Quality of Life – The New Vital Sign

Quality of life is the new vital sign and at Incredible Smiles we're here to help improve your overall dental health. Dr. Lori KemmetAt Incredible Smiles we consider your total well -being. Yes, our focus might be cosmetic dentistry and treatment for TMJ, but we also closely monitor dental hygiene health. Do signs of stress show up in our patient’s mouths? Yes! Do we often see a patient who has optimal homecare but their tissue still bleeds? Yes. We always tell our patients that an infection in the mouth means an infection in the body. People somehow disassociate what is happening in their mouth (or any body part) with what happens in the body systemically. Periodontal disease is response to a system under stress.

The first time I heard the phrase “Quality of life is the new vital sign” was from Cheryl Burdette, ND of Dunwoody Labs who my team and I heard speak in Boulder CO.

Cheryl referred to an article from her lab, which states, “Prolonged stress can cause the adrenal glands to become fatigued. This causes a decrease in cortisol levels. Normal cortisol levels are highest in the morning to wake us up and then decrease gradually until midnight, promoting relaxation and sleep. This is the cortisol circadian rhythm. Abnormalities in this rhythm can lead to fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain around the middle, poor coping skills, exercise intolerance and depression.”

Just a few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting a new patient who came into Incredible Smiles for a consultation. We discussed cosmetic options for her smile once she completed orthodontics in Boulder. She had a gorgeous smile but was obsessing about tiny spaces near her tissue and the midlines of her teeth not aligning. I simply gave her permission to stop the recording that was continuing to play in her mind about her smile. She had an A smile but wanted an A+. Was the emotional stress she was unnecessarily placing into her life having a detrimental effect on her health? Yes! How do I know that? Because I witnessed the emotional release that came from giving her permission to stop the obsession.

Vitality is defined as the capacity for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence. Stress and vitality really don’t belong in the same sentence except that stress causes a decrease in vitality. Should we look at the quality of life as our new vital sign? I say yes! Remember that stress will present both emotionally and physically. We cannot avoid stress but we can choose to minimize it.

Here’s to being vital and the option to choose for quality of life.

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