Wellness Wednesday: Oral health vital for overall wellness

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 19:37:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Certain diseases and medications may affect dental health, and conversely, dental decay and infection and inflammation can adversely affect overall health.

Recent recent research has found that poor oral health may be connected with several chronic illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease, among others, according to Dr. Marc Collman, a dentist with Intermountain Healthcare.

Globally, oral infections are among the most common causes of inflammation-induced diseases. A recent study of more than 700 people published by JAMA last April, found that people who experienced oral infections in childhood were were likely to be at risk for heart disease and stroke.

Your oral health can be a window into your overall health
As early as 1910, a physician, Dr. William Hunter had the idea that a distant site, such as the mouth, could contribute to disease in other areas of the body such as gastritis or colitis, etc.

Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria—mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive tracts and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease. Normally your body’s immune system and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Certain medical conditions can be linked to oral health
Endocarditis, ardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and immune disease that cause dry mouth (Sjogren’s disease).

Finally, Dr. Collman, said it’s noteworthy to mention that aspiration of bacterial pathogens has been linked to pneumonia in the institutionalized elderly and the special needs populations.

Certain medications can affect oral health which in turn give clues to problems with overall health
Medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants can all reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that can multiply and lead to disease.

What is Intermountain Healthcare doing to do integrate oral health into overall wellness?
Because of the important connection between oral health and overall wellness, Intermountain Healthcare is integrating dental services with medical service to help provide “whole health” care to Utah residents and their children.

Intermountain Southridge Dental Clinic, on the Riverton Hospital campus opened its doors to patients in July. The clinic offers comprehensive dental services to patients of all ages. Dr. Troy Sargent, DMD brings 23 years of dentistry experience to the clinic.

Intermountain Healthcare recently announced how it’s integrating expanded dental care into its preventive model, beginning with a unique collaboration with Utah-based Berg Children’s Dentistry to provide a “whole health” approach to care for Utah children. Berg has 14 Utah locations and employs 18 dental providers.

The collaboration will enable primary care providers and dentists to work closely together to improve overall wellness and prevent disease, especially for children, in communities throughout Utah.

Intermountain Medical Group pediatricians and family medicine caregivers will work closely with Burg’s 18 dentists to coordinate care and make it more convenient for families to get all of the care their children need.

McKay-Dee Hospital, in Ogden, is the new location for Intemountain’s Special Care Dentistry Program. Patients with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Down’s Syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities, Neuro-Behavioral issues, Seizure Disorders, Acute Situational Anxiety and alike who require all of their dental services be completed in a controlled operating room visit using general anesthesia.

Intermountain Healthcare is working to integrate medical and dental records
Providers, whether a physician or a dentist will be able to access the patient’s electronic medical record as a resource to make health and prevention recommendations to patients.

"We're taking the lead on integrating, organized and connected physical, mental, oral health model in Utah," says Dave Henriksen, Intermountain Medical Group operations officer. "Adding dental clinics is very much aligned with our mission to help people live the healthiest lives possible."

“This integrated focus on dental care will help us increase our focus on the whole health of each person we serve,” added Henriksen.

Visit Southridge Clinic Dentistry's website or call 801-285-4200 to learn more about their services and to schedule an appointment.