Periodontal disease or “gum disease” is a significant and often undiagnosed bacterial infection that causes chronic inflammation in the mouth. Any on-going infection, no matter where it is on the body is not good for us. Why? Because our immune system has to constantly deal with it to keep it “at bay”. If left untreated, gum disease can damage the tissue around the teeth, cause an easy pathway for bacteria to get into the bloodstream and can irritate the bone that holds the teeth firmly in place. Irritated bone tends to disappear and when enough is gone, teeth can become loose and wobbly. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss. And the more teeth we lose, the harder it is for us to eat. Soon we’re thinking “twice” before ordering that juicy meal because we’ll struggle to chew it up. So, gum disease has the potential of affecting the quality of our lives, not to mention self-esteem if we lose a front tooth.

Sometimes we can see the gum disease: red, swollen, inflamed gums that hurt when you touch or floss them. Other times it’s like a “silent” disease that you wouldn’t know you had unless a dentist or hygienist takes a closer look around. At our office, we take gum disease seriously. We are particularly concerned about it affecting other parts of your body since the ongoing research is linking it to heart health, diabetes, Alzheimer’s (and other dementias), rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer and more. The research continues. The head really is connected to the toes and it passes through the mouth.

At our office we are extremely proud of our progressive gum disease program. My hygienists are among a few hundred hygienists nationwide (and I think, the only hygienists in Skagit County) who have the privilege of working with a tiny camera (Perioscopy, an endoscope) that they slip under the gums (don’t worry…you’re numb) so they can “see” these calcified deposits called “tartar” or “calculus” and remove them. Anything short of using a camera is what we call “blind-root planing”. We think it’s important to “get it all” removed. And we also think that if we can remove it all we have a better chance of preventing you from taking a trip to a gum surgeon for gum surgery, whereby they cut the gums, pull them back, remove the deposits, then stitch you back together again. Ugh! Who wants that!? We have the technology now to minimize gum surgery. It’s no wonder my patient’s chose endoscope treatment if they’re looking for our best care.

We also look at over-all health, blood test values, and follow the Bale-Doneen philosophy for approaching gum disease. We are very keen on vitamin D deficiencies as an example and know that the mouth in many circumstances is a reflection of what’s happening in the rest of the body. My hygienists, Kyra and Britney have been individually trained by Judy Carroll, RDH, an educator, speaker and leader in developing non-surgical treatment protocols. Check out PerioPeak.com for more about her.

Feel free to contact us (360-424-0123) for any more questions about this very, very important part of over-all health.

Janette Carroll, DDS located in Mount Vernon, WA.