In today’s world of the next new worldwide health threat, it’s easy to look past some of the most aggressive and pervasive infections known to man. No doubt Ebola and the Wuhan Coronavirus are alarming because they have ended up taking the life of the people infected. On the other hand, the reality is they are rare and while contracting them would be very scary, there is another threat that you are way more likely to have to deal with.
Research has shown that more than 85% of adults have a history of periodontal infection and with that infection, have suffered irreversible bone loss and tissue damage. The problem is that our system was designed to be a great barrier and protection, but it wasn’t created in a way to rebuild its defense once damaged. Said another way, once you have had periodontal disease, you are forever more at risk for additional damage, bone loss, and tissue infection.
In regular visits, it is often called ‘recession’ and seems almost like a natural consequence of getting older, like crows feet. Simply a souvenir of life experience… However, that’s not the case. With even minor loss of bone and gum tissue change, the system is forever different. It is more resistant to getting healthy and more prone to re-infection. The simple reality is the bone change creates a more favorable site for pathologic bacteria to set up a foot-hold again.
There are two basic screens that should be regularly used to catch the change as quickly as possible. The first one is pocket depth measurements. This should be done annually at least and should result in a mouth full of measurements of 3mm or less. Typically you will hear something like 3-2-3, 3-2-3, 3-1-3 as the hygienist measures the tissues of your mouth. This is healthy and normal and can be maintained with regular home care. With good brushing and home care routines (brushing at least 2x a day and flossing and/or water flossing at least once a day) you should be able to keep that stable. On the other hand, if the pocket depths reach 4mm or more, you simply can’t access those pockets when you brush and floss anymore and they will continue to get more infected over time.