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Posts for tag: new year's resolutions

By Bill Kuttler, DDS
January 13, 2016

I am writing this in Door County while intermittently gazing at the beautiful water of Green Bay. It has been a very serene Christmas for my wife Sharon and me – restful and a bit contemplative. And as I’ve been sitting here (not being terribly active), I’ve thought a lot about resolutions or “goals” as I often think about them. I have some friends who are very goal oriented – they make lists, check them twice (just like Santa!), and then go charging out and accomplish them. And I have some other friends that I doubt ever make a list. I like them all, AND I think that they all are living the lives they are meant to live and are being “successful” both in their own eyes and those of the people around them.

To add to the complexity of thinking about resolutions, I’m very aware that I’m married to a wonderful woman who loves to set goals for ME. And I’m pretty aware (after 36 wonderful years of marriage) that neither of us expects that to work very well.... But I do observe that happening a lot in various kinds of relationships – people setting goals for other people. And I suspect it has roughly the same success rate, at least on average.

So what does this have to do with dentistry (since I think that’s what this is about)? I think there’s a point or two to be made here, if you’ll hang with me. We see both kinds of people in our office every week. Some come in as new patients with a list of things they want to accomplish. They are usually easy to work with because they know what they want, and we can help them achieve it – then we’re all happy. Others arrive because they know dental health is important (or their spouse or parent does), but they really haven’t given it much thought. These folks are more challenging to work with, but when we can help them clarify what they want and then help them accomplish it, we all feel really great! That’s fun for us (and usually for them as well)!

Are we helping them make resolutions? Maybe. Do they think about it that way? Almost certainly not. But when we listen deeply to them, give them feedback about what we’ve heard, listen some more, and repeat as needed, we do help them clarify what they’d like for their mouths and their smiles. And then we help them achieve it. I’m pretty sure they aren’t setting goals, at least as it is conventionally thought about, but I know that we’re helping them achieve things that they value. And to me it is what they value that’s important.

So what does this have to do with a “revolution” that is in the title? In my experience as I visit my doctors and watch my dental colleagues help people, our approach is a revolution. By our training we doctors (no matter what type of degree we have) are educated to fix what we see is “wrong”. And that is often a blessing. But sometimes we need to pause and listen, often for an uncomfortably long time for us before we move forward into the “fix it” stage. Because sometimes we are trying to fix something that the person we’re trying to help doesn’t want fixed or isn’t particularly concerned with. Again, that person who I love and live with points that out to me all of the time. I’m often into fixing things for her that she can handle just fine on her own, thank you very much!

So my resolution for the coming year is to listen longer, more actively, and better. Is that a goal? Based on what I know about goals being measurable, I don’t know. But I know it will help my relationships with everyone I come in contact with – especially, perhaps, and I hope, my wife!

I wish you all a wonderful and blessed New Year filled with many opportunities to be helpful to your family, friends, and strangers as well! I pray for listening, tolerance, patience, understanding, and peace in each of our lives and in the world. THAT would be a revolution!

By Bill Kuttler, DDS
January 16, 2014

At this magical time of the year, we all seem somewhat more open to “starting over.” I know a lot of people who start out on a new diet, a new exercise program, or various other “new” ideas to improve themselves and their lives. New intentions for better, healthier lives are good no matter when they occur, so I think all this attention to new beginnings is great.

My experience leads me to believe that most of us need coaches or a supportive group around us to help us stay on track. Two years ago when I was getting ready to ride RAGBRAI, I had a personal fitness coach tailor a program for me, and IT WORKED! What made it work was more than just the program she designed for me – I was accountable to Nicole Hutchison every week or so. Every time she saw me, she monitored my progress and tweaked my program to help me keep improving and on track. When July came, I was confident and ready, and I thoroughly enjoyed my RAGBRAI experience. I don’t think I would have had the same result without her!

So who is on your health coaching team? And what are your goals for the new year? If you’d like to prevent problems before they occur or become major, starting sooner rather than later is always a good idea. I’d suggest that one of your best coaches may be someone you wouldn’t suspect. Your dentist and dental hygienist may be valuable resources, and I’m not just talking about your dental health!

These dental health professionals can be valuable resources for your general health as well. They can help you prevent problems that can affect your total health and give you some early warnings about other health issues.

Here is a list of health concerns that are related to your dental health:

  • Research has shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. There is also research that points to a possible relationship between oral infections and strokes. While no one would claim that a healthy mouth will grant you immunity to either heart attacks or strokes, it seems likely that you can lessen your risks simply by having a healthy mouth.
  • There are also studies that have shown a relationship between Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and gum disease.
  • There are also proven connections between gum disease and premature delivery of babies and low birth weight in those babies. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, here is another reason to have a healthy mouth. And it is far easier to get your mouth healthy before you become pregnant and then keep it that way, than it is to try to accomplish it after you are pregnant! (The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy make it more likely that gums will swell and bleed when they aren’t in very good health).
  • Diabetes is a chronic disease that is often missed in its early stages. Yet the earlier it is detected, the sooner it can be treated and its effects on your body minimized. When we see someone with chronically bleeding gum tissue who says they are doing everything we suggest, we recommend that they be seen by their medical doctor and tested to see if there is a diabetic condition. More than once the results have come back positive, and once that disease was controlled, the person’s mouth became healthy and free of bleeding. What a great a win-win! I don’t believe that the gum disease they had was caused by the diabetes nor do I believe that their diabetes was caused by their gum disease, but I’ve certainly seen a link. Some research has clearly shown that diabetes is difficult if not impossible to control in the presence of gum disease, but once the gum tissue is healthy, the diabetes is easily controlled.

If you want to get or stay as healthy as possible, select a good team of coaches to help you succeed. And I encourage you to include your dentist and dental hygienist as part of that team! When your coaches can blend their knowledge with years of experience and wisdom combined with a deep understanding of you and your goals, they can help you achieve those goals and more. They can help you accomplish more than you ever thought possible and improve your dental health as well!

This article originally appeared in Dubuque 365ink magazine. It is republished with permission from the publication.