While it has been common knowledge in the dental profession that there is a link between oral and systemic health, the really great news is that the public is beginning to get this message via mainstream media channels. Today, we know that if a patient has periodontal disease, they have a higher risk of experiencing general health issues such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-ecclampsia (early-term birth), and certain cancers. Below are three links that have appeared in the media recently about the link between oral and systemic health:
Whoopi Goldberg on The View http://bit.ly/8c1NY
ABC News Story Linking Gum Disease to Heart Disease http://bit.ly/1oBBPL
Fox News Story Linking Gum Disease to Fertility http://bit.ly/qpH6TZ
I’d recommend that you load these video clips on your monitors in your operatories, minimize them and have them handy when you would like patients to understand the link between oral and systemic health. Each video has its own tone and personality. If you have a patient who likes celebrities, show them the Whoopi Goldberg video. If they are more scientifically-oriented, show them the ABC News clip. If you know your patient is interested in having a family show them the Fox News clip linking gum disease to fertility. We all know the axiom that a picture is worth 1,000 words. These videos create a visual imprint on your patient that is much more effective than simply talking with them.
Using these video clips to educate your patients will help you get serious about diagnosing and treating perio disease. In my ideal world, the patient cares deeply about the health of their teeth and gums. However, reality tells me otherwise! The patient (sadly) may not care too much about their oral health, but they do care about their general health and typically want to live long, healthy lives. It would be wonderful if your patients see you and your hygienists as guardians of their overall health. If your patients see a visit to your office as an important component of their overall health then they will be more likely to keep their appointments with you and become more compliant to your recommendations.
Below is a link for the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. This group was founded recently by Dr. Chris Kammer and is devoted to increasing the understanding of the link between oral and systemic health. This Academy is doing great work and you will benefit by being part of their community.
Here’s to your success in helping your patients achieve great oral health and in turn, achieve better overall health! Keep smiling!