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Oral Health Can Change Lives

Posted by Taylor Schachter on Oct 22 2019, 01:35 PM

Oral Health Can Change Lives

Excellent oral health can have a lot of positive benefits on the human body. From reducing your risk of conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, cancer and heart disease to improving your quality of life, it’s a wonder such a small area of your body can make such a huge impact on how you feel. But a recent study from the University of Utah really hits it home about how much excellent oral health can improve your life.

It didn’t really start as a study, but a lesson. Students in the university’s dental school were assigned to work on the teeth of patients at two nearby drug rehabilitation facilities. The services were designed both to help the patients – many of whom were in chronic pain due to dental problems - and the students by giving them real-world practice of their newly acquired dental skills.

Everything was going as planned as the students began working on the rehabilitation patients, but soon, the students and professors running the project began to notice something unexpected. According to the doctors at the rehab facilities, the patients’ oral health treatments were having an unintended impact on their treatment at the drug rehabilitation facility, too.

First, they began to notice that patients who had undergone oral health treatments at the university were staying in the treatment program longer - sometimes twice as long as those who did not receive dental care.

Next, they noticed that those who had undergone treatment at the university were able to secure employment at two to three times the rates of those who did not get dental treatment.

Finally, they noticed that patients who began their treatment program homeless were able to secure housing at a much greater rate than those who did not undergo oral health treatment. In fact, among those who were homeless and had their teeth repaired, almost every single patient was able to gain housing.

So, what is behind these amazing changes? Surely just having a nice smile won’t change your situation that much, will it? Well, technically, yes. Researchers in the study believe the oral health treatments benefited the patients in several ways. First, their oral pain most likely subsided, making their need or desire to abuse drugs less prevalent. Second, it likely improved their self-esteem, so they were more confident during job interviews. Also, it has been shown that the smile is the first thing many people notice, so a beautiful smile may have helped give them an edge in the interviewing process. This in turn helped generate new income, which could explain the increase in patients with housing.

So, you see, excellent oral health goes way beyond just your teeth!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar, please call 858-866-9692.

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