Both periodontal disease and TMD are inflammatory disorders.
We have lots of dental patients who are suffering from the effects of inflammation, and one of the things we can do is help them look at inflammation not from just a local perspective but also from a systemic perspective. Our goal is to help them reduce inflammation where it occurs in the mouth and, also, throughout their bodies in general.
In addition to the first line dental treatments, we can work with our patients at higher risk to manage their general inflammatory response by advocating and discussing dietary changes. I have had great success with some patients by giving them nutritional guidelines.
I know some of you are “rolling your eyes” when you read this because you have had little impact on dietary changes. But we can throw it out there, and some of our patients will latch on to that information and try hard between their dental appointments to make a visible difference when we next see them. These are patients who want to be proactive, and this is something over which they can take control, much like the percentage of patients who accept fluoride varnish and implement the Sonicare devices we recommend.
We don’t need to hold ourselves out there as nutrition experts. We can explain that periodontal disease and TMD are inflammatory processes and one of the things we are learning today is that the foods we eat can increase or decrease inflammation in general. We can suggest this is something they could become curious about, do some internet research, and use the anti-inflammatory foods information they find to affect positive changes in their total health and the oral health issues we are observing.
I tell patients there are great books on anti-inflammatory diet guides and anti-inflammatory cookbooks on Amazon. Dr. Joel Fuhrman and the Forks Over Knives publications are two I mention. If you delve into reading on this topic yourself, you will find you can easily converse about the impact this reading has had on your own diet and the health of other patients.
Be as general in the information you provide or as specific as you are comfortable, but by starting this conversation with patients, you are doing your best to help them.