What is the difference? Around the 1970’s a shift in focus in medicine started to take place. Prior to this time the main focus of medicine was to look for and treat disease. Once the disease was “cured”, the person was considered to be healthy. In the seventies there were some doctors that started talking about optimal health. What did they mean? When a person is optimally healthy not only is there an absence of disease, but all their systems are working optimally and the person feels “alive” and filled with energy and vibrant health. In my view, a person with optimal health does not feel sluggish, has a brightness in their eye, a spring in their step, boundless energy, sleeps well, has clarity of mind, sharpness of thought, and is able to enjoy life fully without any interference from their body. Absence of disease on the other hand suggests to me that the person has no major illness, but may be controlling certain medical conditions with medication, and as long as they are controlling these conditions, they are not suffering from the illness, but they may not feel like the person that I described above. People with “absence of disease” may still feel sluggish, un-energetic, drag through their day, fall asleep at their desk or behind a steering wheel, get home after a day’s work and fall asleep watching TV, etc.
How does one achieve optimal health? Optimal health is within the reach of most people. It requires that a person take personal responsibility for their health and well-being. We must learn to develop and cultivate healthy habits. … A few months ago I wrote a blog post call “An Apple a Day …” This is what I was getting at … What are some of the elements of a health-directed programme?
1. Proper sleep.
Most people require 7 1/2 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Many people suffer from a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be linked to many serious medical conditions. I believe that everyone should have a proper sleep study or polysomnogram. Sleep is both restful and restorative. Without sleep we would not be able to function physically or mentally with any consistancy. Lack of good quality sleep can predispose a person to mood swings and eratic behaviour. Sleep is also repairative. Our bodies need sleep to heal, to repair cuts, fractures, micro and macro injuries that may occur during a typical day.
2. Proper nutrition.
The old saying “you are what you eat” is in many ways very true. I come back to “an apple a day” … what if it were true? In other words if we made healthy, natural, choices for unprocessed, unrefined foods that feed and nourishour bodies there is a good chance that we would stand a better chance of living healthier more energetic, vibrant lives. This is especially true when we think of oral health. There is no question that the foods we eat can have a dramatic impact on the health of our mouths. Sugar is not only bad for our health, but is deadly for our teeth.
3. Proper Excercise.
This is the third element to living a healthy life. We don’t have to be extreme, but it’s very important to keep moving, stretching, practicing good posture, indulging in some resistance training, breathing through the nose, and challenging our cardiovascular fitness. Excercise improves circulation, delivers oxygen to our cells, keeps our body and our brain functioning, stimulates endorphin release which enhances our mood. It is difficult to be depressed when we are excercising.
What Can we do to achieve optimal oral health? Because I believe that a person can’t have optimal overall health without a healthy mouth, and that one can’t have a healthy mouth independent of a healthy body, my advice is to start with the “big 3” outlined above and add to that the use of consistent, daily oral health care … flossing, toothbrushing, and possibly the use of oral irrigators such as the Waterpik water flosser. This coupled with regular preventive maintenance visits to your dentist can go a long way to ensuring great oral health and teeth for life.
We must work together as a team … you doing those things that you can do on a daily basis, and the dental office doing those things that you can not do at home, every 3 to 6 months depending on the condition of your mouth.
If you would like more information on this, or you would like help on achieving your best healthy self, let us know your thoughts and feel free to ask questions.
Yours for better health,