A variety of illnesses that have nothing to do with your teeth are directly related to how you treat your mouth. According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, gum disease is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature and low-birth-weight babies, and many other preventable ailments.
Read the Signs
You know your mouth better than anyone, so if you notice a toothache, inflamed gums, or sores — or if you have persistent pain or fever —contact your dentist immediately to get some help. The sooner the problem is dealt with, the less likely it is you’ll get an infection.
Cavities are holes in the teeth, which are caused by a build-up of plaque which erodes the enamel. When left untreated, cavities can result in tooth pain or sensitivity. If they’re still not dealt with, the tooth may ultimately need to be pulled.
Gone are the days when you could count someone’s silver cavities when they yawned or laughed! Nowadays, dentists use tooth-coloured enamel for fillings, which looks better. (And they call them restorations, which sounds better.)
Sometimes brushing and flossing isn’t enough. If plaque builds up in your gums, you may become susceptible to gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. See your dentist if you notice redness, swelling of the gums, tenderness when brushing or flossing, or bleeding. If gingivitis is untreated, the bacteria can spread through your bloodstream, endangering your health.
More severe than gingivitis, periodontitis occurs when the gums and bone pull away from the teeth, leaving a space for bacteria to grow. The bacteria attack the bone and surrounding gum tissue holding the teeth in place.
Eventually, the teeth loosen and in extreme cases, can even fall out. This demonstrates the importance of brushing, flossing, and regularly seeing your dentist!
Treatments That Can Help
Some oral health conditions may be severe enough that a general practitioner will refer you to a specialist. Dental specialists focus on one aspect of oral care, such as the gums.
These practitioners charge a higher rate than regular dentists, and your dental insurance may not cover the excess amount. Check with your insurance company if you’re in doubt.
According to the Canadian Academy of Periodontology, a periodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal and peri-implant diseases. In other words, they focus on the gums. Whether you know it or not, every time you get a cleaning, you’re being treated periodontally.
When a periodontist uses a sharp instrument to scrape plaque off your teeth and gums, they are performing a treatment called “scaling”. If however, you have an excessive buildup or if the plaque goes deeper into the gums, they will need to delve deeper using a procedure called “root planing”.
Your gums hold your teeth in place, and they cover and protect the roots of your teeth. They also prevent the dangerous bacteria in your mouth from entering your body and causing harm.
If there is damage to the gums, or if there has already been extensive dental work, sometimes bacteria gets in. The insides of your teeth (called the pulp) can become diseased, damaged, or infected, and there can be pain, swelling and sensitivity. This requires the removal of the pulp, in a procedure called a root canal. Most general practitioners can perform root canals, but when they are very complicated or structurally problematic, a specialist called an endodontist might be needed.
As with all other types of oral damage, this can lead to infection that will affect your general health, so it’s very important to have it taken care of.
Where Your Dental Benefits Come In
Most oral problems can be prevented through regular check-ups, brushing and cleaning. However, many people don’t go to the dentist regularly because they don’t have insurance coverage. Dental issues are ignored until they become an emergency, whether there is insurance or not.
The good news is that dental insurance is affordable, and indeed a sound investment. It’s better that your money goes towards preventative and efficient care, instead of much larger dental bills due to neglect.
Basic dental coverage will tend to include regular check-ups, diagnostic X-rays, cleaning, polishing, and any minor procedures you may require to maintain good oral health. It’s there to help you keep your gums and teeth in optimal shape to avoid extensive surgery or prosthetics in the future.
Find Out Now
If you have a dental insurance plan, find out from how often you are eligible for cleanings and work out a plan with your dentist to get the best care you can. Dental problems can lead to bigger health problems, and your dentist can help you prevent that. Seeking treatment and addressing problems will improve your health in the long run.
For the sake of your health and well-being, keep up on your dental care and see your dentist regularly!
If you don’t currently have dental insurance coverage (insert SBIS info here)