Dentistry today has evolved significantly. There is no longer a divide between dental health and your general medical health. As a result of this "cross over", patients are receiving a more comprehensive and holistic approach to managing their medical conditions. It is not uncommon for a cardiologist to refer their patients to the dentist for a "cleaning" prior to any heart treatments. Pregnant woman are reminded by their obstetricians to visit their dentist more frequently during pregnancy to avoid the possibility of a pre-term newborn.
Why is there an interest today in how the mouth affects the body? Because current studies show that 40% of people with gum disease are more likely to have a chronic medical condition on top of their gum disease.
You may ask, "How can something that goes wrong in the mouth affect the body"? This is an excellent question and the answer is quite simple. The bacteria, plaque, and food debris that accumulates in the mouth can cause the gums to become infected. When this happens, your body's defenses kick in and cause inflammation. When gums are inflamed (gingivitis) or worse when they become diseased ( periodontitis) they bleed. The bacteria from the mouth enters the blood stream and is then introduced throughout the body. This bacteria can cause a plethora of problems. It can cause prosthetic knee and hip replacements to fail, can lead to premature births, and can even attack the muscles of the heart in a person with a pre-existing heart condition.
How can we prevent this disease process or how can we cure it? Visiting our office 2 to 4 times a year as prescribed by Dr. Vitale or your hygienist will help but what you do at home is the key to sustaining long term health. Brushing and flossing are usually all you need but in the case of gum disease you may be prescibed a medicated anti-bacterial mouth rinse and/or a prescription fluoride toothpaste. Other dental adjuncts such as proxabrushes, rubber tip stimulators, floss handles and a tongue scraper may also be added to your daily regiment. Soft tissue management is aimed at curing the early stages of gum disease. This involves a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing. In more advanced cases, a gum specialist called a periodontist, may be needed. In our office we perform a comprehensive gum evaluation on all patients. We have a periodontist on staff to address any gum problems as they arise.
Let's work together as a team with you as a co-therapist to prevent and treat gum disease. It may save your life!