Two weeks ago my sons and I watched the post man drop off our Saturday mail. As usual my three and five year old were more than excited to see what the post man delivered. My three year old says “dad, here’s your tooth magazine”. Sure enough it was a journal with a large tooth on the front, but what I saw amazed me. This was not a dental journal but my wife’s journal for Physician Assistants, “The Clinical Advisor”.
I began to read the article and on page one I read a very powerful statement;
“Primary care providers, including nurse practioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), should become more aware of periodontitis so that they can educate patients about preventive strategies, assess and monitor patients’ oral health, and select appropriate treatment options”.
I say this is powerful because the statement illustrates that primary medical care professionals are realizing the importance of addressing something that has always been largely left to the dental community. These bacteria and disease processes in the mouth affect the entire body and millions of Americans are going untreated for this serious disease.
In the past, having receding gums, bad breath, and shifting teeth were all considered a normal part of aging. We now understand this is not the case, but rather bacteria in the mouth are destroying the bone support around our teeth. Modern medicine is showing us that the affect of this bacteria is not just limited to our mouths and teeth, but affect our entire bodies. As this article illustrates it can be difficult for a patient with diabetes to control their sugar levels that have uncontrolled periodontal disease.
Some other examples; just recently here in our office we had two patients who could not get clearance for medical surgeries, a shoulder replacement and heart surgery, until their oral health was in order. Also, new studies show there maybe a connection with arthritis and periodntal disease. As a dentist it is difficult to translate the importance of controlling periodontal disease as in most instance it is painless. Many patients do not experience pain or discomfort from periodontal disease until it is too late and when it reaches this point, treatment is usually tooth extractions. With modern dental treatment we can avoid this scenario and usually treat periodontal disease with a laser that does not require cutting of the gum.
Here at White Wolf Dental we recognize the importance of battling a disease that impacts about 47% of Americans and most people may not even be aware of. To help in caring for our patients to the highest standard, we invited Dr. Adrian Abrahams to join our team. He is a Periodontist, a dental speicalist with three additional years of training to treat disease of the bone and gum. His skills add an important dimension to our dental team and open up new possibilities for diagnosis and treatment of oral health issues. Not to worry, we haven’t raised our fees because we hired a specialist! If you have any questions, always feel free to ask us.