Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Talking About Gum Disease And Periodontitis

Talking About Gum Disease And Periodontitis

One of the biggest obstacles to dental health care is the cost of dental services.  But the second mayor obstacle is the lack of information about oral health.  I should rephrase this last statement and say, it is the lack of adequate dental education .

Today I would like to talk a little bit about gum disease or periodontitis.

In the Unites States approximately 70% of adults have some form of gum disease.  Many of these problems have simple solutions, but many also can cause a lot of damage.  This damage affects the gums and the bone around the roots of the teeth,  and can result in the loss of the affected teeth.

Periodontitis is caused by the bacteria that we have in our mouths.  We cannot sterilize our mouths, so we will always have bacteria in it.  Some bacteria is harmless and some is pathogenic and will cause problems.  When we brush our teeth daily, we are reducing the amount of bacteria in our mouth, and if this number is low enough, our body's  defensive mechanisms can keep everything under control and healthy.  Now,,, if I neglect the cleaning of my mouth and teeth for a while, the number of bacteria increase to the point that my body's defenses cannot keep them under control and an unhealthy or disease state develops.

Periodontitis is a silent disease, which means it does not give you a lot of signs that it is present.  There is usually no fever, pain or discomfort associated with it. 
If you brush your teeth and see a little blood on the toothbrush what do you think that means?  Do you think that it is an indication that you are brushing to hard and might be hurting your gums?  In reality, healthy gums don't bleed, and bleeding from the gums usually is a sign of inflamation.  Well, inflamation is the first sign of gum problems.

Inflamation of the gums is called gingivitis, and is the first step towards gum disease or periodontitis.   Gingivitis is many times completely reversible, which means that if you clean your teeth very well daily  and get rid of all the bacterial plaque on them, after a few days, the inflamation will be gone.  This all sounds very good, but bacterial plaque presents another problem.  When I neglect to clean my teeth and plaque builds up, after a few days, that plaque starts calcifying and hardening into something we call calculus or tartar, and then neither the brush nor the floss will be able to remove it.

Another thing that happens with time is that the gums start hardening  and they stop bleeding, causing you to think that everything is ok.  You may think that everything is ok because you are making an effort to clean well every day, but in reality the gums toughen up after  some time and they may stop bleeding.  The hard deposits continue to build up and the bacteria that is present there starts to cause bone loss around the roots of the teeth.  If this bone loss advances enough, the teeth can loosen, drift and eventually even need to be extracted.  A person that looses many teeth in this manner will have to  replace them with a removable denture and will have difficulty chewing normal food for the rest of his or her life unless able to afford costly reconstructions.

It's time to finish this article, but I would like to make sure that the message that I am trying to send is coming  across.

Dentists today are trained in detecting gum problems early, when they are easy to treat with something as simple as a good prophylaxis (cleaning).  Unfortunately, many individuals do not go to the dentist until they feel pain or some type of discomfort, and by then, the damage has advanced to the point that the treatment may require surgery which can be costly and uncomfortable.

The best service that I and other dentists like myself can offer our patients are preventive services.  Even if a person does not have dental insurance and cannot go regularly to the dentist, do not let years go by without an examination and cleaning.  The small cost that you will incur is nothing compared to the cost of treatment when the damage has advanced.

I hope that you have found something useful and somehow benefited from reading this information.
Thank you for reading!

West Palm Beach Dentist
Carlos Boudet, DDS DICOI
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