Dental hygiene is the practice of keeping our mouths clean, healthy and in stable condition. Our registered dental hygienists which you may be unfamiliar with, perform your regular six month dental cleanings. Dental hygiene or dental cleanings focus on preventative care and the prevention of oral diseases and conditions. Ideally, dental cleanings should be done at least every 6 months in conjunction with daily brushing and flossing to maintain optimal oral health.
We understand that dental cleanings may not be as important to some but we believe that is due to lack of education and priority. This is why our hygienists make sure to take their time when discussing your oral health status with you and providing you with home care techniques so at your next visit you hear nothing but good news! There are a few questions to ask yourself and red flags you should pay attention to before pushing back your next dental hygiene appointment.
Have you ever wondered why you spit blood when you are brushing? Bleeding, swollen, tender gums is a sign of gingivitis which by definition is the inflammation of gums due to plaque accumulation. Just like any other body part, inflammation which is swelling, is abnormal. For some reason swollen gums is not viewed as serious. For example we have a swollen eye, it is swollen because there is something more serious underneath causing it and in that case we go see our family doctor. If your eye was bleeding you would seek immediate attention, but what about your gums? Gingivitis is just the beginning to many painful and severe oral conditions which originate from one principal- An unclean mouth.
For many, we were taught in our youth to brush twice a day and floss once a day but were we ever really shown how? Some may argue they have clean teeth based on the outside appearance which usually judged by color. Just because your teeth are white and straight does not guarantee your teeth are healthy. At our office, our dental hygienists incorporate proper brushing and flossing techniques into all our patient care because prevention is our goal. Simple brushing techniques like brushing the tongue side of your teeth and brushing the surfaces we chew on go unnoticed because we don’t see those areas when we smile.
Plaque and tartar accumulation under the gums is very common and as we know gingivitis is the inflammation caused by it. But what happens when that plaque under your gums goes unnoticed and begins to harden? The answer is periodontal disease which is the destruction of the bone that holds our teeth in and is caused by untreated gingivitis. The gathering of bacteria underneath our gums over time becomes so destructive to the point losing our teeth is possible. As periodontal disease progresses you will notice symptoms like persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away, bleeding gums, extremely tender gums, your teeth may start to appear longer and may even become loose. The bacteria work to slowly disintegrate the bone around our teeth leaving us with “pockets” which if you think about pockets are deep, our gums reflect the same with deeper pockets in some areas than others until nothing remains. At this point home care will not suffice; you will need a professional, lengthy dental cleaning and possible referral to a periodontist who is a specialist in periodontal disease and deep pockets.
The main difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease is that gingivitis is reversible whereas periodontal disease is not. Once we have lost bone due to disease we can never reverse that process naturally but simply stabilize and maintain from that point. If you notice puffy, swollen gums, bad breath, you bleed when you brush or you evidently see tartar accumulation you need to seek a professional dental cleaning by a registered dental hygienist to arrest the disease process and put your mouth back into a healthy state. A sad reality for many adults and elderly is that they do not seek the dental care they should simply because they do not know the warning signs, and in most cases they lose their teeth to a disease that is maintainable and originally preventable.
Oral health and general health:The impacts of poor oral health can truly be detrimental to your overall health. Here are some facts you may want to know:
Pregnancy:Low-weight and premature babies are more likely in women with periodontal disease.
Heart disease:Gum disease can increase your risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Mouth bacteria entering the blood stream into the rest of your body can contribute to this.
Lung disease + lung conditions:The risks for lung diseases are increased when you have gum disease. Inhalation of germs and bacteria can directly affect your lungs.
Diabetes:Diabetes and oral health have a direct correlation with one another. The more severe periodontal disease it will contribute to your diabetes and vice versa.
In a country where healthcare and dental care is so prevalent, there really is no reason we shouldn’t make the most of it. If you or someone you know is neglecting their oral health remember that oral health is a part of your overall health. We use our mouths to eat, drink, take medication and much much more, if your mouth is not healthy how can you guarantee the rest of your body is? Let us help you achieve a healthier you.
Ref: Separating Fact from Fiction: use of high level Evidence from Research syntheses to Identify Diseases and Disorders Assoc. with Penodontal Disease - Amir Azarpazhooh, DDS, MSC, PHD, FRCD(C); Award, Tenenbaum, DDS, Dip, Perio, PHD, FRCD(C)-2012.