I am still in Texas at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. I just read an interesting article in this past Friday’s Wall Street Journal by Theodore Dalrymple entitled, “Supersize World.” For me, being in Texas and a healthcare provider, this epidemic needs our attention. Although obesity is not quite as prevalent in Fairfield County, Connecticut it is still a national epidemic. I can write about lots of things in cosmetic dentistry but in today’s blog, I feel about writing how our overall health must dovetail with the great smile, great teeth and great gums.
As a healthcare provider, I am clearly concerned for the health of my patients. As I am in Texas, one of the leading states in obesity, I feel addressing the importance of health and where that fits into the perspective of cosmetic dentistry. It certainly enters into Sedation Dentistry, where an airway becomes more difficult to maintain. But I am looking at this in a very different perspective. In cosmetic dentistry, we say that the elective nature of what we do should not be preempted by what it is necessary to do. For example, if a patient has a molar with lots of decay that requires a root canal and restorative dental treatment, it would be unethical to place cosmetic dental work such as eight porcelain veneers without addressing the issues of the molar with the decay.
In a like manner, the medical history shows us many things that may need to be attended to before we go ahead and treat the patient. Does the patient have uncontrolled diabetes? Does the patient have severe hypertension? These two examples might preempt doing any dental treatment until they are controlled by medication and with a consult with a physician.
In a similar way, obesity has become such an epidemic this needs to be addressed in the dental office, as well. I have recently treated patients that are obese that their health was and is a concern of mine. As a Sedation Dentist that is highly trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support by the American Red Cross, when we treated these patients my staff I felt ready handle any emergency that might have arisen. We have all sorts of emergency equipment such as a defibrillator, oxygen and epinephrine.
So, treating the patient that is obese is a challenge for the dental office. As a healthcare provider, I realize that in addition to treating these medically-compromised patients, part of my responsibility is also to address their obesity much as I would advise a patient into smoking cessation.
So before I address porcelain veneers or even the cost of porcelain veneers, or Invisalign or any other cosmetic procedures, a patient’s health history is paramount. But I am now seeing that obesity, as a health hazard and a dental risk, also needs to be addressed.