Just got back from a routine dental hygiene visit, and I flunked for the first time in 36 years. It was so embarrassing!! Nothing had changed, I'm still brushing with my Sonicare toothbrush (which forces you to brush for at least 2 minutes), and flossing everyday. It had been 7 months since my last visit, but still! What was I doing wrong? I now had some gum recession in my rear teeth & the periodontal probe was now going down around 4 millimeters, instead of the usual 0-2
Milos Pesic explains it in his article: How to Detect Periodontal Disease, excerpted here:
One important factor that indicates the severity of periodontal gum disease in an individual is the size of the pockets that surround the teeth. Deeper pockets mean a more serious gum disease. Healthy gums have pockets not exceeding 3 millimeters. If it reaches 3 to 5 millimeters or even deeper, this means tartar has invaded the area underneath the gum line. In this condition, there will be apparent bone loss and gum recession.
My dentist explained that all things change with age, including our teeth & gums. While brushing & flossing had worked for me for 58 years, now they just weren't doing the job! The embrasures, or the spaces between my teeth had changed shape, so I could floss all day long & I still wouldn't remove all the dental plaque that accumulates over the day.
Unremoved plaque is a plaque magnet for more & more plaque that can turn into hardened calculus, leading to inflammation & eventually the DREAD PERIODONTAL DISEASE, if left untreated.
Now I needed new tools to keep my teeth clean and healthy. I was given a nifty blue plastic G.U.M. Proxabrush, which is a tiny brush that I can move in out of the spaces between my "problem" back teeth, the ones with the 4 millimeter pockets. This is followed up with some Oral B Superfloss, which looks like regular floss, but has a five inch fuzzy section to really clean "where regular floss can never reach."
This time I got "demoted" to seeing the dentist every 3 months, instead of every 6. My dentist made me feel better when he said he's had to use the G.U.M. Proxabrush along with something called a rubber-tipped stimulator (a tool to firm up his gums), for years now. Just brushing and flossing had stopped working for him, too. He's also on the every 3 month schedule, as well.
So once more, I've got another "something else to do" on my list of daily to-dos. Oh well. If I want to keep my teeth, I have no choice.
As I left the office I picked up a copy of an article on dental health from WebMD the Magazine July/August 2007.
I've read for years about the connection of oral health to heart disease and osteoporosis, but here it was staring me in the mouth.
Here's what the magazine had to say:
-more than 90% of systemic conditions such as heart disease are linked to symptoms in the mouth-your dentist can draw an important connection between your oral health and your overall health-
-poor oral health could increase your chances of heart disease-more so than the usual suspects of cholesterol and triglyceride levels-
"We think it's the bacteria, or the inflammatory response from the bacteria, that might cause inflammation of the heart and more plaque buildup in the blood levels," says Rick Kellerman, MD, predisent of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
I'm not taking any chances. I'll be sure to report back after my 3 month checkup in April!