Fairport, Pittsford and Rochester, NY
Recently, my brother-in-law passed away. He suffered from a number of serious health conditions, which I believe might have been averted or better addressed had the connection between oral and body health been more firmly established in his treatment plan. Grant you, he lived across the country and that made it difficult to be an active participant in his diagnosis and treatment planning. Nonetheless, I raised the issue of oral infection with him and his doctors, but perhaps not soon enough. This case is a painful personal reminder that to some degree we all assume the infallibility of our doctors. However, as my brother-in-law’s case points out, doctors often treat what they know and what’s displaying most prominently. It was too late for my much-loved brother-in-law, but it’s not too late for most patients if we learn from this experience.
Bale and Doneen in Beat the Heart Attack Gene present an interesting case study of a patient named Wesley Robinson they nicknamed “Superman” because of his brawny appearance. Unfortunately, from a medical standpoint he was, they feared, a ticking time bomb with the indicators and family history to support early death. Superman had a family history also of severe periodontal disease. In a nutshell, Superman had all the “inflammatory markers” of a man at risk. Fortunately, they caught the issue in time and put in place a treatment plan that probably saved his life. The ironic part of this whole story is that his wife was a dentist! [Beat the Heart Attack Gene, page 164]
The takeaway: I believe it is essential to check for dangerous oral bacteria as part of every patient’s treatment regimen, particularly if the patient has persistently high inflammatory markers, a history of periodontal disease, or has suffered a cardiovascular event. This is part of our routine patient care regimen at Pittsford Dental Excellence Center. Should we identify a risk factor we can devise a plan to address it proactively rather than reactively.