What is health? The more I thought about health, the harder it was to define.
Obviously health defines a person’s physical, mental or spiritual condition. I looked up health in the dictionary, and it derives from the Old English word hale, meaning wholeness, sound or well. To be healthy is to be whole. Similarly then, well-being is something that one achieves by developing all the health related components of their lifestyle.
Health is a resource for everyday living, but not the objective of living. Health becomes a concept that emphasizes again physical, mental and spiritual resources.
Health is a value, like truth, loyalty and integrity. How we behave is based on what we value.
American Dental Association Policy–Definition of Oral Health:
Oral health is a functional, structural, aesthetic, physiologic and psychosocial state of well-being and is essential to an individual’s general health and quality of life.
This definition seems to sum up what I believe. Ultimately, we define health for ourselves. As we work with our patients, their concept and condition of health may evolve, hopefully improving. We can help them get clearer about their concept of dental health by measuring and evaluating changes in their periodontal, teeth, TMJ/occlusal and overall health.
While health is more than freedom from disease, I can’t seem to get away from the idea that for my patients to create a vision for health for themselves I must help them understand their level of dental disease/risk.
My version of dental health:
“Oral health is a functional, structural, aesthetic, physiologic and psychosocial state of well-being and is essential to an individual’s general health and quality of life. The key components are developing personal responsibility and healthy lifestyle habits; partnering with a dentist to co-discover disease and co-develop a lifetime plan for prevention; and having appropriate dental treatment that is maintainable by the patient with optimal longevity while minimally invasive.”