IF someone offered you the chance to live another 4,006 days– that is just under 11 years to most of us – would you be interested?
Dentist Richard Guyver has just published his first book titled Live Another 4006 Days and Improve Your Health with Dental Medicine.
The aim is to bring information on the link between oral health and other medical conditions into the public arena.
“A lot of the stuff in the book I spoke to patients about and members of the public,” said Richard who runs the enVisage dental clinic, in Emsworth, and is a partner at the new Centre for Dentistry, in Chichester.
“I have done a couple of talks to diabetes groups and chambers of commerce and they always came up afterwards and said ‘I didn’t know that’.
“There’s a lot of great research and work being done in educational institutes, but then it gets stuck there. I am trying to bring it into the public domain and bridge that gap.”
The book lists a whole host of conditions which can be linked to oral health. First is diabetes, but there are also chapters including lung disease, dementia, cancer, arthritis and complications during pregnancy.
“It was pretty much just diabetes that was talked about back in the early 1990s,” he said. “But every year something else gets added to the list.
“It is quite surprising the number of conditions where the mouth can have an impact.”
So how did Richard come to the title calculation of an extended lifespan of 4,006 days by improving oral health? In the book, he explains he did some research into the average life expectancies of people with various diseases and compared them to the current average life expectancy of 85 to 89 years old (based on 2010 statistics in the UK).
He then took the average reduction in lifespan of eight conditions, including diabetes and emphysema, all of which have a reduced likelihood of developing if the patient has good oral health.
The average of these averages is 4,006 days. While he accepts the calculation does not stand up to strict mathematical scrutiny, he says the principle is sound.
Richard started his book last autumn, assembling research from different branches of medicine and dentistry and then trying to write in a way which could be easily understood.
“That is a challenge that all medical professionals deal with every day – how do we say it in the right words. It is quite difficult sometimes to come up with a real-world example.
“That was one of the challenges, but it does make you think about how you talk to people in a way they will understand.”
Richard has had almost 20 years to practise communicating with patients. He started his dental training in 1994 and became fully qualified in 2000.
When asked why he was first attracted to dentistry, he said: “I don’t know if I can really answer that. It is just one of those things I just set in mind at a very early age.
“My mum said at age ten I said ‘I want to be a dentist’ and I stuck with it. I always liked going to the dentist, which I know is a bit strange.”
His book aims to teach readers four main things: how the body and mouth interact, how to save money on dental care, how to have a healthier mouth and how to reduce the risk of medical conditions.
He describes its publication as a ‘whole new experience’.
“People are more likely to approach you, it definitely makes you feel proud having done something like this, but you do have to be quite motivated to go through all the edits and everything,” he said.
“It was a really interesting process, you don’t really know what goes into publishing a book until you do it.
“It is exciting and I am proud to have done something that is hopefully going to be a bit of a legacy, although obviously the book will need updating as new links are discovered.”
He credits his wife, Kate, with whom he has two sons, Matthew and Will, with helping him remain disciplined while writing the book.
“She has been a great help in keeping me motivated,” he said.
As well as writing a book on the link between oral health and wider health, Richard is also the founder of the Diabetes and Dentistry Organisation (DADO) which he set up 18 months ago.
The organisation focuses on the proven link between mouth inflammation and the increased risk or decreased ability to control diabetes. It offers information for the public as well as training courses for health-care professionals.
“Again, that was set up for similar reasons,” he said.
“For many years there have been known links between diabetes and the mouth. There is an increased risk of getting diabetes if the mouth is not looked after.
“Equally, if you have diabetes, it is harder to control sugar levels which can affect oral health.
“However, the dental profession doesn’t have a great track record of letting people know what the links are. This is stuff I think a dentist should be mentioning.
“We are talking about prevention of disease which is a very hard thing to do. Everyone knows they shouldn’t smoke, drink too much and should live healthily, but we don’t always do it.
“This is trying to get people to do it. It is all part of a prevention message.”
Richard’s book is available to buy from Amazon or from his own website www.4006days.com.
Observer readers buying the book from Richard’s website can get it for the reduced price of £7.75 by entering the code CHIO BS4006.