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On Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

September 30, 2014

A number of years ago, when financially-pressured managers of insurance benefit programs were working to find savings for their employer clients, there was a deliberate attempt to change their plans by stretching the previous norm of twice-annual dental checkup and cleanings into nine months or once a year.

On the surface, this may have seemed a good way to reduce benefit costs for the insurers. Unfortunately, it also proved to be a bad decision for the maintenance of proper oral health. The reason is simple, and is best summed up in the familiar saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Today, many people automatically assume that 9 month checkups and cleanings are the norm, and recommended by dental professionals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, with the prevalence of gingivitis and periodontal disease, quite the opposite is true.

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease are gum infections in the areas surrounding the teeth. It is caused by a build-up of toxins, because of inadequate cleanings, either at home, or from dental checkups that are too infrequent. Since it is pain-free, it often goes undetected until the damage is too severe. Early detection is typically only evident by your hygienist with regular gum pocket measurements as part of your dental checkups.

There are many factors which contribute to how quickly mild gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease can become serious periodontal disease. While proper brushing and flossing will indeed reduce your risk, it will not eliminate it. Other factors include age, family history, pregnancy, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, the use of orthodontic appliances, the shape and direction of teeth, side effects of certain drugs, or radiation therapy.

Untreated gum disease will certainly impact both dental and overall health. Loose teeth prone to falling out or requiring removal and/or bleeding gums are the most immediate outcomes. Additionally, it impacts how well your body responds to other health conditions such respiratory infections, heart conditions, risk to strokes, as well as the disease factors indicated above.

Most people today consider it a priority to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile over their entire life. To make that a reality, dental professionals recommend and strongly endorse regular checkups and cleanings in 3 to 4½ month intervals.

It is important to remember that insurance benefit programs are designed to ease and supplement your investment in proper dental health. They should never manage or dictate the level of care you need.

The cost of implants, bridges, and dentures greatly outweigh the cost of prevention and treatment. And so, thankfully, many insurance benefit programs have come to recognize that prevention is too important and now offer coverage for checkups and cleanings to ensure proper early treatment of gum disease. Ask one of Santé Dental’s dental professionals to establish if your coverage includes more frequent regular checkups and cleanings to fight this most destructive oral health condition.

Prepared with material and resources from Santé Dental Registered Hygienists Shannine VanDinther and Alicia Lewis.