Despite headlines you may have read, heart disease is still the number one killer in the U.S., followed by cancer and then (hopefully only temporarily) COVID-19. Gum disease is on the rise in this country. This condition affects much more than just a person’s mouth. We need to shut down the dangerous anaerobes that live in our tissue and bone that drive the oral and systemic inflammation. The bacteria that live in our mouth do not stay in our mouth! Hygienists are not only cleaning deposits off of teeth; they are managing dangerous bacteria and saving lives!
Patients see their dentist more often than they see their physician. The start to providing optimal care is having informative conversations with our patients when discussing their health history, their medications, and the tie in their periodontal and endodontic health.
Married to a cardiologist, it was beneficial for both my dental patients and his medical patients to receive integrative care, and to that end, we worked together to build a center for my restorative practice that includes oral-systemic health diagnostics, counseling, and treatment.
Pushing the Standard of Care
My practice, Complete Heath Dentistry of Columbus, is distinguished from other practices by pushing the standard of care to treat patients based on his or her risk factors for developing systemic health issues. Saliva/oral DNA testing enables us to take this proactive health approach. This testing allows us to learn if our patients have dangerous oral pathogens. It helps guide us on how to better treat our dental patients with periodontal therapy and with oral probiotics, as well as Perio Protect trays.
My husband, Dr. Eric Goulder, and I opened the first medical center in the United States with an accredited Cardiologist and Dentist to practice the Bale Doneen Method testing and care under one roof. We passionately believe a medical Bale Doneen provider cannot optimally help their patient without the assistance of a dental team that understands the value of their work.
With every patient, we discuss oral health risk factors for cardiovascular disease and strokes. We use saliva/oral DNA testing to proactively calculate the CVD risks of our patients with the recommendation they create a health plan with their doctor geared toward overall health. With focus on prevention and the elimination of disease, we work with patients to achieve optimal oral and systemic health.
Pushing Dental-Medical Integration
Across the country, dentists are teaming with cardiologists to better understand the oral-systemic connection and to help their patients discover developing risk factors for heart attack and stroke, among other diseases such as diabetes. You do not have to have a cardiologist under your roof to similarly help your patients.
You can explain to your patients that one of the most painless tests that can reveal hidden heart attack or stroke risks is a carotid artery scan (CIMT scan) that measures carotid intima-media thickness. It is an important test for individuals with few risk factors for developing cardiovascular issues. Under traditional care, 75 percent of heart attacks happen in people with normal cholesterol levels. Through this no radiation ultrasound procedure, the neck is examined so that a doctor can uncover whether or not a patient is heading for health problems. This screening detects atherosclerosis, a condition where deposits hide within the arteries. Also, it is possible to find the “age” of a patient’s arteries.
Through CIMT ultrasound testing, a cardiovascular problem can be identified 10-15 years prior to an event. While 50% of the population does not know they have a growing cardiovascular problem, this simple test provides an early diagnosis for lifestyle counseling and dental-medical treatment.
Working with your patients and their physicians, you can also recommend the NT-ProBNP blood test that is a part of the blood testing involved with the Bale Doneen Method. This test measures the amount of BNP in the blood. When the heart is under stress, the body excretes high levels of this substance. If elevated levels are detected, it is a red flag that a person may be heading for a stroke or heart attack.
Dr. Eric Goulder and I are on a mission to push physicians to be proactive, to understand what is going on inside arteries, discover why the disease is present, and observe the disease stabilize after treatment. I encourage you to become familiar with the Bale Doneen Method if you have not already done so and become familiar with cardiologists in your area who can be of assistance to your patients. Two-way referrals are a natural outcome of developing these relationships, and patients are very appreciative.