Going to the dentist.. – Dr. Shanaz

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted something on the blog. So let’s post something educational for a change. On my favourite topic that is: the periodontium!

What is the periodontium? It is made up of four structures. The gingiva (the gums around your tooth), the cementum (root portion of the tooth), the periodontal ligament (the ligaments holding the tooth to the bone) and the alveolar bone (the bone surrounding the tooth). Simple right? So now let’s give you a situation:

The thing with going to the dentist is that it sometimes really hurts. Both physically and financially! Isn’t that true? Not only are you going voluntarily (well sometimes we are forced by either parents, spouses or even our kids), but at times you are forced to. Who can bear that dull, constant tooth ache. Gnawing at you day and night. And what’s the worse thing about tooth aches? Every single time you eat, it amplifies!

We get it. As dentists, we get it too. We’re just as human as you are. Which means, we bear no immunity from the woes and worries of having a tooth ache or gum problems. Though not every tooth ache is due to a hole (cavity) on the tooth. Not every pain you feel in the mouth is caused by caries (an irreversible dental disease that destroys your tooth structure causing cavities).

Healthy gums (gingiva)

At times, tooth pain is caused by food impaction. This actually results in inflamed gums surrounding the teeth. What may be perceived as tooth pain, is actually pain from the gums! Food impaction has many causes; one of which is due to either misalignment of the teeth or gaps between the teeth, where food gets stuck in hard to clean areas, and it gets impacted into the pockets of the gums.

This causes a vicious cycle as the pocket of gums are inflamed and lifted off from the tooth, causing a space, providing more room for more food and plaque to be impacted in. Thus, causing bigger and deeper pockets, and causing more and more pain! As food debris and plaque remains in the pockets, it hardens as calculus (not the math kind!) and it spreads wider and deeper. Can you see the inevitable cycle now? We call this gingivitis which may lead to periodontitis.

Swollen (red and enlarged) gums (courtesy of: https://hubpages.com/health/Swollen-Gums)

The major problem with periodontitis is that it is irreversible to a certain degree. The amount of bone loss surrounding your teeth due to this continuous disease (if not treated) may be permanent. Resulting in constant sensitivity (due to exposed roots of your teeth) and mobile teeth. So let’s not allow ourselves to reach that stage.

How do we treat gingivitis or periodontitis? Simple! All you need is some scaling and polishing. The one treatment needed by nearly every single patient that walks in our clinic. Ultimately, all you need is to remove the source of the pain (food impaction and deep calculus) and to maintain the cleanliness of the area! Periodontitis might require a little bit more extensive treatments, but that’s for another day.

Here are some tips to avoid this altogether:

  1. Visit your dentist regularly! At least for a check up, if not for the routine yearly scaling and polishing.
  2. Brush AND floss at least twice daily.
  3. Reconsider realigning your teeth with braces if you tend to always have food stuck and the alignment of your teeth are off.
  4. Getting your recently extracted tooth replaced with a prosthesis such as a denture, bridge, implant and fibre reinforced bridge.

If you or your family members have any problems such as the above, feel free to come in for a consultation or contact me directly at shanaz@story.drfauziah.com

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