Dental Health and Preexisting Conditions Birmingham, AL
Many people do not realize that the systems of the body are all interrelated. Preexisting conditions can affect dental health and vice versa. A complete health dentist can help you better understand the oral-systemic link and treat your overall health.
Oral-systemic coverage is available at Inverness Smiles: John Aiken, DMD in Birmingham and the surrounding area. We are proud to offer complete health dentistry for preexisting conditions and more. Call us today at (205) 282-8261 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.
Oral-Systemic Health and Preexisting Conditions
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, may be considered the primary component of the oral-systemic connection. The mouth is one of the primary entryways into the digestive and respiratory tracts, making it a natural breeding ground for bacteria. Most of such bacteria are harmless, but poor oral hygiene may allow them to multiply to dangerously high levels. At this point, the mouth becomes at risk for several oral infections. Inflammation will then enter the bloodstream, weakening the body’s immune system.
Oral health is most notably linked to preexisting heart conditions and diabetes. However, others involve pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Research has shown that heart conditions and periodontitis have a positively correlated relationship and that diabetes and oral health exist bidirectionally. As such, receiving treatment for one condition often treats the other. Poor oral hygiene can increase elderly patients’ risk of pneumonia. Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease are both linked to severe inflammation — making patients more susceptible to further health problems.
“Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, may be considered the primary component of the oral-systemic connection.”
Managing Preexisting Conditions With Complete Health Dentistry
Just as oral health may affect other aspects of a patient’s health, certain systemic conditions may also influence a patient’s oral health. Neglecting one aspect of one’s medical care can easily cause a never-ending cycle of health issues. As such, the very nature of the oral-systemic connection can sometimes necessitate changes to a patient’s treatment plan — dental or otherwise. For instance, patients who have had a heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, or even chest pain (also known as angina) should seek their cardiologists’ approval before scheduling any dental treatments.
Once approved, patients should tell their dentists about any heart conditions they have, procedures they have undergone, and medications they are taking to best allow the team to plan for any potential emergencies. This is true regardless of any systemic condition a patient may have. We can only provide optimal care if we know the full extent of our patients’ unique medical histories and preexisting conditions. Otherwise, patients may run the risk of further aggravating both their oral and overall health.
“Neglecting one aspect of one’s medical care can easily cause a never-ending cycle of health issues.”
Preexisting Conditions, Complete Health Dentistry, and Insurance
Insurance companies typically define preexisting conditions as those conditions a patient had either been diagnosed with or received treatment for before enrolling in their current health plan. Examples include chronic illnesses, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, lupus, various forms of cancer, and more. Since January 1, 2014, it has been illegal for health insurance companies to refuse to cover or charge individuals more for their preexisting conditions, nor can they limit benefits for such conditions.
No insured person can be denied treatment for their preexisting conditions. As such, it is easier than ever for patients to find the right insurance policy for them. Still, certain health insurance plans may be a better fit for certain conditions. Those with chronic or ongoing illnesses, for instance, may benefit from choosing policies that allow more frequent care. Patients must have a comprehensive understanding of their medical needs when selecting a health insurance plan. For many, this can begin with a consultation with a complete health dentist.
“Patients must have a comprehensive understanding of their medical needs when selecting a health insurance plan.”
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Treating Preexisting Conditions With Complete Health Dentistry
Studies have shown that general health has a bidirectional relationship with oral health, meaning that good health is impossible without a healthy mouth. Some conditions may put patients more at risk for periodontal disease. At the same time, periodontal disease may further aggravate certain conditions. As a result, patients require comprehensive treatment for optimal care. While traditional dentists typically treat isolated conditions, complete health dentists view a patient’s health in its entirety. This involves educating the patient on their condition, how it manifested, other systemic diseases it may indicate, and how to address it at the root.
Furthermore, successful treatment must involve sufficient inter-provider communication. This is especially true since most primary care providers rarely ask patients about their oral health. With a patient’s permission, we can work together with their medical team to best customize their treatment plan for their unique, individual needs. This allows us to further our patient-centered approach and address any warning signs of disease we may have otherwise missed. It can also assist all involved healthcare professionals in avoiding any potentially aggravating factors.
“Studies have shown that general health has a bidirectional relationship with oral health, meaning that good health is impossible without a healthy mouth.”
Questions Answered on This Page
People Also Ask
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I prevent gum disease?
A. Nothing can replace regular visits to a complete health dentist, especially since gum disease is often a "silent" condition with little to no symptoms until it has already progressed. However, good oral hygiene should be the first defense for anyone looking to prevent gum disease. Brushing at least twice daily and flossing once nightly can help remove plaque, especially when using a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Inverness Smiles: John Aiken, DMD can help determine your unique risk profile and what you can do to bring your mouth back to a healthy mouth baseline.
Q. Are there any risk factors for gum disease?
A. Lifestyle choices significantly affect one’s risk of developing gum disease. These involve excessive alcohol intake, tobacco use, and poor nutrition. Age, genetics, stress, medications, and grinding or clenching teeth may also play a factor. However, this list is not exhaustive.
Q. What are the causes of gum disease?
A. Typically, gum disease begins with a buildup of excess plaque. If left undisturbed for long enough, this plaque will eventually turn to tartar under the gumline. From then on, it will develop into gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. If left untreated, this condition will progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.
Q. Why does complete health dentistry involve patient education?
A. Patients often lack the necessary knowledge to make informed, critical decisions about their care. As a result, they may feel lost or taken advantage of within the healthcare system. Our goal is to empower our patients to become active participants in their recovery, those with realistic goals and a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions that affect them.
Q. Is pregnancy a preexisting condition?
A. Pregnancy is not a preexisting condition for most insurance plans. However, it may still affect and be affected by oral health. Our compassionate staff will take the necessary steps to provide you with safe, efficient dental care for both you and your baby.
- Bacteria are a large and diverse group of single-celled microorganisms, including some varieties that can cause diseases.
- A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity.
- Heart Attack
- A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart becomes blocked and causes the tissues to lose oxygen and die.
- Inflammation is the redness, swelling, and pain that is a part of the body’s natural response to protect itself from infection, toxins, or injury.
- Periodontal Disease
- Periodontal disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the gingival tissues and membrane of the teeth, leading to tooth loss without professional treatment.
Call Us Today
If you live in the Birmingham area, call 205-282-8261 for an appointment in our Birmingham office.
Helpful Related Links
- American Dental Association (ADA). Glossary of Dental Clinical Terms. 2022
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