As healthcare practitioners, our main goal is our patient’s well-being. In an integrative healthcare model, all practitioners, need to learn to work together for a common goal. Dental professionals need to educate themselves about different treatments and diagnoses that relate to the body as a whole. Medical practitioners need to educate themselves about oral conditions and diseases that affect the overall health of their patients.
Everyone needs to learn the potential effects of conditions and issues and how they interact to create dis-ease. There needs to be more sharing of information on the fine points of disease and conditions and the different treatments available.
From an oral perspective, dental practitioners must see their patients as a whole and realize that systemic issues and conditions can affect the health of the mouth and also that oral conditions can affect whole body health. We need to be more exacting in that relationship of how oral pathology can influence other organs and metabolic pathways, leading to systemic effects. We also need to learn to speak and communicate in ways that physicians and other medical providers can understand. One of the most beneficial things that dental professionals can do is to help inform and educate their medical, naturopathic, chiropractic and nursing colleagues in identifying and understanding oral diseases and conditions.
Medical professional also have a responsibility to help dental professionals understand systemic diseases and conditions. There are many ways that systemic illnesses can affect the health of the head and neck area.
For example, in considering the posture of a patient, the alignment of the body can affect how healthy and functional the mouth is. If the body is misaligned or canted, the occlusion or bite can be pathologic. This can affect the health of the tempromandibular joints. It can also affect the health and condition of the teeth, the musculature of the mouth and surrounding structures. Once the body is aligned, the mouth can be stabilized and vice versa.
We can also look at thermographic images of the body and see direct influence or connections between the mouth and body structures.
It is widely recognized in integrative medicine, that direct connections between certain teeth and body parts or organs exist. When a tooth is diseased, the corresponding body part can be affected as well.
When we look at the traditional training and education that we all acquired in dental and medical schools, we realize that we were all taught an amputation model of delivering care. We were taught that if we cut away disease, then health will appear.
As more open-minded professionals, we realize this model does not work well for most patients and only further prolongs their morbidity and possibly can cause a faster mortality.
It becomes incumbent on all health professionals to to educate ourselves and to find and help educate colleagues who are open-minded enough and willing to learn new modalities in order to work together towards common goals.