Dentistry is the known evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the soft and hard tissues of the jaw (mandible), the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent.
An Interview with Dr. Patti Gardner Webb on Periodontal Disease
Dr. Patti Gardner Webb is a dentist and has answered some of the common questions Bizymoms visitors have about Periodontal Disease.
Q. What Causes Tooth Loss?
A. The most common form of human tooth loss is a natural process that begins to occur at about 6 years of age. The deciduous (baby) teeth begin to loosen and come out. Many parents get concerned if their child has not lost a tooth by age seven - but I always laugh and say that the longer the permanent tooth is "covered", the longer before it will decay. This usually makes the parent relax. Baby teeth are lost somewhere between 6 and 13 and are replaced by the permanent teeth. Teeth are also lost because of accidents and decay. Today we have implants (tiny posts that are placed into the bone and then a crown is placed on the top). Implants are an alternative to bridges and partials. Sometimes we lose a tooth prematurely in a child. In this case, we try to place a space maintainer so that the "space" can be saved for the permanent tooth. Another common reason to lose teeth in adults is periodontal disease.
Q. What Causes Periodontal Diseases?
A. "Perio" means around, and "dontal" refers to teeth. Periodontal disease is an infection around the tooth. Periodontal disease is caused by specific bacteria. The true definition of periodontal disease is that the patient has some bone loss around the tooth. As plaque (bacteria plus mucus plus food debris) builds up around the tooth bacterial toxins start to dissolve the bone holding the tooth. The tendency to get periodontal disease can be inherited. Smoking also contributes to the progression of the disease.
Q. Can Periodontal Diseases Be Prevented?
A. Poor nutrition, illness, pregnancy (changes in hormones), rough surfaces in your mouth (braces, fillings), stress, and medications play a role in whether a person has periodontal disease. However, we believe that lack of flossing and the build-up of calculus (heavy plaque) are big indicators for the progression of gingivitis (bleeding and puffy gums) to periodontal disease (bone loss). Therefore, if we decrease plaque we decrease gum disease. This can be accomplished by several means: brushing, flossing, periodontal cleanings, well-balanced diets and no tobacco products. Even with the best plans sometimes patients have periodontal diseases and it is a continual battle. There are numerous other treatment options that can be presented by our staff.
Q. How Does Plaque Attack the Gums? And How Do You Stop Plaque Attacks?
A. Plaque attacks can be slowed down by brushing and flossing. We see children everyday that have what looks like white or yellow "sticky - stuff " growing on their teeth. Their gums are very red and sometimes swollen and bleeding (gingivitis). The researchers at the National Institute of Health in 1999 found that 50% of Americans had bleeding gums. That percentage is unacceptable and we are trying to help our patients learn how to slow the onset of gingivitis. Using a soft toothbrush and brushing well will keep the plaque from getting so thick. Everyday brushing and flossing IS important.
Q. How many times a day should I brush my teeth?
A. We suggest that our patients brush their teeth at least 2 times a day. You should brush after breakfast and before you go to bed. If we are talking about a child under 9-years-old then the parent should help at night. Perhaps, let your child brush for the first minute and then offer your help during the last minute. We also give our patients "timers" so that they can brush for a specific time period. The children usually like to use these because it seems like a game to them!!
Q. What kind of toothpaste should I use?
A. The type of toothpaste to use really depends on the patient. Many of our patients have very sensitive teeth. We suggest that they use a paste for sensitive teeth - do not use a paste with whiteners or abrasives in them. In addition, patients with a high decay rate need extra fluoride. Some of our patients have a very dry mouth and we have special pastes for them. We have many different choices of pastes and these are described in detail to our patients. We also have lots of samples.
Q. How to contact Dr. Webb if we have further questions?