A periodic look at periodontics.
If you're not sure what periodontics is all about, don't worry – you're not alone. Let’s help you put that right.
We’re all aware of those chancers out there who like to dress up their job in fancy terms. A binman becomes a Sanitation Engineer, for example, while a night watchman becomes a Nocturnal Security Operative.
And within our own business, we’re not entirely innocent on this front. And here's why. We regularly make reference to periodontics – even though we know that the vast majority of people may not know what the term means.
So let’s put that right straight away. In very simple terms, periodontics is a subset of dentistry that relates to the structures that surround and support your teeth.
You can see, immediately, why this makes periodontics a very important branch of dentistry. If the gums and other supporting structures ever become seriously compromised, then the entire tooth (or teeth) can easily be lost.
Is periodontal disease common in Ireland?
Yes. Unbelievably so. It's difficult to come up with precise statistics, but up to half the population could be suffering from periodontal problems at at any given time.
If this sounds like a very big claim, then maybe we can explain the reason for this high incidence by telling you that the most common periodontal ailment is humble gum disease. And let’s be honest, most of us are aware that we can get early signs of gum disease after just a few days of neglecting our teeth.
In extreme circumstances, you may notice bleeding of the gums when you brush you r teeth, but there are also some other signs to look out for:
• Inflammation or reddening around the gum area. You may feel this – or you can check it visually by having a good long look in the mirror.
• You may also notice that there’s a certain loss in the bine density around the area of the affected tooth. Again, this is normally pretty obvious to the average man in the street if you check yourself out in the mirror.
What causes this form of disease?
As in many other threats to your teeth, the big problem is bacterial infection. Bacteria multiplies at an unbelievable level of speed, which is why it's so important that you constantly stop it in its tracks by brushing with an antibacterial toothpaste – or using a similar form of mouthwash.
Bacteria that forms around a single tooth can soon spread to neighbouring teeth – if left unchecked. The bottom line is that it gets worse and worse – and can eventually lead to conditions such as a periodontal abscess – or even cause you to lose some of your teeth in very extreme circumstances.
What happens if I catch it early?
Happily, you can reverse early gum disease very easily – simply by ramping up your dental care regime. And remember that your dentist can spot the early signs much better than you can, so this is yet another reason why you should make a six-monthly check-up part of your on-going health maintenance regime.
If you'd like to read a bit more about this subject, this article from Colgate is an excellent place to start - http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/fighting-gum-disease-how-to-keep-your-teeth