There are many kinds of doctors—Doctors of English, Doctors of Philosophy, Doctors of Medicine, Dr. Pepper… (wink). Of course, when we use the term doctor, we most often mean a physician or Doctor of Medicine. But did you know that dentists are doctors, too? Every doctor has a specialty–and a dentist’s specialty is oral health. Gilbert dentist Dr. Nathan Saydyk explains how dentistry is a specific branch of medicine, and what it all means for the link between oral health and overall wellness.
Dentists are Doctors
Dentists are every bit as trained and educated as physicians. They have the same general education in science as physicians before they get clinical training in dentistry. This background education helps dentists look at you—the whole package—when taking care of your teeth.
Dentists are specialists in the science and mechanics of oral health, which extends to your head, face, and neck (the craniofacial region)—important parts of your body! Your oral health is an MVP when it comes to overall health and wellness, and dentists are just as important as other doctors when it comes to total body health.
The Oral-Systemic Link
Have you ever had your whole printer jam because one tiny piece of paper is out of line? It’s endlessly frustrating and time-consuming, and a reminder that machines require all parts, big and small, to be in good shape to get the job done. You are not a printer, but you are made of countless cells, organs, muscles, and bones that all work together to make you human and allow you to survive and be healthy.
Dentists look at your mouth, gums, and teeth, but they also look at your jaw (TMJ), face, head, and neck, keeping an eye out for signs of a problem such as swelling, discoloration, and more. Often times, dentists also perform tissue biopsies, diagnose illnesses, and screen for high blood pressure and oral cancer. Dentists can tell just by the look of your mouth if you might have other health issues like stress, chronic inflammation or poor quality of sleep.
Time and time again, doctors, dentists, and researchers come together to find important overlaps in medicine and dentistry. We call these overlaps “the oral-systemic link.” There are already many studies about oral health links to diabetes and heart conditions.
Seeing the dentist regularly is important in assessing your risks for health conditions all over your body. For example, respected family physician Bradley Bale says: “Periodontal disease is a medical disease with a dental solution.” Periodontal disease is advanced gum disease that’s linked to other chronic and acute illnesses like cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. The best dentists and physicians will insist on working together to help you reach your optimal health.
Good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits accomplish much more than just polish your pearly whites. Everything from eating and sleeping to working and playing depends on a healthy smile. The healthier your mouth is, the healthier and happier your whole life will be.
Choose a dentist who asks questions about your personal goals for life and health. Ask them about their views on whole body dentistry that works toward your wellness as one, big, interconnected machine.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.