We speak with our patients a lot about maintaining routine six month cleanings and exams. We believe in these exams completely, but we know that a very limited number of the population here in Glen Ellyn actually follows the recommended cleaning routine.
Don’t misunderstand, we know that there are many reasons why people avoid the dental office, and we have taken steps to make some of those reasons obsolete. The fact still remains, people don’t see their dentist nearly enough.
This is NOT a scheme to try to get more patients or earn more money. This is about YOU and YOUR HEALTH, both of which are at risk from the gum disease epidemic that we fight in our office each and every day.
We want to talk about gum disease today so that you have a better idea of why this is such an important fight! We’ll share the signs of gum disease as well as the treatment options, but first, we want to let you know what’s at stake.
The Flu has NOTHING on THIS Epidemic
If you pay any bit of attention to the news, you will know that the entire country is at war this season against the flu! The flu vaccine was not as effective as it normally is, which left millions of us at risk, and millions have suffered!
Even this incredible number of flu patients has nothing on the number of gum disease patients we see. Unlike the flu, there is no “season” of infection. We see gum disease each and every day, all year long. We estimate (and research agrees) that about 80-85% of our patients are experiencing some level of gum disease.
So, why does this matter? What’s at stake?
Gum disease infections are more than just gum disease infections. The bacteria from your gums can (and will) move about your body and cause damage throughout. Researchers are still working on exactly what this looks like, but we have TONS of research to support the idea that there is a connection.
For example, a recent study of men’s health found that men with gum disease were 64% more likely to later develop pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Scientists have also discovered p. gingivalis (the bacteria responsible for gum disease) in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
We know that gum disease affects your ability to remain healthy while living with diabetes, can lead to heart disease or heart attack, and is connected with preterm delivery of low weight babies.
You might have been wondering why gum disease is something of concern? This is it. Your health is at risk, and there is one simple way to protect yourself: routine care and appointments.
Knowing the Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease begins completely undetectable for the patient. There is no pain, no discomfort, and nothing that would catch your attention. We see it when you come in for your routine cleaning. We see it because we are looking below your gum line and removing debris that tell us an infection is present.
Note, that is how gum disease BEGINS. Without routine cleanings, gum disease will advance into periodontal disease. At this point, you will notice that your gums are tender, swollen, red, and might bleed when you floss or brush.
If gum disease advances beyond that level, you will begin to see your gums pulling away from your teeth. You might even feel your teeth get loose as you chew your food. These are signs of very advanced periodontal disease and should NEVER be ignored.
Early Treatment Means Early Detection
We keep saying that routine cleanings are really important. Here’s why. When you come in every six months, we remove the bacteria that causes gum disease. If an infection has already started, we simply remove the infection while we are cleaning your teeth! It’s that easy.
We’ll talk with you about some things you can do to protect your gums in the future, but you won’t need any other sort of advanced treatment. We caught the infection early, and you are the one who benefits from that!
Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease
When we don’t see you every six months, the bacteria has the opportunity to work deeper in your gums along your tooth roots. In order to remove the infection, we have to do deep cleaning!
Scaling and Root Planing
The first level of deep cleaning is scaling and root planing. We might be able to accomplish this with a laser, but the process still isn’t an enjoyable one. We have to clean the bacteria from deep along your tooth root and smooth the surface so that bacteria can no longer cling to your teeth as easily.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
In advanced cases of periodontal disease, we might have to recommend pocket reduction surgery. This is reserved for patients whose gums have pulled far from their teeth. They are in a lot of discomfort, but the surgery allows for some easing.
The surgeon will clean the infection away and will then surgically replace your gums around your teeth to end the spread of infection.
Make Your Appointment Today
We know that discussing gum disease isn’t the most pleasant thing, but we hope you can see why it is SO IMPORTANT! Your health and future life is at risk if you choose to do nothing about your gum disease infection.
Don’t let yourself be at risk. Take control of your smile today by setting up a routine cleaning appointment. Even if you are afraid, call anyway! We have sedation options that will make your cleaning the easiest dental experience you’ve ever had! We hope to see you soon!