Th More To Health 01

More to health than health care

Aug. 1, 2009
In turbulent times, your health and vitality are especially critical to your performance.
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by Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
[email protected]

In the July 2009 issue of the Clinically Speaking column, the Web site for PreViser was incorrectly spelled. The correct address is The author had listed the Web site as a good resource for health risk assessments. We regret the error.

In turbulent times, your health and vitality are especially critical to your performance. Exercising vigorously, eating smart, sleeping well, employing relaxation techniques, investing in personal relationships, and cultivating a positive mindset counterbalance the harmful effects of increased stress.

Chronic stress and negativity in the workplace are big contributors to the burden of health-care expenses. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America states: “Health-care reform won’t solve the nation’s health problems — reforms to support healthier choices are urgently needed.”

We are the CEOs of our own health. In fact, according to some of the latest findings, upwards of 70% of our health is under our control. Since preventable health-care costs are projected to reach 50% of government revenue in 20 years, there is more to health than health care.

Here are some reasons to act now, detailed in the Commission’s report, “Beyond HealthCare: New Direction to a Healthier America”:

  • Some of us can expect to live an average of 20 years less than others, depending on our race, ethnicity, and where we live. So zip code may be more important than genetic code.
  • For the first time in our history, the United States is raising a generation of children who may live sicker and shorter lives than their parents.
  • While we spend more than $2 trillion each year on health care — one-sixth of the GDP and more than any other country — our health continues to fall short. In life expectancy and infant mortality, the United States ranks near the bottom in comparison with other industrialized nations.
  • Health-care reform alone will not make the U.S. healthier. For too long, America has focused on treating disease. To be healthy, we must prevent people from getting sick in the first place.
  • Poor health limits the productivity of our citizens. Nearly one in three poor adults is limited by chronic illness. And when people are sick, they can’t perform as well at school, home, or work.

Key recommendations from the Commission’s report are:

  • Give kids a healthy start. Ensure that all children have high-quality education and child care. Evidence is now very strong that early childhood has a tremendous impact on a person’s health over a lifetime.
  • Ban junk food from schools. Feed kids only nutritious foods in schools.
  • Get kids moving. All schools (K-12) should include at least 30 minutes daily for all children to be physically active.
  • Help all families follow healthy diets. More than one in every 10 American households lack reliable access to enough nutritious food.
  • Eliminate so-called nutrition deserts. Create public-private partnerships to open grocery stores in communities without access to healthy foods. For example, Detroit, a city of 139 square miles, has just five full-service grocery stores.

Oral care is health care! After taking charge of our own health, let’s make considerable contributions to the health of our patients, preventing oral diseases via early assessment techniques. Begin with an updated and accurate medical history and review medications.

Blood pressure screenings: IntelliSense® Professional Digital Blood Pressure Monitor, Omron Healthcare, Inc.

Periodontal assessments: Periowise™, Premier; Florida Probe, Florida Probe Corp.; PerioPal Voice Driven Periodontal Charting Software, PerioPal; Oral Health Information Suite, PreViser; Dental R.A.T.

Caries/saliva assessments: CRT Bacteria, Ivoclar; DIAGNOdent, KaVo; CariScreen Caries Susceptibility Test, Oral-Bio Tech

Oral cancer screenings: Orascoptic DK™, Orascoptic; Identafi™ 3000, Trimira LLC; Violight, Zila; VELscope®

Digital radiography: DEXIS® Digital Imaging System, DEXIS; CDR, Schick Technologies, Inc.; KODAK RVG 6100 Digital Radiography System, PracticeWorks Systems, LLC

Self-care products: Power brush: Philips Sonicare, Crest/Oral-B; dental water jets: Waterpik; take-home fluorides/medicaments: 3M ESPE Preventive Care Products, GC America, Dentsply Professional, Preventech

Clinically speaking, “One who has health has a thousand wishes, one who doesn’t has but one.” Investing in your health and that of your patients are the best investments you can make.

About the Author

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS, is a practicing clinician, industry consultant, international speaker, and author. She is the director of the RDH eVillage, an online PennWell Corp. e-newsletter, and is involved in numerous professional organizations. She has authored the book, “Demystifying Smiles: Strategies for the Dental Team.”