I have a special fondness for seniors, and often hear tragic stories of healthy people in their 70s who receive inadequate care and experience dramatic health declines accelerated by the interaction between oral and systemic health issues.
I recently heard of a colleague who advocated for her father after a diabetic amputation to convince his endocrinologist and orthopedic surgeon that treatment of the multiple abscesses in his mouth was critical—rather than elective—to his wound healing. This demonstrates how divorced the mouth has become from the rest of the body.
The interaction between oral and systemic diseases is well established.
- Heart Disease- The plaque on our teeth is often times indicative of plaque in other parts of the body.
- Arthritis- The inflammation of gum disease is the same inflammation that causes arthritic pain.
- Diabetes- A dental cleaning helps control blood sugar for diabetics. The list is endless and often ignored.
With approximately 76 million U.S. seniors and 10,000 more turning 65 every day, imagine the impact we could have on their health if oral health was seen from an overall health lens. Taking small steps such as reminding our elders, whether parents or grandparents, to make their bi-annual or annual visits to their dentist could help improve their quality of life and, in certain cases, even be a lifesaver.