A show of hands: how many of you knows what gingivitis or periodontitis is? And how many of you go to the dentist every six months?
What if I tell you that if you don’t do that, you might lose all your teeth when you’re 40 years old, not because of old age but due to periodontitis?
Don’t believe me?
Read on and you’d most probably be looking for a dentist after that.
If you prefer to, you can watch this video (please watch to the end to understand what’s going on n our gums!) we’ve done instead, too:
Brushing Your Teeth is Useful But Not the Only Way to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Of course, for any questions about your teeth, it’s best to consult a dentist even when it’ll burn a hole in your wallet.
So, for a start, here’s the burning why is there a really need to visit a dentist?
You’ve not been visiting once since you were in primary school, and you can still bite a peanut easily.
You’ve also been brushing your teeth twice a day, so you think your teeth is like your clothes: as long as you wash them regularly, they’d be clean right?
Well, yes and no.
You see, while it seems like we brush our teeth to smell good, the real reason isn’t about how we feel, but what went on on our teeth.
We brush our teeth primarily to remove food and plaque on our teeth after we’ve eaten something.
You see, if you brush your teeth within 12 or 24 hours, those food and plaque are still soft on your teeth, so they can be brushed off.
After a certain period, they’ll harden to tartar, and unless you use a knife on your teeth (not recommended, of course!), you cannot brush them off. Instead, you need special equipment by the dentist to remove them.
So, that means we won’t have tartar as long as we brush our teeth regularly, right?
Well, fat chance.
Because you’ll have 3 meals a day (or more if you’re like me), chances are, there would still be plaque or food that you’d miss while brushing, because brushing your teeth isn’t a magical way to remove the plaque.
In fact, it’s recommended that you brush AND floss your teeth to remove as much plaque as possible.
But still, some plaque would still be untouched and it’ll harden to tartar. Heck, even a dentist would miss those plaque.
Scaling & Polishing
So, since there is tartar in your teeth, you’d need a dentist to remove them.
This is called scaling and polishing, but we Singaporeans just call it “teeth cleaning”.
So basically, a rather scary device vibrates and knocks out those hard tartar.
Then teeth are then “polished” so food won’t stick on them that much again, though eventually, they will.
Therefore, this means you need to go to the dentist every six months to keep those tartar away from your teeth, because chances are, you have them with you
But what if…you let these tartar stay in your teeth? That is, if you don’t visit the dentist?
Your teeth will all drop out.
No, I’m not kidding.
Gum Disease On The Way
Firstly, you’d have the initial stage of gum disease known as gingivitis.
This is the initial stage where the gums’ inflammation occurs, causing your gums to look reddish and bleed easily.
At this stage, you can still save your teeth by going for treatment and removing those nasty tartar.
But if you ignore it, then it’ll develop into something known as periodontitis.
That’s when the tartar causes damage to the inner layer of your gum, and there would be bone loss in your mouth, leading to loss tooth as the bone is needed to secure the teeth to your mouth.
Also, when that happens, there would be “pockets” within the roots of your teeth as gums move away from your teeth.
So yes, even if you think you’ve healthy teeth now, you could lose your teeth tomorrow if you don’t take care of it, because remember the bone loss mentioned earlier?
They’re irreversible, so once you lose some bone in your jaw, the only solution is to remove that loose tooth—unless you can live with a wobbly tooth for the rest of your life.
Periodontitis is so common that over in the US, half of all Americans aged 30 or older have it.
And the older a person is, the more serious the condition is.
But why only the old folks suffer from this?
Simple: it takes time for the tartar to build up, get into your gum, create havoc and eventually lead to teeth loss.
It’d be faster if you’re a smoker, of course.
So if you want to avoid that, you simply need to go to the dentist every six months, whereby the dentist will also assess your condition regularly.
And just so you know, while it sounds expensive, the usual scaling and polishing isn’t expensive and is usually below $100 or so.
Treating periodontitis and extracting your teeth will cost thousands of dollars.
The PSA here? Head to the dentist now if you’ve been avoiding the trip for years.
Featured Image: Unsplash (@hikeshaw)