Lifestyle medicine for you and your patients

Lifestyle medicine for you and your patients

Thomas Edison said: “The doctor of the future will not give any medicine, but will teach his patient about the care of the human body, diet and the cause and prevention of disease. In the future, he envisioned lifestyle medicine. Imagine how promising it must have been at the time. And it still is!

Unfortunately, Edison’s vision of what medicine would look like has not yet come true in this country. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six out of 10 Americans have at least one chronic illness and four out of 10 have two or more.1 In 1900, the leading cause of death in this country was 53%. By 2010, these statistics had fallen to 3%, but chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer, accounted for 53% of all-cause mortality.2

Benefits of lifestyle medicine

Obesity and diabetes are comorbidities that contribute to both heart disease and cancer and increase the chance of death from chronic diseases. Lifestyle medicine can not only be described as disease prevention through lifestyle choices, but it can also be implemented as a strategy to improve outcomes through traditional approaches to the treatment of chronic diseases. Lifestyle medicine can benefit many organs in the body and also expand strategies to improve oral health.

Related reading

Make yourself a priority – or pay the cost
Bowel Health: How Important Is The Food You Eat?

In 2018, “Lifestyle medicine: A brief overview of its dramatic impact on health and survival” was published. Permanent Journal and written by a team of respected doctors.2 It summarizes how lifestyle choices can be interrupted by a slow but permanent decline in health. I have personally worked on the use of these concepts and I encourage patients to do the same. My job for those of you who are reading is to start with yourself and then determine how to encourage your patients to adopt lifestyle medicine to prevent illness or to improve outcomes.

4 lifestyle interventions

In 2018, four lifestyle interventions are medicine “- healthy eating, active life, healthy weight and emotional resilience. Each category provides an analysis of adherence and nonadherence based on US population data.

This is sobering up. Here is a breakdown of each category’s compliance and non-compliance:

  • Adherence to a healthy diet, 23% / non-adherent, 77%
  • Adherent to active life, 40% / nonadherent, 60%
  • Adheres to a healthy weight, 40% / non-adherent, 60%
  • Adhesion to emotional resilience, 50% / non-adherent, 50%

For every result of a non-stick lifestyle, one moves further from optimal health and is driven towards poor health and illness. It may sound simple, but the whole impact of epigenetics reminds us that your genetic expression can be affected by lifestyle interventions. This means that while you may have parents and grandparents with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or Alzheimer’s disease, you can exponentially reduce your risk by behaviors and lifestyles that reduce the inflammation that supports these diseases. The same goes for our patients, who say, “My gums have always bled. Both of my parents had gum disease. ”

Today, we know that there are several factors that influence the propagation of periodontal disease in sensitive hosts that are affected by lifestyle choices. The conclusion of an 11-year follow-up study on diet in 2020 found that a poor diet predicted periodontal disease. It was found that the low diet score is strongly associated with the examination of pocket depth and the strongest in the group of middle-aged non-smokers.3 Does this mean that a poor diet outperforms tobacco in the risk category of periodontal disease? Well, this is one study, but dental professionals should be as committed and dedicated to education and coaching in the diet as tobacco cessation for disease prevention.

Another study is convincing in its findings on periodontal exercise and disease.4 It was an intervention study in relation to periodontal health with surprising conclusions. In this study, 71 obese men participated in either a diet or exercise intervention program for 12 weeks. Periodontal data, health indices and DNA analysis of periodontal pathogens were collected before and after the intervention periods.

The results of the two intervention groups showed that pocket depth probing (PPD), number of teeth with bleeding at the time (BOP) and total number of periodontal pathogens T. denticola decreased significantly more in the physical intervention group than in the diet group. In addition, the exercise intervention group experienced significant improvements in body weight, LDL cholesterol, and fasting insulin levels, indicating systemic improvement.

Does this mean that exercise exceeds diet? Again, this is one study. Interestingly, another study published in 2020 with similar results confirmed improvements in clinical parameters such as depth of probing and probing bleeding in an exercise group of patients.5 Patients with chronic periodontitis should ask dental professionals to include active living and exercise recommendations in treatment plans for non-surgical periodontal therapy if they are to achieve optimal results.

In terms of the impact that emotional resilience can have on periodontal disease, there are many studies that correlate the increase in periodontal disease with those who suffer from depression and anxiety. A recent systematic review of data examining psychological stressors and their correlation with periodontal disease confirms a high correlation in nine of the 11 studies analyzed.6 Stressors such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, negative life events and poor socioeconomic status correlated with increased levels of chronic periodontitis in smokers and non-smokers.

While many of us have been thrown into the awkward position of “counselors” for patients who are free to seek the advice of their trusted healthcare professional, it is important to have professional resources available to refer them to objective and therapeutic intervention. Adherence to emotional resilience, as opposed to nonadherence, could be a catalyst that allows the patient to finally achieve optimal clinical outcomes, as opposed to experiencing the discouraging reality of the inflammatory response and bleeding from the gum visit after the visit.

Lifestyle medicine is not easy because it requires informed healthy decisions. But is it worth not to join six out of 10 Americans with at least one chronic illness?

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the April 2022 print edition RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are entitled to a free subscription to the printed version. Register here.


  1. Chronic diseases in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Bodai BI, Nakata TE, Wong WT et al. Lifestyle Medicine: A Brief Overview of Its Dramatic Impact on Health and Survival. Perm J. 2018; 22: 17-025.doi: https: //
  3. Jauhiainen LM, Ylöstalo PV, Knuuttila M et al. Poor diet predicts the development of periodontal disease in an 11-year follow-up study. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2020; 48 (2): 143-151. doi: 10.1111 / cdoe.12513
  4. Omori S, Uchida F, Oh S, et al. Getting used to exercise is effective in improving periodontal disease: a prospective intervention study. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2018; 14: 565-574. doi: 10.2147 / TCRM.S153397
  5. Alkan B, Guzeldemir-Akcakanat E, Odabas-Ozgur B et al. Effects of exercise on periodontal parameters in obese women. Niger J Clin Pract. 2020; 23 (10): 1345-1355. doi: 4103 / njcp.njcp_627_19
  6. Decker A, Askar H, Tattan M et al. Assessment of stress, depression and inflammation as a collective risk factor for periodontal disease: a systematic review. Clin Oral Investig. 2020; 24 (1): 1-12. doi: 10.1007 / s00784-019-03089-3

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.