Periodontal Disease and the Periodontist: the Invisible Enemy and the Unknown Friend

The Invisible Enemy

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory-infectious disease which affects most of the population throughout the years and is responsible for teeth loss. The main cause for the disease is the existence of plaque, which leads to the destruction of supportive tissue around the teeth until eventually the teeth fall out.

A Few Details:

  • Periodontal disease or periodontitis is the main cause for teeth lose.
  • More than 70% of extractions performed in dental clinics are a result of periodontal disease.
  • 3 out of 4 people suffer from some form of gingivitis.
  • 80%-90% of teens display signs of gingivitis or bleeding.

Bacteria are responsible for the development of periodontal disease, though there are other known risk factors such as heavy smoking, hormonal changes, stress and genetics.

Besides teeth loss, it’s been proven that periodontitis also affects the general health.

Many studies show that when periodontal disease is present bacteria and toxins may be transferred from the mouth to interior organs through the blood vessels. This contributes to the development of systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart and cardiovascular diseases, pregnancy complications and more recently even strokes and Alzheimer’s.

Despite this, there still isn’t enough awareness to periodontal disease and its affect on the general health.

Many people believe that teeth loss is a natural physiological process that occurs at an advanced stage in life as a result of aging.

One of the reasons that there is still a lack of awareness is because periodontal disease doesn’t involve pain which triggers an immediate visit to the dentist. Many patients whom do not visit the dentist periodically may discover that they suffer from advanced periodontitis and it is too late to save their teeth.

The Unknown Friend

The Priodontist, known as “the gum specialist”, treats one the most important subjects in dentistry: the teeth’s support mechanism. The Priodontist is trained to perform in these fields:

  • Prevention, diagnosis, early detection and treatment of periodontal diseases.
  •  Plastic surgeries for aesthetic purposes such as treating gum recession, root exposure and filling imperfections as a result of extractions.
  • Dental implants and jaw reconstruction by bone implants.

There are only about 100 Periodontists in Israel. This number shows just how little awareness there is to these matters among the general public. If most of the population was aware to the dangers of periodontal disease, the number of Periodontists would double or even triple.

Dentists and dental hygienists are at the forefront of early detection and preventative gum treatment. They are also responsible for raising the patients’ awareness and treating basic cases, as only some require the intervention of a specialist.

I believe that the Periodontistry Union in Israel, which I am a member of, must prepare for a vast campaign to educate the public about the dangers and implications of periodontal disease. We as Periodontists must fight against the trend that has swept through the country: the misconception that dental implants can replace the natural dentition. Dental implants should be seen as a last resort in severe cases.

My plea to the public:

Don’t wait to ask the dentist for a gum examination, don’t hesitate making an appointment with a Periodontist and don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

Teeth loss can be prevented. Minor treatments can be performed early on and the disease can be cured entirely.

The public must “get a grip” on their teeth. The people want teeth!

Dr. Bernard Dahan