Mary’s Dillemma

If your gums bleed when you brush you probably have periodontal disease. Is that bad? Yes, very. You could lose your teeth, and as many studies suggest, possibly damage your heart and other vital organs as well. And what’s worse, there’s usually little or no pain to warn you of how dangerous this situation really is. Bacteria responsible for periodontal disease have been cultured from brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients, from artery walls of folks with heart disease and from lung tissue. Our interstate capillary system is incredibly efficient transporting not only nutrients, but also pathogens to our most distant, and seemingly unrelated, organs. If you saw blood on your hair brush, you would worry, right? Worry should also be our response to blood on the tooth brush. But there’s another factor to consider.

A couple of days ago I met a young woman (let’s call her Mary), who scheduled an exam with me to discuss a dental problem. We talked a bit, and I asked her why she was here, what could I do for her? Mary was worried. She recently began noticing blood on her toothbrush. When I examined her mouth IT WAS SPOTLESS. Mary brushed twice a day without fail. She used dental floss, not every day, but most days. Her gums were pink and had good texture. All signs of health. And two years ago, she was professionally treated for gum disease. Mary thought she was cured. But now the bleeding was back.

Mary had a high dental IQ. She knew what blood meant, and she was worried. Probing a bit deeper, she said her last hygiene visit (cleaning) was about a year and a half ago. Since she scrubbed her teeth so well, Mary assumed that should take care of things. After a thorough exam, she was shocked to learn that many teeth had 6 mm pockets. In English, that means approximately 50% of Mary’s roots were re- infected with periodontal disease. And much of the bone holding the teeth in her mouth was beginning to thin out and wash away… a dental type of osteoporosis. But here’s what Mary, and so many others like her, miss: once gum disease starts it is almost IMPOSSIBLE TO CURE. Sort of like diabetes, we can CONTROL it but it’s tough to CURE.

I tell patients they’ve become allergic to plaque, the fuzzy film that sticks to our teeth. Even a little bit can be deadly. Research proves once gums develop that initial infection, the plaque must be professionally removed at 2 or 3 month intervals for tooth survival. Certainly brush all you want, but that tiny bit of plaque that sneaks under the gums…. the stuff your brush can’t get to… that’s, what does us in. It must be PERIODICALLY AND CONSISTENTLY REMOVED COMPLETELY! Find a good Hygienist. Schedule cleaning your teeth along with salon appointments, manicures and changing the oil in the pickup.

Hygienists don’t clean teeth to make them bright and shiny. Certainly that’s part of it. But what they’re really after is the bacteria-infested plaque under your gums. Dentists haven’t put enough SPIN on the benefits of regular hygiene appointments. To call it a CLEANING is akin to describing natural child birth as STIMULATING! That is a gross understatement to say the least. The hygienist’s function, more properly labeled, should be described as DECONTAMINATION. Noticing blood on your toothbrush? When was your last DECONTAMINATION appointment?

Stay well …Dr. Bill Ardito, Sunshine Dentistry AZ

(520) 761-1600

855 W. Bell Road, Suite 600

Nogales, AZ 85621

April 2012, article published in the Nogales International

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Sunshine Dentistry AZ

855 W Bell Rd.

(520) 761-1600
The Sunshine Dentistry AZ Team