The dental health of our teeth and gums are incredibly important for both general wellbeing and oral health.
Gum disease affects 20% of the adult population and is the commonest cause of tooth loss in the world today. The disease destroys the attachment between the gum and the tooth, destroying the underlying bone as it does so. This break down in attachment leads to the development of deep pockets which are inaccessible to daily cleaning and eventually harbour chronic infection causing abscesses and increased mobility of the teeth. This process is usually painless in the early stages and, without careful assessment, can go undetected for many years. By the time symptoms develop it is often too late to save all the teeth so early detection and treatment are the key to long term success.
The treatment of gum disease depends on the severity of the disease along with the susceptibility of the individual to the disease and their age at the time of diagnosis. The treatment can vary from simple oral hygiene instruction through to surgical procedures aimed at the eradication of deep pockets that have not responded to normal treatment. Gum disease is usually much worse in patients who smoke and is also strongly affected by the presence of diabetes. Current research is looking at the links between gum disease and coronary artery disease and diabetes and it seems that active untreated gum disease can have a negative impact on both of these conditions.
If the disease is in an early moderate stage then the hygienist is often best suited to provide most, if not all of the treatment. Once the disease is more advanced (pockets deeper than 6 mms that bleed when probed) then treatment with a periodontal specialist is indicated. Patients with higher than expected probing depths and bleeding scores often require a specialist assessment even if there is no advanced disease evident. This is because certain individuals are more susceptible to gum disease than others and early treatment will benefit them greatly.
We do not think in terms of curing gum disease but with appropriate treatment and maintenance we can control it make sure it does not worsen. The most important factor for success long term is patient compliance. Any individual who wants to treat their gum disease needs to be able to clean their teeth on a daily basis to a much higher than normal standard. Teaching these techniques and reviewing their success is a vital part of the treatment and they need to be mastered before active treatment can begin. Regular review visits will be required through out life to ensure that these cleaning techniques are maintained to prevent recurrence of the disease.
Comprehensive care means that we are centring our treatment on the patient’s ability to take control of the health of their mouth. To give every patient the best chance to do this we will carry out each review visit with one of our hygienists and the dentist as well when appropriate. At each review we will look at all aspects of dental health including a full oral cancer screening check, a full assessment of the gum health paying particular attention to how this maybe both affected by and affecting the patients general health and a full review of the dental condition and how it may be affecting the patients ability to achieve full dental health.
We now know that gum disease is intricately linked to general health and can have an affect on, among other things, coronary heart disease, type two diabetes and pre-term birth weight. We also know that gum disease can be worsened by general health problems in particular stress which can lead to rapid periods of breakdown in the attachment between gum and tooth, as well as lifestyle choices such as smoking. By centring our care on prevention and viewing the patients dental health as an extension of their general health we are able to catch problems at the earliest possible stage, so preventing further damage and disease.
The improvements in the service that we are now providing require that we spend more time with each patient, which also gives us every opportunity to discuss and demonstrate all the techniques that can be used at home to prevent further disease. Under the current guidelines from the General Dental Council and NICE, the institute for Clinical Excellence, we are required to inform patients of all aspects of their dental health and offer all available treatment options to allow each person the chance to make an informed choice about their dental care. Our extended review visits with both hygienist and dentist give us the ability to do this in a relaxed and friendly environment. It is our aim to give each patient a plan so they can know everything that is needed to get you back to complete health. Each patient can then decide what level of care is appropriate to him or her.
A periodontal specialist is a dentist who has undergone further training and qualifications in the field of gum disease and have limited their practice to the provision of this work. The Periodontal specialist for StoneRock is Arwa Al-Khaburi.
We are very excited about the care that we now provide and are looking forward to helping all of our patients on their pathway to complete dental health.
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