As a general dentist, I’m the first line of defense for periodontal (gum) disease. When patients come in, one of the first things we do is check to make sure their gums are healthy. When I diagnose a patient with periodontal disease, my goal is for them to understand the disease and then “own it”. We have to work together to keep it from moving to advanced stages.
Gum disease is personal for me. It has impacted my family – even since I’ve become a dentist my dad and grandfather have lost teeth to gum disease. Every day I try to find a solution for gum disease so my patients don’t have to experience the same thing.
Most of my patients don’t realize they have gum disease. Either they haven’t had a periodontal probing, or they don’t know what the numbers mean. And when patients don’t know what the numbers mean, they can’t help fight gum disease. This is why it’s so important for dentists to educate patients about gum disease – and for patients to ask questions and learn more.
Once you are diagnosed – own it! Owning your disease means being part of the solution for gum disease. Talk about treatment options with your dentist, and understand what will happen if you choose not to treat your periodontal disease.
There are 4 steps to owning your gum disease:
- Become educated
- Accept it
- Take action
- Follow up
STEP 1: BECOME EDUCATED
After I examine a patient and diagnose them with periodontal disease, the next step is to explain what periodontal disease is. I tell my patients – “I know what periodontal disease is, I went to school for it. But I want YOU to understand it because it is your disease.” Right now gum disease doesn’t have a cure, but we can get it under control to keep you as healthy as possible.
When you go to the dentist or hygienist, they measure each tooth at the gum line. The measurements called out during this process — the “3, 2, 5s” you hear — are part of how we determine if you have gum disease. Know your numbers! Numbers 1-3 are healthy gums, while anything over 4 indicates you have gum disease. The higher the number, the more advanced the disease is.
Gum disease is often called a silent disease because you don’t usually notice symptoms in early stages. It doesn’t hurt, so it’s easy for the disease to progress unnoticed if you’re not getting regular dental check-ups.
If it isn’t caught early, the bacteria causing gum disease will erode the bone supporting your teeth, causing your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
Beyond tooth loss, gum disease can impact your total body health. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, pre-term birth, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s. No longer do we think of the mouth as separate from the rest of the body, but rather as a gateway.
Scientists are still studying how the diseases are connected, but theorize that the pathogenic bacteria that cause gum disease might enter the blood stream and be carried throughout your body.
STEP 2: ACCEPT IT
70-80% of adults have gum disease, so you’re not alone! Once you’ve heard the explanation and diagnosis of periodontal disease, it’s time to accept you have this disease. Accepting it doesn’t mean “giving in” or ignoring it. Accepting that you have gum disease is about being willing to fight the disease and keep it from harming you.
STEP 3: TAKE ACTION
Once you accept you have periodontal disease, and that it isn’t going to go away, it’s time to develop a plan to fight it. There are different treatment action plans, depending on the level or degree of the disease. One option we offer is a simple procedure called the LANAP protocol.
LANAP treatment is one of the best things to happen for our periodontal patients in the last decade. Before LANAP, we could only maintain the disease or watch it get worse until the patient needed osseous surgery. Now, we can offer patients a solution for gum disease that has always been the ultimate goal for periodontal treatment — true regeneration. True Regeneration means we can actually re-grow some of the bone and tissues destroyed by the pathogenic bacteria. We get rid of infection and adjust teeth from hitting each other, with significantly less pain than osseous surgery.
STEP 4: FOLLOW UP
I say to my patients, if you aren’t going to do the maintenance after the initial treatment, it won’t work. It’s like buying a Ferrari – its very expensive and amazing car, but if you don’t take care of it, if you don’t keep up with regular maintenance, it will break down. The same holds true for the treatment and follow-up of your periodontal disease. If you move to another dentist and they aren’t taking care of your disease – either ask for treatment or find a new dentist!
Taking care of your oral health is important for your teeth and the rest of your body! Most of the time periodontal disease doesn’t hurt, and that’s why it can get to advanced stages without being noticed. Yes, you should go to the dentist twice a year for cleanings and be sure you’re getting a periodontal health assessment with probing. You are part of the solution for gum disease!
About Dr. Pinero:
Dr. Daysy Pinero was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She graduated with honors from the Central University of Venezuela with a degree in dentistry.
She moved to the United States in 1999 and attended Nova Southeastern University, where she graduated with honors and received a degree in Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).
Dr. Pinero is committed to education – both for patients and her team. She takes courses at The Pankey Institute, an exceptional learning environment where dentists hone their clinical skills and keep abreast of the newest dental technology.
Dr. Pinero established her own practice in Coral Springs, Florida to provide oral health solutions for your complete well-being. She always dreamed of having a comprehensive, family-oriented dental practice with a focus on patient comfort, and that dream has become a reality!