Just like any other part of the body, the teeth and mouth require a little attention to keep them healthy and fit. Our dental fitness program is a great tool to help you achieve the level of health (dental fitness) you desire. Dental fitness is a monitoring program that allows us to identify trends in your plaque buildup, areas of inflammation and changes in the periodontal pockets surrounding your teeth.
THE DREADFUL STORY
The two most common diseases we see in dentistry are cavities (caries) and gum disease (periodontal disease). Both are caused by the bacteria in your mouth. The dreadful story is the story of plaque and its role in these two diseases. Plaque is the sticky substance that sticks to the surface of the tooth. The plaque contains food debris and bacteria.
The bacteria eats the food that is in the plaque and secretes an acid as a by-product. Since the plaque is stuck to the surface of the tooth, the acid is concentrated on the surface of the tooth. As the acid sits on the tooth surface it dissolves away the mineral of the tooth causing a cavity or hole in the tooth. A restoration of the missing tooth structure is needed to correct and stop the process.
Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease):
In a similar way, the bacteria and acid will irritate the gum tissues causing the gums to be inflamed (swell and bleed easily). This is called gingivitis. In a healthy mouth there is a shallow "pocket" surrounding each tooth where the gums meet the tooth (periodontal pocket). This pocket is normally 1-3mm deep. The plaque can be easily cleaned off the tooth in these areas with a toothbrush and floss. If the gums become inflamed, the pocket will increase in size (4mm). This pocket is harder to clean but can still be cleaned with a toothbrush and floss. However, if the area is not cleaned thoroughly, the inflammation continues and begins to break down the gums and bone surrounding the tooth. With this break down of the supporting structures, the pocket continues to increases in depth (5+mm). At this point normal toothbrushing and flossing cannot adequately clean the area and the inflammation continues to damage the bone and gums around the tooth. This is called periodontitis (gum disease). If periodontitis is not stopped and the area is not cleaned, the process continues and may result in the need for gum surgery or loss of the affected teeth. Periodontal disease has now been linked to several common systemic diseases such as Diabetes, Heart disease (atherosclerosis), Stroke, and pre-term, low birth-weight babies.
The best treatment for periodontitis and cavities is prevention. With good home brushing and flossing habits, you can remove the plaque and maintain the pockets at the normal 1-3mm depth. This stops the inflammation before it progresses to the point of losing control to periodontal disease. With our dental fitness program, we can help you identify areas of concern and help you develop cleaning techniques that will remove the plaque more efficiently.
BACTERIAL DNA ANALYSIS
Bacterial DNA analysis is another tool we use to manage periodontal disease. With this DNA test, we can identify what periodontitis causing bacteria are present in the periodontal pockets. We then develop a cleaning protocol to thoroughly clean these pockets commonly with an antibacterial solution. We may also prescribe an antibiotic specific to the bacteria present at the same time to decrease the number of bacteria present. This helps decrease the inflammation and the damage it does to the bone and gums.