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Periodontal disease is one of the most undiagnosed, misunderstood, and confusing diseases in the dental world. The American Heart Association has written multiple articles on this topic. I have had transplant patients or others with severe illness, diabetic complications and so forth whose physicians required exceptional oral health prior to any invasive procedures and/or treatment plan execution. The preparation on the Dentist’s side may involve multiple extractions, periodontal treatment, or other measures to prevent post transplant infection and successful treatment of an injury, burn, or other illness.
The backlash associated with this is that many Dentists have failed to acknowledge Periodontal disease in concern of “losing or angering patients,” and continued to perform a basic “prophy.” A prophy is a cleaning completed on someone who has healthy tissue and gums, no bone loss, and who doesn’t have pathological bacteria harvesting below the gum line. The latter patient cannot remove this bacteria during home care because it manifests itself in a “pocket,” which has formed due to bone loss around the tooth and several millimeters below the gum line. Without treatment, the bacteria will ultimately continue to reduce the bone support that holds the teeth in your mouth.
Inevitably, at some point, the patient will notice mobile teeth, halitosis (bad breath) and general discomfort. Frequently over the course of my career I have heard this: “I have been to the dentist regularly to get my teeth cleaned. How has this happened?” Patients with diagnosed PD require approximately 4 visits to the dental office per year, so that the hygienist can clean the “pockets” that you wouldn’t be able to treat at home. It is unethical and negligent not to treat this condition appropriately; you may have the most beautiful, cavity free teeth but if they are increasingly loose, infected, and falling out, you will end up with those same beautiful teeth, in your hand, your sandwich, or under your pillow.
“… the health of your mouth could affect the health of your whole body. More and more evidence shows a strong association between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, poor pregnancy outcomes, and other conditions. Some early research has even found a higher risk for certain cancers.” AHA.
We evaluate your gums, bone health, and plaque. No, we do not over diagnose, or think of Periodontal Disease as someway to increase capital. It is a real disease, with real treatment needed. I felt that this needed to be addressed, thank you for reading. ON a personal note, I am pre-diabetic, and if I had Periodontal disease, I would do as much research as I could.
Dr. Natalie Neu