Our Honest, Conservative Preventive Care
Based upon national averages about 30% of patients have periodontal disease. This number may vary according to the source of the information. However, in my practice with my patients, only 10% of patients have periodontal disease. What is the source of this disparity?
One reason for our having significantly fewer patients with periodontal disease may be due to the area in which we live. This north Dallas area attracts a population with a higher level of education and with a higher socio-economic status. As a result our patients may be better educated and may exercise greater attention to their personal care.
Secondly, we provide care which is honestly necessary. We do hear of patients who have left a dental practice because they were being unnecessarily “sold” on a deep cleaning or a scaling and root planing procedure. Thankfully this does not happen very often. Certainly there are times when a patient does indeed need these procedures. Our patients can feel assured that when we indicate to them that they have periodontal disease it is indeed true.
Lastly, we have statistically fewer periodontal patients because we work very hard to help patients keep current with their care and because we spend the time to show our patients how to care for their teeth and gums. This personalized care that we deliver to all our patients in every facet of our practice enables us to individualize our patient’s preventive care. This leads to greater success in preventing periodontal disease.
Our Oral Cancer Screening Program
Ever since our dental office opened in 1986, we have offered to all our patients an oral cancer visual screening examination with each preventive visit. This reflects our commitment to quality. There are many dental practices which follow the state law indicating that the dentist should examine patients minimally once annually. In our practice, we have always offered these examinations minimally twice annually.
In addition, there are some practices that still are not routinely offering oral cancer visual screening examinations. This is truly unfortunate. Dentists can prevent patients from having serious growths of cancer by early detection. Some of the surgeries for treatment of oral cancer can be tremendously disfiguring, resulting in possibly the loss of jaw bone structure, cheek bone, or even the loss of an eye or the nose.
In 2011, we began to annually offer to our patients the Vizilite cancer screening examination. At the time, that system was the only one scientifically proven to be effective at detecting the existence of cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions before they were even visually apparent. This is a remarkable achievement. The benefit to our patients with this system is that we can detect cancerous lesions much sooner and so any collateral damage can be minimized. This past year, we replaced this system with the VELscope cancer screening examination. This newer system provides the same type of information; however, it has a newer technology which does not require rinsing with a vinegar-like solution, and it has gained worldwide popularity as the most used oral cancer screening system.
Research is showing that young patients who are non-smokers are perhaps even more likely to get oral cancer. We realize this does not make sense. Obviously more research needs to be done to find out what other factors lead to oral cancer. In the meantime, we will continue to annually offer to our patients over the age of 21 this trail-blazing technology that we have available with the VELscope oral cancer screening system.
Steps to Protect Your Oral Health
Careful periodontal monitoring and excellent oral hygiene is important for everyone but especially important for women who may be noticing changes in their mouths during times of hormonal fluctuation. To help ensure good oral (and overall) health, be sure to:
- See a dental hygienist for cleaning at least twice a year.
- You or your dentist may notice problems with your gum tissue. Problems may include:
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Puss between the teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of your dentures or partial dentures
- Keep your dental professionals informed about any medications you are taking and any changes in your health history.
- Brush and floss properly every day. Review your techniques with a dental professional.
The Greatest Cause of Periodontal Disease
Genetics used to be the blame for patients getting periodontal disease. We have had several patients in our practice believe that because their parents had dentures by the age of 40 years old that they too would be destined for the same. While we can understand that makes some sense, scientific evidence does not support that thought.
The second thing thought to be the largest determinant in getting periodontal disease was the quality of oral hygiene and care. It makes a lot of sense that brushing and flossing has a bearing on the health of our teeth and gums. However, even with hygiene being very important, it is still not the largest determinant in one’s getting periodontal disease.
Over the past 10 years or more, the largest factor found to be present in those getting periodontal disease was the habit of smoking. Research has proven that smoking is the most detrimental factor affecting gingival health. This cause and effect relationship is so strong that a patient can have genetics and oral care in their favor to a large degree; however, if the patient is a smoker then the risk of getting periodontal disease is quite high.
Obviously for smokers the battle is that of quitting. We realize this is not an easy endeavor. We sympathize with smokers. We do know many patients have been able to kick the smoking habit. Success in kicking the habit is dependent upon a high level of commitment, an attention to those things that trigger the desire to smoke, and an ability to find another activity to remove one’s focus on smoking. Certainly the support of friends and loved ones increases the chances for success, as does persistance, self-control, and faith.
If you would like us to assist you with your periodontal condition, we invite you to contact us.
Sealants are Great for Children and Adults
Dental sealants have been around since the 1960’s. The purpose of sealants is to prevent the formation of decay from the groove patterns within the teeth as best as we can. Sealants can last for many years if they are well-placed at the dental office and if patients do not eat overly sticky foods which may pull them out. With fluoridated water, dental sealants are the best thing that have happened in preventive dentistry.
The problem with the grooves is that during development of the teeth these grooves may be incompletely formed. The grooves can be too deep and too narrow for even one tooth brush bristle to clean. As a result, no matter how well one may brush, there still may be plaque, bacteria, or food particles present in the bottom of these grooves. Decay in these grooves is quite common. Even with fluoride in the water, decay in these grooves may still occur.
As a result of the presence of these grooves, dental sealants are necessary. In most all cases this procedure can be performed without anesthetizing the teeth. This procedure involves cleaning the groove pattern, assuring there is no decay, microscopically etching the surfaces of the grooves, and then placing a liquid plastic filling material which fills the groove pattern. A bright blue light is then used to cure, or harden, this filling material.
We recommend dental sealants for many children and adults. Since they are so successful at preventing problems, and because we are so meticulous and careful in placing these sealants, patients save much in the way time and money. We are so pleased to be able to offer this service for our patients. If you have an interest in dental sealants, please contact us so we may assist you. Our office number is (972) 250-2580.
Keeping Hydrated with Water
It sure can be hot in the Dallas area. We all know we need to keep hydrated. Our bodies tell us many times of the need for fluids. We may obtain our hydration from many fluids. It is important to understand what is best. I understand water may be tasteless and it does not contain the ingredients we may feel we need to prepare or to recharge. However, water is best for your teeth.
It is boring to consider only water for rehydrating. I understand. But so many fluids may be acidic or they may contain sugars. Consuming other fluids for several hours of time daily over many days may cause problems such as decay or sensitivity. We see this at my office quite often. Water is best for the teeth.
We understand there are other fluids that provide other advantages. We are not asking patients not to take advantage of those fluids. In a relatively short period of time of consumption any fluid of your choice is fine. However, if you will be sipping or drinking multiple times during a sporting event or activity over hours of time, water is the fluid we recommend.
We value your interest in our website. We invite you to visit us at our office if you have yet to do so. Appointments can be made by calling (972) 250-2580.