The care and treatment we deliver is designed to help our clients have the healthiest outcome possible for their specific situation. The mouth has a great deal to tell us about the rest of your health. In other words, that “little bit of bleeding” when you brush or that gum tissue that stays red or recedes, may have much more of an impact on your overall health than just your teeth.
Our dental team is interested in not only how oral health affects your teeth, as well as how it affects your entire body. It has been established that inflammation and infection in your mouth is connected to serious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, risks associated with pregnancy and pre-term birth, as well as most diseases that have an inflammatory component or vascular system connection. Our dental team is as focused on your general health as we are your dental health.
Our Registered Dental Hygienists are experts at gum disease detection and treatment. Your dental hygienist should no longer be just a teeth cleaner, but a therapist who is diligent in the detection of disease and skilled at keeping inflammation under control. Helping to restore oral health is more about controlling the microbiology that can initiate inflammation and not simply cleaning the teeth. Taking blood pressure, evaluating health histories, performing oral cancer screenings, taking appropriate x-rays, recognizing signs of possible sleep apnea, acid reflux, bruxism, doing DNA saliva testing to determine which specific bacteria are the cause of the infection and CariScreen testing to help determine the risk of future decay are some of the areas essential for optimal care. Of course, critically important is the sharing of knowledge to help educate each client in order that they are able to make important treatment choices and also take the steps necessary for their own appropriate daily home care regimen.
Some Questions About Periodontal Disease
How do you know I have periodontal disease?
During a periodontal examination (which we perform at every dental hygiene visit) we look for signs of disease by measuring the crevice between the teeth and gums, utilizing x-rays for evidence of bone loss around the teeth when needed and by visually looking for signs of swelling, bleeding or infection. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gum and bone structures around the teeth. It often degrades these structures slowly and without pain.
Why haven’t I been told I have periodontal disease before?
Your body changes over time. Just as you may have developed a cavity since your last visit, health changes could have caused you to become more susceptible to the bacteria that cause a gum infection. This can occur throughout your entire mouth or be localized to a smaller area. We evaluate the health of your teeth and the health of your gum and bone support each time you come in for your continuous care visit. Our goal is to recognize periodontal disease as early as possible and help you control it, not only for the best oral health, but so it does not contribute to the deterioration of your overall health.
Can’t you just clean my teeth and leave it at that?
Our goal is to provide excellent oral health care and if we detect a gum infection, we cannot and will not ignore it. The risk to your overall health is too great to let it go untreated. Left untreated, bone is destroyed leading to the need for surgery, tooth loss and is often more difficult to treat, and always more expensive. Nowhere else in the body would we be willing to let an infection get to the point of bone involvement before treatment was recommended. Prevention and early treatment is always the best option.
What is Periodontal Maintenance?
Once you have the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, it is very difficult to control them. The standard of care is to have three to four supportive periodontal therapy visits each year.
This is much more than a regular cleaning. When you return every three to four months for supportive therapy, the long-term outlook for you to keep your teeth becomes positive.
Periodontal disease results in deep pockets between the tooth and gum. Infected areas this deep are not fully accessible by brushing and flossing at home. The bacteria in these pockets needs to be disrupted every 90-120 days to prevent further damage. This is done when the hygienist manually removes the bacterial toxins with special ultrasonic or hand instruments.
Extra skill, care and judgment go into managing your teeth once you have periodontal disease. We pay special attention to exposed root surfaces, areas between the roots of the teeth and we evaluate if the interval between supportive appointments is appropriate for your present level of wellness.
This will always be an important part of your health to understand and keep under control. Managing gum disease is a major way dentistry can contribute positively to your total body wellness.