A lot of patients still think dentists are mainly important to get rid of cavities, but 21st century dentistry is focused on preventing and treating gum disease or periodontitis. Most of us grew up without understanding much about why it’s so important to keep our teeth and gums healthy. In fact, a third of adults don’t even see a dentist once a year (twice should be the minimum). You want to make oral health a top priority because unchecked infections can become painful and expensive.
When I opened Wilshire Smile Studio in 2002, I was shocked to find that 40% of our new patients had not even had what is called a perio probe. That’s a simple way of measuring whether someone has infected gums and the extent of it. As a Los Angeles dentist, I had thought the local dental schools and Hollywood’s emphasis on having a nice smile would make almost everyone aware of the importance of good dental health.
The way infection starts is if you don’t brush and floss the right way every day. A sticky film of bacteria builds up on the teeth and hardens, called plaque, which has to be removed with special tools by a dental hygienist. If it isn’t taken off quickly, your gums will become infected and pull away from the teeth they hold in place. You won’t feel pain up to this point, but your gums may look red and swollen and will bleed easily when you floss or brush.
And unless you have a (safe) digital x-ray, you won’t know what is happening to the roots of the teeth and the bone they are anchored in, but eventually, periodontitis leads to the need to replace loose teeth with implants or bridges to avoid deterioration of the jaw. In advanced cases (even though you won’t feel any pain), a bone graft might even be needed.
Fortunately, if you spend just two minutes twice a day properly brushing and flossing (see www.ladentist.com under Patient Resources for instructions), you can avoid these problems. And the good news is that even if you get into trouble, our Los Angeles dentist and dental hygienist team are able to use a variety of techniques and advanced tools to repair the damage and restore you to optimum oral health.
You can learn more at www.LADentist.com.
Disclaimer: Obviously, every patient’s case is different, and needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional. Please see your healthcare professional or contact us for an appointment.