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A New Year–A New Look

A New Year–A New Look

A New Year–A New Look

by Bill Kuttler, DDS

At this magical time of the year, we all seem somewhat more open to “starting over”.  I know a lot of people who start out on a new diet, a new exercise program, or various other “new” ideas to improve themselves and their lives.  New intentions for better, healthier lives are good no matter when they occur, so I think all this attention to new beginnings is great.

My experience leads me to believe that most of us need coaches or a supportive group around us to help us stay on track.  Two years ago when I was getting ready to ride RAGBRAI, I had a personal fitness coach tailor a program for me, and IT WORKED!  What made it work was more than just the program she designed for me–I was accountable to Nicole Hutchison every week or so.  Every time she saw me, she monitored my progress and tweaked my program to help me keep improving and on track.  When July came, I was confident and ready, and I thoroughly enjoyed my RAGBRAI experience.  I don’t think I would have had the same result without her!

So who is on your health coaching team?  And what are your goals for the new year?  If you’d like to prevent problems before they occur or become major, starting sooner rather than later is always a good idea.  I’d suggest that one of your best coaches may be someone you wouldn’t suspect.  Your dentist and dental hygienist may be valuable resources, and I’m not just talking about your dental health!

These dental health professionals can be valuable resources for your general health as well.  They can help you prevent problems that can affect your total health and give you some early warnings about other health issues.

Here is a list of health concerns that are related to your dental health:

Research has shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.  There is also research that points to a possible relationship between oral infections and strokes.  While no one would claim that a healthy mouth will grant you immunity to either heart attacks or strokes, it seems likely that you can lessen your risks simply by having a healthy mouth.

There are also studies that have shown a relationship between Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and gum disease.

There are also proven connections between gum disease and premature delivery of babies and low birth weight in those babies.  If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, here is another reason to have a healthy mouth.  And it is far easier to get your mouth healthy before you become pregnant and then keep it that way, than it is to try to accomplish it after you are pregnant!  (The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy make it more likely that gums will swell and bleed when they aren’t in very good health).

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is often missed in its early stages.  Yet the earlier it is detected, the sooner it can be treated and its effects on your body minimized.  When we see someone with chronically bleeding gum tissue who says they are doing everything we suggest, we recommend that they be seen by their medical doctor and tested to see if there is a diabetic condition.  More than once the results have come back positive, and once that disease was controlled, the person’s mouth became healthy and free of bleeding.  What a great a win-win!  I don’t believe that the gum disease they had was caused by the diabetes nor do I believe that their diabetes was caused by their gum disease, but I’ve certainly seen a link.  Some research has clearly shown that diabetes is difficult if not impossible to control in the presence of gum disease, but once the gum tissue is healthy, the diabetes is easily controlled.

If you want to get or stay as healthy as possible, select a good team of coaches to help you succeed.  And I encourage you to include your dentist and dental hygienist as part of that team!  When your coaches can blend their knowledge with years of experience and wisdom combined with a deep understanding of you and your goals, they can help you achieve those goals and more.  They can help you accomplish more than you ever thought possible and improve your dental health as well!