By Dr. Eli Prenzlau D.D.S.
Practicing dentistry in the USA, the main thrust of my practice was to try to educate my patients into what we called “preventive-oriented dental care,” meaning routine 4-6 month recalls to the office. That way, their gum care, as well as check-up of their teeth, would be done in a controlled manner, avoiding crisis and expensive dental work on an emergency basis.
Over the years I have tried to educate my Israeli patients in a similar manner. It’s not an easy task, but over time, I have seen more and more patients come in on a “routine basis,” seeing me and the hygienist for a total oral health check-up on a bi-annual basis.
Gum Disease—What to Keep Your Eye on
Gum disease can sneak up on you if you don’t know what to look for. That is why routine check-ups are so important. It can start as a mild form called gingivitis, which rarely causes much pain, so you’ll probably see other signs before you feel anything unusual.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do my gums seem red and puffy?
- Do my gums bleed when I brush or clean between my teeth?
- Do I have any permanent teeth that feel loose?
- Do my teeth look like they are getting longer? Do I see more of the roots?
- Have my teeth shifted? Do they suddenly seem crooked?
- How is my bite? Do my teeth fit together differently when I bite down?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, make sure to talk to your dentist about it. Usually, a professional cleaning is enough to tackle gingivitis. That is why preventive-oriented care is so important. After that, of course, you have to follow up with your part of the process which includes the following:
- Brushing your teeth for 2-3 minutes, twice a day.
- Cleaning between your teeth with either floss or other inter-dental cleaner (there are many), once a day.
The following are some of the signs that put you at risk for more severe forms of gum disease:
- Poor oral hygiene—Make sure to follow the above rule of brushing twice a day for 2-3 minutes.
- Tobacco use—In any form, tobacco is bad news for your oral health!
- Illnesses that lower your ability to fight infection—Diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and cancer treatments, can all increase the risk of gum disease.
- Medications—These can also affect the oral cavity and your gums. Let your dentist know if you are on any medications for high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes, or osteoporosis.
- Pregnancy—“Pregnancy gingivitis” is common during pregnancy, as a woman can become more sensitive to the bacteria that cause gum disease.
In conclusion, prevention is the best cure. You know your mouth better that anyone else does. Keep an eye out for the above signs, and let your dentist know if you notice anything unusual, either with your gums or with your teeth. This way, small problems can be treated early, before they develop into big ones. Prevention is the key to good oral health!
Dr. Prenzlau’s Oral Health Center in Jerusalem offer the full range of dental and oral health treatments, including oral rehabilitation, implants and esthetic dentistry.
They are located on Rechov Azza 26 in Jerusalem and can be contacted at 02-566-0669.