According to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health 80% of American adults over 35 have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases, or Periodontitis, are infections of the supporting bone and tissue around teeth caused by toxins that are produced by the bacteria in dental plaque. Periodontitis has many forms and different stages, with the most frequently occurring form being chronic periodontitis.
The American Academy of Periodontology categorizes chronic periodontitis as pocket formation (loss of bone) and/or gum recession that progresses slowly over time. If left untreated, the ultimate risks are painful infection or tooth loss. There is also the known association between pathogenic oral bacteria and the negative effects on overall health. For example, bacterias found in periodontal disease can put the patient with diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease at a higher risk for complications.
Infections in the mouth should be treated without delay. There are many reasons why patients with poor dental health postpone treatment. However, in my experience with these patients some of the common denominators include fear (in general), and fear of painful “dental cleanings”. Patients have shared that they don’t like the sound of the hygienist’s “scraping my teeth” or the feeling of “drowning from the water scaler”. They have made comments about the previous hygienist with “heavy hands” and even with local anesthesia or “numbing” the gum tissue, patients still continue to fear pain.
In today’s dental hygiene practice modern day technologies have made it possible for hygienists to provide pain free periodontal treatments even without the use of local anesthesia. One example of this would be the use of a soft tissue diode laser. Soft tissue diode lasers are being used in a wide range of dental treatments including as an adjunct to scaling and root planing procedures, the traditional approach to treating periodontal disease.
Some benefits of the diode laser include:
- bactericidal effects – kills bacteria in the periodontal pocket
- reduces risk of bacteria entering the blood
- No anesthetic needed
- softens calculus deposits
For this particular patient and his level of dental fear, non surgical periodontal therapy was performed under IV Sedation with the adjunctive use of a soft tissue diode laser. Visits to your dental hygienists should not hurt! Modern day technologies have expanded the way we are able to provide treatment for our patients including the promise of pain free “dental cleanings”. If its the “heavy handed hygienist” or the “fear of drowning” that is keeping you from dental visits than fear no more! Consider seeking dental care from an office offering latest dental hygiene technologies for advanced care!
Shavonne Healy, MSDH, RDH, ICP is a registered dental hygienist and implant care practitioner at Kazemi Oral Surgery & Dental Implants