What a dentist sees in the mouth gives clues to a person’s overall health. Diseases like diabetes can be detected by seeing lesions or other oral problems, according to the American Dental Association. Yet this window into the body isn’t enough to get the majority of Americans to see a dentist on regular basis.
Oral Health’s Importance
Dr. Jack Von Bulow, a dentist in Temple City, California, says the general public doesn’t understand the linkage between oral health care and the rest of the body. Health practitioners need to do more to promote the understanding.
“It’s a work in progress,” he told me. “Doctors and dentists need to learn more about each other.”
He mentioned treating sleep apnea as a specific example of how the two disciplines can work more closely together. “Only about 25 percent of primary care physicians screen for sleep apnea. Yet, people who have the condition live about 8 years less on average than the general population.
“I’ll treat sleep apnea and will also direct a patient to have a sleep study at a hospital.”
Industry advances like the use of lasers for gentle cleanings has made dentistry a more creative profession than when Dr. Von Bulow was studying dentistry at USC. His passion as a child was art and he enjoys writing. Creativity is fine by him.
“We stay on top of trends. I hang out with heavy-hitter dentists, learning verbal skills and systems. I’ve worked with the best people. It’s exciting and you can translate techniques into results the next week.
“With all the cameras, computer technology, and the ways we can communicate with patients it doesn’t resemble anything like the days I was in dental school.”
Yet, about half of Americans don’t see a dentist on a regular basis. I asked him why and he said it’s an age-old dilemma.
“I think fear of going to the dentist is a real deal. Dentists can put patients at ease by becoming great listeners and letting the patient know she is the one in control.
“Financial objections are another common reason for not seeing a dentist. For someone to come in and have their gums checked is the cost of half a latte every day. Don’t let that get in the way of not having a regular check up.”
A Dentist’s Understanding
Dr. Von Bulow said he understands patient’s concerns when he cared for his ailing mother. “I was my mom’s caregiver for about 10 years and took her through the whole journey in health care.
“Too often we treat people by the numbers and conclude with a financial transaction. The strength we have is found in relationships.”
Good health is about connections, says Dr. Von Bulow. The trust between the health provider and the person needing care can lead to a greater understanding of how the body works and an improved quality of life.
Dr. Von Bulow’s website has an article library on various health conditions for further study.