Top Navigation

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Physical and Oral Health: Are They Connected?

We all make an effort to stay on top of our medical needs. We regularly schedule child visits for our kids and annual physicals with our family doctors. We probably have the contact information for a dermatologist, an ENT, optometrist, OB/GYN, physical therapist and many other specialists saved in our smartphone (or at least have their cards hanging on the refrigerator.)  We understand the importance of having well-rounded medical care, so why is dentistry so often left out of our “medical mindset?”

More and more, research is showing the link between our oral health and our physical well-being. An issue that may have started as isolated bacteria and inflammation around the teeth can move to other parts of our body and cause serious problems even outside of the mouth.

For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently found that nearly 65 million adults in America suffer from periodontal disease. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, some complications associated with periodontal disease (gum disease) include:

  • Asthma

  • Respiratory problems

  • Low birth weight in babies

  • Stroke

  • Coronary Artery Disease

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another very obvious overlap between dental and physical health is the detection of oral and pharyngeal cancer.  Cancer of the oral cavity and the pharynx is often initially discovered by your dentist  during a routine exam. Early detection and proper diagnosis are critical and can result in a much higher recovery rate.

The CDC also reports that dental caries (tooth decay) is still the most common chronic disease in children and adolescents.

There are many factors as to why dental care seems to be regularly overlooked or de-prioritized when it comes to our health: absence of dental insurance coverage, anxiety or fear of going to the dentist, and a lack of awareness of good oral health habits and the significance of seeing a dentist regularly are a few of these reasons.

Dentists and physicians are more commonly working together to promote the magnitude of both oral and physical health and show the significance of the connection between the two.  Doctors are being trained to examine the mouth, are providing patients and parents of patients with information regarding oral health and encouraging positive dental habits from a very young age.

It is important that we recognize that staying on top of our oral health has more advantages than just sporting a pearly white smile (though that it a great benefit!).  It is an essential piece of the puzzle in ensuring that our physical health is also top notch!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips to Help You Conquer Your Dental Fears

We touched on this subject earlier this year. But now we have some great new tips in this post.

Is fear of the dentist keeping you from getting the oral health issues in your mouth resolved? Statistics show that about 15% of Americans experience dental anxiety and that it’s a major factor in why people put off having dental work done. If the thought of needles, drills, and probes makes you squirm, or you suffer from dental phobia, a more serious condition that can cause panic and even paralyzing fear – then read on. We’ve got six tips to help you overcome your dental dread and have a more comfortable experience with your dentist.

  1. Meet and greet.  Before you actually make an appointment for a procedure, ask if you can drop by for a tour of the office and to meet the staff.  Becoming familiar with the dentist, assistants and setting can help calm your nerves and set your mind at ease. You can also review Brighter's comprehensive dentist listings here.

  2. Do your homework.  Got a specific procedure in mind? Do some research online.  There are many video diaries, case studies and blogs out there (especially for major treatment options such as implants, crowns, bridges, orthodontics, etc.) The more you know about a procedure and the steps required for completion, the more comfortable and prepared you will feel. And, the less your nerves have to deal with unexpected news.

  3. Read Testimonials. Whether it’s about which dentist to pick or which treatment option to choose, let other patients give you a first person take. It can be reassuring to hear it from the mouth of a peer. Testimonials will give you a more relatable perspective. Brighter dentist profiles include patient testimonials as well.

  4. Listen to a referrer you trust. Ask your family, friends and coworkers how their dentists address anxiety and fear. Find a dentist who is sensitive to dental phobia and takes your concerns seriously.

  5. Schedule a Consultation. Most dentists, upon request, will schedule a no-charge consultation to discuss treatment options with you. Come prepared to this meeting to discuss any worries or questions you have regarding the procedure (this is where “do you homework” comes in to play again.) Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to also bring up your dental anxiety with your provider at this meeting! If he/she knows your concerns, you can work together to find a solution that creates the optimum experience for everyone involved.

  6. Sedation Dentistry. Sedation dentistry sounds more intimidating than it really is. There are several stages of sedation ranging from minimal to deep. The type of sedation you receive is dependent on the procedure type and the preferences you and your dentist discuss beforehand. It is usually as simple as using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during treatment or taking a mild sedative (such as Xanax) beforehand.

Avoiding the dentist due to fears and anxieties can allow small, easily resolvable issues to develop into problems that require major treatment.  Brighter helps members find a great dentist using our comprehensive online dentist profiles as well as calling our member services team.

Try these strategies and work to overcome your dental phobia and stay on top of your dental health!

What other suggestions do you have that have worked to calm your nerves and put your fears to rest before a visit to the dentist? We would love to hear your suggestions!