and expensive. So, prevention is key. The statement, “prevention is better than cure” is an old adage that has stood the test of time. Why is this? Most diseases in dentistry are chronic in nature. This means, they can be prevented by our behavior when the right information is applied. So, if we prevent a disease, or catch it early, then it is easier to treat and cause less complications. Correcting a problem always results in more work and a great cost.

• Prevention or early treatment is cheaper than cure

Everyone would like to save money, and health care is often considered expensive. To date, as a practicing dentist for over 30 years, I have seen the same patients, and in some cases their children, over this period of time. There are countless situations where patients find themselves in the unenviable position of high dental bills because of procrastination and neglect of their dental health.

• Correct information and dental treatment that can save your life

Dental disease directly affects your overall health.

There is clear evidence that several dental diseases are predictors of abnormal medical conditions.

For example, the germs that cause gum disease also make you more susceptible to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis or low, birth weight babies.

So, how is this possible? Well, the common thread is the presence of the germs and reaction of your immune system.

These dental germs are extremely toxic and highly reactive when they get into different parts of the body. When a patient has a dental disease, the germs usually dislodge and travel through the blood stream and collect, for example, on the valves of your heart. This creates a violent immune response by collecting on critical organs affecting your health outcomes.

Similarly, there is a strong relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Diabetes is now the fifth leading cause of death in The Bahamas. The health of your gums can influence your diabetic status. We have known for years that if you are diabetic, you have a greater likelihood for progressive periodontitis. If your diabetes is unmanaged, you can prematurely lose your teeth. The more severe the diabetes, the more periodontitis increases.

Also, women who are pregnant are susceptible if they neglect their dental status. Studies show the germs associated with gum disease also travel through the blood stream to the placenta and are associated with premature contractions. All of these processes tend to be triggered by the body’s immune system. It recognizes a threat that causes self-inflicted damage not only to your dental tissues but to your other organs as well.

In conclusion, you should be aware that treating dental diseases at the earliest possible time serves, once again, as a boost to your immune system. Undoubtedly, improving your immune system will help you avoid contracting COVID-19, effectively manage any disease, as well as live a healthier and productive life.

Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry, a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified Fastbraces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue. He can be reached at telephone (242) 325-5165 or kmajorcsd@gmail.com.

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