Monday, July 9, 2012

The Importance of Your Dental Hygienist

ARTICLE FROM DENTAL HEALTH MAGAZINE... Why You Should be Visiting a Dental Hygienist Regularly Your dental hygienist could be your best defense against tooth loss and your best asset in protecting your oral and general health. A dental hygienist is an integral part of the dental team who is specially trained to manage and prevent periodontal (gum) disease and to educate you about keeping your mouth healthy. Periodontal Disease Approximately 75% of tooth loss in adults is caused by periodontal disease, a disease that is totally preventable. It is estimated that 3 out of 4 adults aged 35 and over are suffering from some level of gum disease. With an ever increasing amount of research linking periodontal disease to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer and cancer it has never been more important to know how to look after your mouth. Your dentist assesses your gum health by completing a basic periodontal exam or a BPE, this is done by using a specialised measuring probe to measure the space between the tooth and the gum at specific points around your mouth. The space between the tooth and the gum in a healthy mouth is very small and healthy gums will not bleed when probed. As periodontal disease progresses the bone supporting the tooth is destroyed causing a ‘pocket’ between the tooth and the gum, it’s this that your dentist is measuring and the results of your BPE will determine the type and frequency of hygiene treatment you will require. Gum Disease Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque on the tooth surfaces; this is a thin sticky deposit of bacteria that is constantly forming. If allowed to accumulate, the by-products released by this bacteria cause irritation to the gums and eventually damage to the surrounding tissues. Other factors affecting gum disease include smoking, stress, diabetes, hormonal changes, genetics, medication and nutrition, it is important to note that 50% of all cases of gum disease are caused by smoking. For some people the diagnosis of gum disease can be a real shock as the disease has very few symptoms, many of which people assume to be normal. In the early stages of gum disease you may notice swelling, soreness and/or bleeding of the gums, this is known as gingivitis and is the only reversible stage of gum disease. As the disease progresses it is known as periodontal disease, the inflammation spreads to the deeper periodontal tissues (tissues surrounding the teeth) and eventually to the bone. Symptoms include bad breath, bad taste, tender gums, bleeding, recession, mobility of teeth and eventual tooth loss. If you are a smoker these symptoms may be absent, this does not mean the disease is not present and active. Although periodontal disease is irreversible, your hygienist can halt its progression and help you preserve your natural teeth and restore health to your mouth. To learn more about periodontal disease and how Dr. Sutor's office can help, Follow us on Facebook or visit our website at www.sutordds.com

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