As some of you know, in our practice we have three very talented and experienced dental hygienists. All three of them are exceptionally good clinicians and we (Dr. Joe and I) like to think we have the BEST hygiene department in the city of Charlotte, maybe the state of North Carolina! Anyway, All three of them frequently get asked the same questions and so we decided to post them on our blog. Hopefully, this post will be of some help to you if your are a current patient, or maybe just looking for answers.
1. “Why do I have to have “x-rays” taken every year? Aren’t too many x-rays dangerous?” X-rays or radiographs are needed to properly diagnose conditions in the mouth and to ensure that your examinations are thorough. Many problems cannot be detected by simply looking inside your mouth. Yes, too many x-rays can be dangerous. That is why we follow the guidelines set forth in the research and use digital technology. X-rays that have to be developed using chemicals require significantly higher doses of radiation (up to 10 times more). The x-rays we use take so little radiation that you are more likely to get more taking a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta.
2. “Why does the dentist and hygienist want to know so much about my general health and all the medications/supplements that I may be taking?" Many health conditions and medications can cause or increase the deterioration of your teeth, jaw bone and gums. Some medications and previous surgeries/hospitalizations may require the dental staff to postpone or alter your dental treatment for the safety of your general health.
3. What's the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis "gum disease?" Gingivitis is an inflammatory condition or infection in the gums. This is the first stage of periodontal disease but the condition is reversible. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease involving the gums and supporting structures (jaw bone) of the teeth. If not treated, it can lead to tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.
4. "I've been going to the dentist regularly all my life but the hygienist thinks I have gum disease." How can this be possible, especially since I was just there 6 months ago and nothing was mentioned?" Periodontal disease can strike at any age, even adolescents can contract it. The disease is affected by many factors and significant deterioration can occur in as little as 4 months time.
5. "Is there a cure for periodontal disease?" There is no cure, but the disease is treatable and it must be managed and monitored after treatment. The severity of the condition determines how it will be treated and managed.
6. "What causes periodontal disease?" There are many conditions/factors that can cause periodontal disease to become active.
Nutritional disorders and deficiencies
Psychological (emotional) factors, stress, fatigue and anxiety
Metabolic diseases (ie. diabetes)
Blood diseases and disturbances (ie. anemia, leukemia)
Poor oral hygiene
Clenching and grinding of teeth
Smoking and tobacco usage
Inadequate dental treatment
Unreplaced missing teeth (shifting and drifting of teeth adjacent to the spaces)
7. "How do you treat periodontal disease?" Periodontitis can be treated surgically or non-surgically. We treat periodontitis non-surgically. However, some patients may need to be referred to a specialist as well as after their treatment if the disease is in it's advanced stages. Typically, a series of appointments is scheduled with a hygienist who uses special instrumentation, ultrasonics and antimicrobials to clean the bio film which contains bad bacterial deposits from the gum pockets.