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Smile, Your Health Depends On It

Why dental visits can mean better health all around

Pretty much everyone knows how important it is to have routine dental cleanings to help prevent both cavities and gum disease. When it comes to professional dental cleanings, there are different procedures to remove plaque and bacteria from teeth and treat the areas above and below the gum line. One main reason there are different types of dental cleanings is because of a common disease called periodontitis, often known as “Gum Disease.”

The mouth is filled with countless bacteria. Periodontitis begins with inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis. This may not always be easy to recognize but one of the first signs that you may become aware of is bleeding from the gums when you brush your teeth, or the gums may look red and swollen and you might notice a discolored layer of bacterial plaque on the teeth.

When certain bacteria (known as periodontal bacteria) produce toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums it causes inflammation and infection.  This resulting inflammation and infection allow bacteria and food debris, known as plaque, to build up and is left undisturbed on the teeth, commonly in hard-to-reach areas such as between the teeth.   

Patients who have periodontitis require a specific cleaning technique called “scaling and root planning” or commonly known as “deep cleaning.” Like the name implies, this process provides your teeth with a “deep cleaning” using special techniques to remove tarter, bacteria, toxic deposits from the root of a tooth.

Once you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease and have undergone scaling and root planning, periodontal maintenance is essential in keeping periodontal disease from becoming more serious. Periodontal cleanings must be performed more often than a “healthy mouth.”

Periodontal disease and its associated inflammation are linked to your overall systemic health. It can have effects on general health, pose an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and complications during pregnancy.

If you have dental insurance, understanding your benefits is very important. Benefits vary from plan to plan, so consult your benefits booklet or ask your dentist for specific details.

What many people do not understand is that once you have periodontal disease and it has been treated you are always as risk of its return.  This is due to the loss of gum and bone, and exposure of the root surface of the teeth. Therefore, you will not be able to have the insurance “free” preventative (prophy) cleaning again. Insurance companies and dentists consider the “free” preventative cleaning a cleaning for teeth with no loss of gum and bone, and root surface exposure.

Be sure to speak with your dentist about gum disease and your dental benefits plan. Your dentist is a partner in your care and wants the best for your dental health and happiness.

Judson T. Connell, DMD

Dr. Connell earned his doctorate of dental medicine from The Medical College of Georgia in 1991. He focuses on providing general and cosmetic dentistry as well as facial esthetics with personalized care. He has joined an elite 1% of US dentists who have obtained advanced cosmetic and advanced dental reconstruction post-graduate from Las Vegas Institute (LVI) for Advanced Dental Studies.

He holds certification in Laser Dentistry, Invisalign, Six Month Braces, Cerec technology, Botox for esthetics + TMJ, migraines, Dermal Fillers, PDO Threading, and Oral Conscious Sedation. He is a member of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, The American Dental Association, Georgia Dental Association, Dental Organization for Oral Conscious Sedation, American Society of Implant & Reconstructive Dentistry and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.