WORLD HEALTH DAY
APRIL 7TH, 2017
What is depression?
I am entering my 23rd year of treating patients. During this period, I have had the privilege of a having a front row seat in their lives. In the relationships created with them, I am often humbled by what they share with me.
I practice with the belief that our mind-body and spirit are connected. There is no way for me to be able to provide good dental care to my patients without taking this fundamental integration and connection into account.
In addition to my commitment to continuous learning in the field of dentistry and dental sleep medicine, I believe that it is also my responsibility to make sure that I grow and remain open to listening to what my patients are saying to me. But even more importantly, to be curious of what they are not saying and try to read between the lines of their silence.
I would like to share what I have found to be a pattern in my practice that has revealed itself over the last many years.
1. More patients seem stressed out today than when I started in 1994
2. More patients seem to be on medications for depression and anxiety, including young teens and adults
3. Many admit to suffering from depression and anxiety when asked that question during a routine medical history review.
4. More however, do not admit to being depressed or anxious , despite obvious presenting signs and symptoms of the condition
5. This is true of all age groups that I see in my general practice, including very young children, teens and young adults
6. Many patients feel that depression is an un-treatable disease and have accepted that they will never feel whole again. Others don’t even remember the last time they felt energized, hopeful and experienced any joy
Reports indicate that more people in the US see their dentist at least once a year than those visiting a primary care physician. They may not even have a PCP of record. So in addition to the implications listed below, our responsibility to screen for depression and the state of a patients mind health is critically important as we may be the only health care professional they see during the year.
1. More patients are overwhelmed and find it challenging to find time for their appointments due to very hectic schedules. Missed or unscheduled appointments compromise their health and well being.
2. Delayed or postponed treatment ends up potentially costing patients more time, money and energy in the long run in addition to being the number one reason for patients experiencing painful or life threatening emergencies
3. Patients exhibit poor conditions orally due to lack of focused effort in their home care when depressed or anxious
4. Poor oral hygiene leads to bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation as healthy gums don’t bleed
5. Oral inflammation enters the systemic system. Inflammation has been validated as the starting point of many systemic diseases.
6. Depression itself has been shown to cause inflammation in the body.
7. Medications for depression may cause higher occurrence of bruxism (tooth grinding causing wear, broken teeth, sensitivity, etc. ) and a dry mouth (leading to decay)
8. Depression is associated with many sleep disorders
9. Lack of sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause depression
So at 229 Charles Street, we discuss depression as we do hypertension, cancer, diabetes or any other disease of the body that affects our patients.
It is part of our medical history review. We raise awareness of the prevalence of this disorder that is the leading cause of disability in the world. We educate our patients about the many ways that depression and anxiety affect our health and well being and how we are robbed of an optimal life when we suffer in silence.
I invite you to join me in celebrating World Health Day this Friday and work together to support the millions of people suffering from this disease.
Go onto the WHO website and learn more about Depression. Find out how you can help.
If you suspect you may be affected by anxiety and depression, get help.
Ask the 5 most important people in your life how they are feeling.
Encourage them to seek help if they exhibit signs of depression and anxiety.
Allow your conversations with others to go beyond monologues taking turns to be heard. Listen with your heart. Be present. Be supportive and encouraging.
I know that all pillars of health stand on the foundation of mind health so am committed to doing whatever I can do bring attention to the importance of this foundation being sound and integrated .The price that we pay when it’s not is unacceptable to me- for myself, my family, my patients and the rest of humanity.
Until next time,
Be well, Do well, Live well
Treating disease- Promoting well being -Inspiring Optimal Living