Gum disease or periodontal disease or gingivitis as it is also called is the number one cause of tooth loss today. The reason you loose teeth from gum disease is because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone, which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque. If the plaque is not removed on a daily basis it will form calculus, which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause periodontal disease.
Bleeding gums are the first sign that there may be a problem with the gums. Puffy, tender red gums are also a sign that there is an infection present. Bleeding gums however are not always present even in severe cases of gum disease. Routine and regular visits to your dentist are the best way of catching gum disease in its early stages before too much damage has been caused. Gum disease will not go away by itself or with improved home care. The only way of removing plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleanings. Once you have had a gum problem you will always be susceptible to recurring problems, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis – every two to three months, unless he or she recommends otherwise.
Fear of the dentist is quite common and many people are as fearful and concerned as you may be. However, because fear of the dentist is so common, your dentist and his/her staff are also well aware of this and are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these fears.
Notify your dental team about your concerns and questions. You will find they are eager to work with you to make your visits pleasant. Asking questions about your mouth and proposed treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and give you an opportunity to become involved in your dental health. Most importantly, remember that your dental team is eager to work with you, not just on you, in order to achieve a mutual goal – maintaining the health of your smile.
Dental x-rays are taken routinely by your dentist. There are many diseases and dental defects, which can not be seen by the naked eye, especially where teeth are concerned. These may include such things as decay under old fillings, teeth trapped below the gums, cavities between the teeth, bone loss as a result of gum disease and changes in either jaw bone structure which can be affected by many systemic diseases.
If you are a new patient, your dentist may recommend x-rays to check the current status of your mouth and to check for hidden problems. Upon your first visit to the dentist he or she will usually take those x-rays that will be necessary to comprehensively assess your oral health. A full series of x-rays usually consists of 14 – 18 films. A Panoramic x-ray film showing a much greater area of your jaw bones may be needed as well in order for your dentist to comfortably and competently examine you. Every six months or so your dentist may take a small series of x-rays consisting of four to six films. A six-month period is a long time in the life of a cavity and it is for this reason that a visit to the dentist every six months is so important.
Some people tend to have a rather strange attitude towards checkups. If the dentist does not find something wrong, their time has been wasted. As a matter of fact, a series of successful visits can discourage them from ever seeing their dentist and hygienist again. The idea that you should only see the dentist when something is wrong is not only ridiculous but can end up costing you a lot of money, discomfort and time.
Your dentist is trained to detect and treat many problems before you are even aware of them. The goal is prevention – prevent disease, decay and tooth loss. Your dentist can help you but only if you make the appointment. It all comes back to teamwork. Only you, your dentist and your hygienist can determine how often to make a visit, but for most people, twice a year is sufficient. Checkups should not be a one-time event. They are necessary for regular assessments of the condition and the well being of your mouth. Check-up procedures vary with each dentist, but basically will contain: a review of dental and medical history, an overall examination of the mouth including oral cancer screening, a professional cleaning, possibly a fluoride treatment, and a general assessment of hygiene at home. Regular checkups are a MUST in the fight against gum disease.