Home Issues2023 OSH Issue Whole-body and Practice Health In the ‘Mouth-Body’ Connected World 

Whole-body and Practice Health In the ‘Mouth-Body’ Connected World 

by Lee Ostler

The world of oral-systemic healthcare has grown in significance and acceptance since its inception at the close of the last century. While researchers and advocates have been speaking to this theme for decades, the surge in literature from about the year 2000 onward has propelled the “mouth-body” connection onto today’s modern healthcare landscape. Because of the necessary connections between dentistry and medicine there are rich opportunities for cross-referral relationships which support improved health in patients and increased practice revenue, by offering enhanced collaborative care. As such, each and every patient is an open door to a multiplicity of other health professionals in your community. Each provider can and should become a referral center – with whom we share legalistic expectations for improved communication relative to healthcare of mutually shared patients.  

The foundation of these connections began with the recognition that oral bacterium and biofilms initiate a complex local inflammatory response, producing damage to soft and hard tissue foundations of the dental and periodontal environment.  It was then discovered that these effects were not simply a local response, but more insidiously increased whole-body inflammatory burden – with connections to such health problems as heart and cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, lung disease and pregnancy complications, and an array of metabolic disorders.  

Efforts to establish the legitimacy and reality of these findings led to the formation of the health professional organization today called AAOSH. It has as its unique mission to educate health professionals and the public about the effects of the oral-systemic condition, and how health providers can work together better to comanage overall care. 

This organization – The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health – began in 2010 with a small cadre of enthusiasts focused on the linkages between periodontal disease and systemic disease. It has now grown significantly in size and scope to also address other ‘mouth-body’ issues such as airway growth and development, sleep apnea, TMJ/TMD, and nutrition to name a few – with its overall emphasis to translate this knowledge into practical hands-on care.  

A core emphasis is to educate and inform health professionals from all disciplines on not only the core health conditions, but also on the how and why of co-management collaboration – especially in an era where health silos fracture patient care on many levels. Bringing the physicians, dentists, teams and allied healthcare professionals together and uniting the world of medicine and dentistry – essentially ‘putting the mouth back into the body’ as it were, to better manage a person’s overall health – is the mission of AAOSH. This focus necessarily includes both removing the root causes of disease and dysfunction, as well as enhancing healing from within by enabling each person’s native ability to repair through improved healthcare collaboration and personal lifestyle.  

As such we invite health professionals from all walks to learn more about the Oral Systemic Connection and to work closely with your patient’s other health providers to improve their health. In doing so you will develop closer working and referral relationships with other providers and referral centers in your community and elevate your level of patient care to a higher level, generally. That is something patients talk about! 

Please consider joining with us at AAOSH to help change the world of healthcare – as well as your patient’s and practice’s health.

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