The U.S. health care system keeps medical and dental treatment in different silos, separated by location and payers. Maybe it shouldn't.
As we report in this issue, researchers are increasingly proving the link between oral and overall health. Studies have found connections between poor oral health and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
In the face of this evidence, medical and dental providers in the state and Region are joining forces. In Northwest Indiana, some federally qualified health centers offer mental and dental care under the same roof. And Indiana recently became the last state to approve reimbursement for pediatricians who provide fluoride varnish.
"If we're going to reduce costs for patients and give them a better experience ... we all need to work together," said Dr. Isaac Zeckel, chief dental officer for HealthLinc.
-Giles Bruce, Get Healthy co-editor
That winning smile is only the beginning of sound health, as Region dentists and internists explain. The mouth is the gateway to overall well-being, making a more integrated approach to health care a must. Worry, if done right, also figures into the equation.
Of course, physical fitness is also important. Humans, it turns out, do not have a finite amount of energy to be saved and savored. Exercise is vital, and we offer tips and programs for everyone on up to seniors. Golf, by the way, does count, Mr. President.
It's back-to-school time, so we look at establishing good eating habits — in the lunch bag and cafeteria. Think whole grains, lean protein and lots of fruit and veggies.
Equally important is reading to your children — from birth if not before. As Beth Heise, a speech pathologist at Ingalls, points out, “Reading out loud to children is essential to their development of vocabulary, language, imagination, all of that.” Anything will do: books, packages, road signs.
So remember, brush, floss, exercise and read to your kids. You can start with this issue of Get Healthy.
-Mary Jane Grandinetti, Get Healthy co-editor
ON THE COVER
Photo by Tony V. Martin
Healthy lunches are where it's at with fresh fruit and veggies, lean meats and cheeses, whole-grain flat breads and crackers and hummus.