Whenever you brush and floss or visit the dentist, you most likely are focusing on how your teeth are doing. If gums are occasionally tender, what’s the big deal, right? The truth is, your gum health doesn’t just affect your gums. For instance, if you run a quick Google search, you’ll find tons of research that illustrates the link between gum disease and serious conditions, such as heart disease and bacterial pneumonia
Thankfully, the Dental Tribune says that the dental community is making efforts to educate professionals and patients about these holistic health issues:
‘The Future of Oral Health’ Explores Impact of Oral Disease on Whole Body
The impact of oral disease on whole-body health and the changes to the practice of dentistry worldwide are the subjects of “The Future of Oral Heath,” a new publication produced by Scientific American Custom Media, in collaboration with Colgate-Palmolive Company. The issue launched Oct. 21 at the American Dental Association’s Annual Meeting
. . . The publication explores science, policy and new delivery models to better understand the current and future state of the multifaceted oral health field. Within the issue are updates on:
The oral health of a growing elderly population; global health issue of caries and periodontal diseases and the latest industry developments helping to improve access and cost-of-care in these areas.
The state of the science linking oral health and other areas of medicine and changes in the relationships between the dental and medical communities as they slowly de-silo and integrate to deliver better care and greater access for patients.
New tools being employed in diagnostics, biotechnology, and digital health that are advancing care, along with a special look at how dentistry and oral health will be managed in the future.
Philosophies and technologies that have fueled industry changes and ways in which global demographics are mandating more accommodating, on-demand approaches to dentistry that reduce cost and bring care to hard-to-reach populations.
Since the Baby Boomer generation is getting into its senior years, publication like these are vital to help dentists provide better care. Since seniors are more likely to be suffering from arthritis and other health issues, they don’t need to add gum disease to the mix. While seniors may be the go-to demographic in regards to gum disease, younger adults and even some adolescents can be at risk. And since younger patients are more likely to be healthy, they also need to be educated by dentists about how gum disease can negatively influence other bodily systems.
Besides educating different demographics, publications like “The Future of Oral Heath” are shedding light on how dentists can provide alternative services. While some treatments may have beenlimited in the past, advancements in dental care makes it possible for many people to undergo affordable periodontal disease treatment.
But despite the Dental Tribune’s encouraging post about advancements in the dental community, that doesn’t mean you can slack off as a patient. If you have mild gingivitis, you shouldn’t wait around for your dentist to give you a referral for periodontal treatment. A guest blogger on Dentistry IQ further relates some of the issues patients face if they aren’t proactive:
Thirteen years into my dental hygiene career and three periodontal practices later, I am still surprised how people will ignore an issue like periodontal disease. If you were bleeding from anywhere else in your body for 10 or more years, would you not do anything to stop it? There is a perceived “mouth-body” disconnect in the general population, and most will not set foot in our periodontal practice without a healthy nudge from their general dentist. In all of my years practicing, I have had many different general dentists tell me what periodontal disease is or is not, as if I was not trained to diagnose it myself. I had one even tell me that he doesn’t “believe” that periodontal disease has a disease process. He thought some people just get it and others do not. Sounded to me like someone wasn’t having any success treating it and didn’t know what else to do. At that point I thought to myself, “How many hygienists are trying to diagnose inflammation, gingivitis, and trying to treatment plan with this kind of a barrier?”
. . . one final thought I would like to share comes from the American Society for Microbiology: “About 50% of the adult population has gingivitis around three or four teeth at any given time. 30% have periodontitis. Between 5%–15% of those with periodontitis have advanced forms. Another 3%–4% of individuals will develop an aggressive form of periodontal disease, known as early onset periodontitis, between the ages of 14 to 35.”2 Are you [being diagnosed] accordingly?
Although this post also reaffirms the connection between overall health and gum health, it demonstrates the need for take-charge hygienists and patients. Besides tenderness, you should know the other signs of gingivitis so you can let your dentist know promptly. Common symptoms include
- receding gums
- painful gums
- bad breath
- pus in gum pockets
- new gaps
- loose teeth
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can turn into periodontitis, which is the top cause of tooth loss. So if you’ve only been worried about cavities in the past, it may be time to consider your overall oral health.