“My husband says I need my teeth cleaned.”
I looked at the way she hid her smile behind a forehand.”
I realized immediately that this was not about how her teeth looked.
“Is it about the way your mouth smells?”
The look in her eyes told me the story.
She had been to see me three years earlier and we had recorded the full picture of moderate gum disease: swollen gums with tartar hidden under the gums, bleeding on probing, food sticking between the teeth, general pain after eating a meal….
We had begun with oral hygiene instructions and teaching the basics of how to truly clean one’s teeth. on her second visit we carried out full mouth scaling and polishing, with some root planning.
However, she never came for her follow-up visits despite SMS and phone call reminders.
Now, three years later, she had bad breath, especially when she had kept her mouth closed for a while. Her gums were swollen and they would bleed at any time even when eating.
Of late, when she pressed with a finger on her gums, she would see yellow fluid pushing through. When I told her it was pus, her eyes rounded with horror.
Gum disease is progressive, insidious, unrelenting and asymptomatic in nature.
It doesn’t cause significant discomfort until it is advanced.
The price of delay in pursing treatment means:
Loss of bone from under the gums
formation of gaps that trap food,
pus forming in the gums,
terrible bad breath,
drifting movement of teeth with some getting longer;
and finally; acute abscesses forming that result in extraction.
In addition, long term gum disease is now found to cause or exacerbate certain types of heart diseases, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases.
Diabetics and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.
I asked her” Are you ready to start treatment and stay the course this time?’
She nodded with a sigh. We began.