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Oral Health; the Gateway to Happier Life

By Dr Swapna Udayakumar BDS, PGDCTM

Dentistry is perceived as one of the oldest medical professions, dating back to 7000 B.C. With the progressing human civilisation like the Indus Valley, Dentistry also advanced. Hippocrates (450 BC to 380 BC), the father of medicine and Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC) have in their writings discussed in details on tooth extraction and oral hygiene. Further, in the 16th Century AD, French surgeon Ambroise Pare, as part of enhancement of dental care, introduced tooth fillings made from lead and gold. Revolutionising dentistry, in 1844, Dr. Horace Wells discovered the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas for pain management during dental procedures. The invention of the dental drill by Dr. George F. Green in 1864 contributed laudably to improve the accuracy and efficiency of tooth preparations. In 1844, Dr. Horace Wells discovered the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, revolutionizing pain management during dental procedures. Dr. G.V. Black, known as the “father of modern dentistry,” had made significant contributions to restorative dentistry, including developing silver amalgam fillings in the late 19th Century.

We, the dentists believe “Oral health is the gateway to a healthier life” and also understand the emotional aspect of dental care. According to me as a practicing dentist I believe “every tooth of a human is more valuable than a diamond.”

Conventional dental treatments have largely been looked at as procedures restricted to either removal or replacing teeth. The general association of pain and discomfort have been synonymous to dental clinics. But is that all that we have to consider regarding oral health and Oral Balance? Is there any connection between oral health and whole-body wellbeing?

 The traditional and Complementary approach to address disease as a dysfunction of the  body as a whole holds good for dentistry as well.

The understanding of the human being is primary to understand the disease process. The physical body functions at its best when the koshas or its constituent components are in optimal balance. 

The physical body (Annamaya Kosha) is tend to and taken care of by Etheric body (Pranayama  Kosha). The etheric body is responsible for the growth and repair of the physical body. The ability to  feel and move is facilitated by the Astral body ( Manonmaya Kosha) while the higher function of  thinking, choosing and decision making is given by the Ego organisation (Gyanamaya kosha).

When we have a patient showing up with recurrent tooth decay or gum problems, we are able to observe the impact on the physical body. However the disease initiation and progression has occurred not just in the physical body but in the corresponding koshas as well. Hence it becomes imminent that the management of the health concern is addressed from this 4 fold approach.

The immune regulation, the reparative capacity and healing processes are regulated by the influence of the etheric body on the physical body. The Astral and Ego organisation in turn influence the Etheric and physical body. This explains the interconnection of systemic diseases and their manifestations in multiple organs. The organ systems work collectively and the symptoms are  manifested at different time frames, at varying intensities in different organ systems.

This synchrony can be related to in reverse order as well. The psycho- emotional functioning or the thinking and feeling realm of the individual oscillates between its highs and lows all the time. Said in another way, it oscillates between health and illness all the time. The body is tuned into this auto regulation and self-healing or body reparative mechanism comes into play to maintain this balance.

The emphasis here is that, the psycho emotional state is the missing link between the external environmental factors and the inner functions of the body. How we react to the external factors determine the inner functioning of the body. This co relation is very instrumental in understanding the development and maturation of a human being. An insight to understand the developmental deficiencies in children and how we can augment the remediation planning based of a 3 dimensional view of the aetiology itself. From dysmorphia, cacholalia, cachopraxia to skeletal or dental malocclusion. We are not just looking at a speech issue or an aesthetic correction, but a complex of  the dysregulation at the level of the 4 constituent members (koshas) and the psycho emotional  state.

The temperaments of the individual influence the psycho -emotional state and has an impact which participates in the overall dysregulation process. In orthodontic malocclusion cases like overbite, over jet, or issues like bruxism, the temperaments and behaviour characteristics are very distinct.  Hence understanding the temperaments (Prakriti) also guides in effective treatment planning and  choosing the most appropriate treatment modality.

The above mentioned approach is not just about being appropriate in treatment planning and  execution but is largely preventive in nature. The multidisciplinary approach in understanding the orofacial manifestations and extrapolating it to treating the person as a whole enhances the quality of life manifold. Thus the focus is not just relieving the acute symptoms and addressing the chronic conditions, but fostering a healthy lifestyle and a fruitful relationship between the care giver and the care receiver.

How does this understanding influence the treatment plan?

As per the severity of the condition warrants the treatments and procedures are planned. The disruption in the body rhythms are addressed through diet and various life style modifications as deemed necessary.

The suggestions are planned also considering the temperaments (prakriti) type.

The koshas are enhanced and balanced by pranayama and other breathing exercises. Art therapies like painting, clay work, music etc are employed. Movement therapies like yoga and eurhythmy is used. Self-awareness and introspection and intellect enhancement is also recommended.

This is just the beginning to how integration can play a role in understanding and treating the disease condition and also its prevention and sustaining health.

“Scientific hypothesis are necessary to the march of progress, they are the main driving force for research, which in the end is just the verification and refutation of the hypothesis.” – Claude Bernard.

“A happy mouth is a happy body”

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