Ames Neighbors North Magazine
November 2015 Issue
By now it should not be shocking news to learn that your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and certain cancers are increased if you have problems in your mouth. Yet dental care for many of you may only mean dealing with problems as they arise –a toothache, gum problems or a broken tooth.
Interestingly, most of you probably treat your overall health differently. You likely go to the doctor for a physical and have some tests and bloodwork done. The physician reviews your risks factors, family history, along with your test results and makes recommendations that will keep you healthy, help you avoid disease and treat any problems. This is considered a health model.
If you’re running on a repair model for your dentistry – something hurts or breaks, you get it fixed and then you wait until the next situation arises – what you don’t realize is that the problems in your mouth may contribute to, or signal other problems happening in your body. This is quite scary.
My team and I are working to move our patients toward a health model for dentistry. We thoroughly look at x-rays, identify risk factors, evaluate the teeth, gums and bone that supports the teeth, and how the bite fits together. We test whether patients have a high bacterial count in their mouth. High bacteria levels usually equal a high likelihood of getting cavities and/or infections. We use the information to make recommendations that reduce the risk of having dental problems or other overall health problems in the future.
I strongly believe you should have the choice to be presented a “Health Model”. Get information about what you need today, but also learn what you can do to have a healthy mouth and body 20-30 years down the road. In order to have this opportunity your dental care provider needs to be committed to lifelong learning by actively pursuing advanced educational opportunities and be putting them into practice. My focus is on maintaining and achieving health rather than waiting for disease to happen and then trying to repair it. As one of my mentors Dr. John Kois says, “The best dentistry is no dentistry.”
Jason Niegsch, DDS, FAGD is a member of the Iowa Dental Association, a distinguished Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, and a Graduate and Mentor of the Kois Center for Restorative Excellence in Seattle, WA.