Your Mouth Tells a Story

Functional Dentistry Connects Oral Health to Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

The focus of functional medicine—whole person health care—easily expands to include dentists trained in oral systemic health. Currently embraced by a small percentage of today’s farsighted dentists and doctors, this relatively new field of prevention and wellness views the mouth as a key portal when considering the status of the whole body. Similar to the way doctors of Oriental medicine assess the heart’s pulse to help diagnose health issues throughout the body, these systemic health dentists consider the gums, tongue, teeth and throat to be key signals of overall health.

American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH) Executive Director Bobbie Delsasso was a periodontal hygienist for more than 30 years before becoming a consultant and public speaker on the larger perspective. “I taught patients about the importance of good nutrition and alerted them to consult their physician regarding what their mouth health might indicate about their body’s health,” she says. While the academy educates dental professionals to understand the internal workings of nutrition and what the mouth reveals about overall well-being, “Less than 6 percent of physicians even learn adequate basics of nutrition in medical schools,” she notes.

Cardiovascular Health Links

Beyond nutrition, academy curricula for dentists now include such titles as Arteriology and Vascular Inflammation – The Oral/Systemic Connection, based on a course designed for medical professionals by physician Bradley Bale and Amy Doneen, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, co-founders of the Bale/Doneen Method for the prevention of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Mike Milligan, a doctor of dental medicine, founder of Eastland Dental Center, in Bloomington, Illinois, and AAOSH president, explains that heart attack and stroke are triggered by an inflammatory process which can be initiated or exacerbated by periodontal disease and abscessed teeth.

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