You could say that my oral systemic passion began in the cosmetic dental realm. My father, Dr Jack Kammer, was the Founding Father of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Together we enjoyed learning the best ways to create amazing smiles. However, bloody gums spilling over onto beautiful cosmetic dentistry, or any teeth for that matter, never looked good! My frustration with one too many situations like that set me on a path to find the top perio mentors to help me learn the best ways of getting this bloody disease under control. That prompted me to inquire during the early 2000’s about the legendary dentist Dr. Woody Oakes (The Profitable Dentist, Excellence in Dentistry). He referred me to Dr. Ron Schefdore, who was working with some very progressive ideas on nutrition for healthier gums and administering C Reactive protein blood tests to identify serious systemic inflammation, like perio disease! Dr. Schefdore taught me that healthier gums can lower systemic inflammation, which in turn lowers C Reactive protein (CRP) levels, and consequently that lowers one’s risk for heart attack and stroke….and in his office he is giving his patients the CRP blood test in his office to prove it!
Healthier gums can lower your risk for the top diseases killing people today?
But does anybody know about this? Does anybody care? I certainly wasn’t reading that news in my dental journals at the turn of the century. This life and death periodontal issue was now on my radar, and I began diving into whatever studies and the medical writings I could find and was even scouring the mainstream media. I discovered more and more information to back up the oral systemic connection. However, the dental world continued to behave in a very sleepy way about these dangers. It appeared that no one was taking this news seriously. Like a skipping broken record, bloody gums were met by the dental team’s instructions to “floss more… floss more…floss more”. It was clear that this wasn’t working because the Surgeon General’s Year 2000 Report declared that most adults had gum disease. Then, consequently, most adults were also at higher risk for heart attack and stroke because of their gum disease. So where was the medical and dental community on getting this risk factor under control so we could ultimately reduce heart attacks and strokes? Hey dentists and physicians, you are failing the people! Now certainly there was a handful of brave pioneers doing their best to broadcast this news about the oral systemic connection, but was anybody listening? By and large, in the mainstream dental media, all I heard was crickets… and I by and large it was business as usual in the dental world, where diseased bloody prophies continued to rule the day.
With guidance from my mentors, along with my own research, and invaluable help from my hygienist Susan Ertel, RDH, MPH, I developed my own protocols for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease and I called it Gums of Steel. Leading with a “Zero Tolerance for Bleeding!” battle cry (thank you Shirley Gutkowski), I lectured on this information and gave presentations around the country. Along the way I received major support and encouragement from future AAOSH leaders Mike Milligan, Bill Domb, and pioneering perio expert Lisa Maria Samaha.
In the spring of 2010, I was invited by Dr. Dan Sindelar to present a full day Gums of Steel Oral Systemic program to his team. For years in my lectures, I would show a slide of my father and me titled “Like Father, Like Son?”. As I mentioned, my father founded the AACD and that I was planning on starting AAOSH, even though I hadn’t taken any significant steps to do that, other than putting it out to the universe in that way! Showing that slide forced me to be accountable to my vision. Well, it worked! It really lit Dan Sindelar’s fire, and he was so excited about getting AAOSH formed that I now had to commit myself to getting this done. I knew I didn’t want to let him down! He was the blast of enthusiasm that I needed to put the wheels into motion and make AAOSH a reality. Thank you, Dan!
The following week I sent emails to every attendee of my previous presentations as well as every Gums of Steel member. I wanted to know if there were others who wanted to get this movement going. On July 15, 2010, I held a conference call with 15 very progressive practitioners who responded to my rallying cry. It was very exciting! Sharing ideas with great enthusiasm on that call were Dr. Ellie Phillips, Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, Dr. Lisa Marie Samaha, Dr. Reid Winnick, Lynn Garber, and of course, Dr. Dan Sindelar.
From that conference call we confirmed our goal to have a founding AAOSH meeting. We wanted to go forward with three main objectives:
- Bring physicians and dentists together to work collaboratively for the best health of the patients we serve.
- Educate dental teams and all health professionals on the ramifications of the mouth-body connection. Create a new level of professional satisfaction when we begin adding years to our patients’ lives and wellness to their years.
- Educate our patients and the public on the oral systemic connection. If we can raise their IQ on the subject, they will become more passionate about having their best oral health and their best overall health.
Now we had a core, and everyone was fired up to have a founding meeting! I reserved the beautiful Monona Terrace in my hometown of Madison, WI, and ordered the food. In the months ahead I relied heavily on Ellie Phillips, Danny Bobrow and Dan Sindelar to help me get the word out and for web support. On October 15th, 2010, we gathered over 40 oral systemic enthusiasts who were on a mission to get this movement going. We told our stories, shared our passion, created a mission statement, elected a president, formed a board, and decided to hold our first national scientific session the following year in Chicago in June 2011. At that meeting we were able to attract over 200 attendees. Momentum was building!
With a mission to save lives and improve everyone’s quality of life – AAOSH was born!