Salutogenesis: The Study of How We Can Create Well-Being

If you’re like most people, you spend a fair amount of time trying to avoid illness and disease. As with a child’s dot-to-dot book, you follow the dots from the first number to the end point. In the dot-to-dot book of disease, you find that advanced gum disease connects to diabetes, for instance, and missing teeth connect to heart attack, stroke and death.

Stand back and look at the big picture, and things can seem a bit messy, especially when you notice your lack of exercise connects to obesity before obesity crosses the line back to diabetes.

If you stare at the dots long enough you begin to see a pattern. You’ve heard about study after study. You’re intelligent. You can connect the dots. If you’d just do this or that, you could avoid disease, or at the very least, stop its progression. But just when you think you understand how to reclaim your health, the professor of global public health at the University of Strathclyde, Sir Harry Burns, shows up to say, whoa, not so fast! Burns thinks we’re looking at health with blinders on – that there’s more to health than just avoiding illness and disease, more than a simple “if this, than that” formula. Burns believes relationships and compassion go a long way toward systematic health.

Rather than following the standard practice of medicine called pathogenesis, the study of pathogenic diseases and their causes, Sir Burns embraces Antonovsky’s salutogenic model as a theory to guide health promotion. Salutogenesis is the study of how well-being can be created.

As a holistic dental office, this approach mirrors our own. Sure we want to see you improve your oral health, and yes, we can dispense information about how to get there. But if we don’t put our recommendations in context with you and your lifestyle, we may both fall short of our goals. Rather than just telling you what you “should” do, the focus shifts. We are committed to your whole health, to connecting the dots that develop your your big picture.

If Antonovsky’s theory, and Sir Burns’ researched interpretation of disease is correct, illness is more than a bad habit that acts as a pathogenic bloom in the body. It is, among other things, the compilation of every aspect of our lives.

Given that scenario, if we are searching for health and well-being, we must learn to recognize where we have been, begin where we are, and move forward to the best, healthiest, version of ourselves possible. Though each of us can develop a wellness theory of our own, an action plan may require that we enter into a relationship with professionals like us who specialize in recognizing the  bigger picture.

Image by Sonja Alves, via Flickr