This year has been a great trial for our country and communities as we all individually made sacrifices for each other. As we approach Memorial Day, I would like to extend my gratitude for all those who together make great sacrifices for our freedom.
With the recent events, it is likely that many faced the situation of delaying their dental care. Our current understanding in dentistry and healthcare in general is that a preventative approach is the best approach, as most dental disease does not improve but only worsens over time. When faced with having to put off dental care, it is even more crucial to address concerns earlier than later, and your dentist will appreciate your proactiveness.
Why the concern? Let’s consider the progression of dental disease. When it comes to tooth decay, it is first observed through routine exams in what is considered incipient decay; one of the few instances that can be reversed with good habits and fluoride use. If the decay spreads within the tooth, it requires repair with a filling. At the point where the decay spreads to the point of pain, this could indicate it has contacted the pulp or nerve of the tooth. At this point, debridement of the pulp is necessary to remove the bacteria during a root canal procedure. Left unchecked further, the tooth could deteriorate beyond restorability, requiring an extraction, or worse, an oral infection could spread from the tooth to the bone causing facial swelling, nerve damage, airway obstruction, and systemic complications due to bacterial spread through the body. Scary, right? Though not my intent to sound an alarm, this is typically your dentist’s concern when attempting to encourage a proactive approach.
A similar “horror story” can be true for gum disease, as well. Plaque along the gum line results in gingivitis that can be alleviated with a routine cleaning. In periodontitis, bacteria that finds its way beneath the gums requires a deeper cleaning. Unchecked, this bacteria can cause inflammation and infection, leading to bone loss around the tooth and eventually tooth loss, not to mention potential systemic diseases from
bacteria that manages its way into the bloodstream.
Though frightening tales, indeed, these are real biological responses to oral disease that are best prevented in early stages. The good news is, there are treatments to treat these anomalies at all stages. So, if you have put off your dental care, get back in touch with your dentist knowing they will be waiting with open arms. Happy Smiling!