The hallmark of integrative medicine and integrative dentistry is to treat the person who has the disease, and not the disease that has the person. This means treating people not only in regard to their minds, bodies, and spirits, but also treating them for the wide variety of risk factors and contributory illnesses that may have contributed to their most significant illness.
Sometimes lesser problems are created by the primary problem, but sometimes the smaller problems occur before the primary problem, and contribute to its onset. In either situation, it’s important to treat all of the problems that exist. They may be intricately interwoven, and may be perpetuating one another.
This approach is rapidly gaining favor over the older approach of isolating diseases and conditions, one by one, and focusing on single treatments. Sometimes this results in just suppressing the symptoms of the primary problem, without ever getting to its root causes. It is better to try to achieve a robust recovery of the entire system.
Therefore, if a patient has periodontal disease, as well as a more life-threatening problem that is associated with it, such as heart disease or diabetes, it’s wise to treat the periodontal disease as part of a comprehensive program of recovery.
Sometimes the treatment of periodontal disease can significantly improve the response to treatment of the more threatening disorder. Research indicates that this can occur in diabetes, heart disease, and in the risk of pre-term birth. Treating periodontal disease may also be a significant factor in helping people recover from other diseases, particularly if they are not well-entrenched, or severe. For example, treating periodontal disease often helps people with premature wrinkling, and sexual dysfunction, and it obviously can help with bad breath, which can be bothersome. Without doubt, it is of tremendous help in preventing tooth loss, which is often very distressing for older people.
When a comprehensive recovery program is applied to a complex disease, though, it is often difficult to assign an exact ratio of benefit for each of the elements of that program. For example, if a diabetic begins exercising more and eating less, it’s hard to tell what has the most benefit. Similarly, when diabetics also resolve their periodontal disease, it can be impossible to know exactly how much that contributed to recovery.
Also, many of the factors that help control periodontal disease, such as a good diet, or supplementation with nutrients, can also be directly beneficial to serious diseases.
Therefore, the wise course of action is to clear up any possible condition that might be contributing to a serious disease. This often aids in not only recovery from the primary problem, but can also have many other benefits that are not even related to the primary problem.