Understanding Gum Disease Part 4
Generally the number one sign for gum disease is bleeding. So if you are brushing your teeth and there is blood there’s a sign that there is infection there. If you floss your teeth and there’s blood there’s infection there. Now some people don’t floss because they say, “When I brush there is no bleeding but when I floss there is. So I’m thinking I am causing a problem.” No, any kind of bleeding around your teeth is infection. Everybody from time to time will have some infection in their mouth, either gingivitis like the tooth commercials on TV or they talk about this kind of Aqua Fresh as opposed to this type of Crest but really it’s bacteria that is causing the problem.
One of the things that is interesting is a lot of patients will say sometimes that, “We’ll you know my parents had gum disease. Was it hereditary? Is it something that you know am I just going to be more prone to it?” There are tests we can run now a days and this also goes along with the diagnosis. If we suspect somebody or an individual might be at more risk to gum disease we can run tests to see what is a good way of treating it. What I mean by that is, bacteria attacks your body. I have a lot of patients for instance that will come in, husband and wife for example. Husband never brushes his teeth. Maybe he does once in a blue moon when his wife tells him to. Wife brushes her teeth, flosses them all the time.
They come in once every six months or he does maybe once a year. She comes in every three months, has her teeth cleaned and her periodontal condition or her gum condition is getting worse and worse and worse. Even though she is the one that does everything by the text book. She brushes and flosses. She rinses, She comes to see us all the time. Whereas the other individual, he never brushes. He never seems to have as big a problem. What’s going on there?
Well, two fold. It’s not the bacteria necessarily by itself that’s causing the problem with gum disease. It’s the persons genetic makeup and how they respond to that. It’s a fight, it’s a war, it’s a battle. You think of two lines drawing up. It’s the bacteria and it’s you fighting each other. The fall out of that war, collateral damage is what’s causing the problem. When they talk about dropping a bomb in Iraq, what’s the collateral damage to the surrounding area? So it’s really the host or the human body itself that and its reaction to the bacteria that is causing the damage.
So when we see something like this, husband and wife, a lot of times what we’ll do is we’ll do genetic testing. We’ll find that the husband has a different genetic makeup that makes him more resistant to the bacteria while the wife is less resistant. So treatment really involves treating them both so that they can get healthy because we can treat her but if they are still kissing and things, if it is infectious, he is infecting his wife. So we want to make sure that they stay healthy and so we have to tailor the treatment that way.
If you suspect that you have gum disease or you suspect that, oh I think I have a problem with my, the first thing that you need is you need a diagnosis and you need to see a dentist and have a diagnosis of what is going on. You want to know what stage the disease is in because there are different kinds of treatments that you can do. Some of it’s surgery and that is scary. Some of it’s non-surgical. That is not as scary but it really depends on the diagnosis for the patient.