Flossing — most everyone hates it! But the fact is, a recent study from the Center for Disease Control just released a report that stated 40% of people admitted that they don’t floss their teeth every day and a whopping 32% reported that they don’t floss their teeth at all. So, how often do you floss? We know this question annoys a lot of patients. That’s because it’s typically accompanied by your dentist or hygienist probing your gum-line, which can sometimes be a little bit painful. Do I really have gum disease? We would like to give you some information about the stages of a gum disease diagnosis.

Stage 1: SHOCK

Many people are genuinely shocked at a gum disease diagnosis. We know it’s hard to concentrate and focus during a diagnosis discussion. Healthy gums are firm and pink and don’t bleed when you floss them. Gum disease can be located in one specific area or can affect the whole mouth. Maybe you expected to hear you have a cavity or two, but gum disease?!

Stage 2: DENIAL

Gum disease is diagnosed through dental x-rays, visual exams, and measuring “pocket” depth, or the space between your gums and teeth/jaw. Gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease, is curable and preventable just by improving your home oral hygiene routine. Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease and requires more involved treatment. If left untreated, Periodontitis may lead to tooth loss. Your first reaction to this diagnosis may be, “No Way! I brush every day. I can’t have gum disease!” Denial is a powerful thing. We do not want to deal with gum disease.

Stage 3: ANGER

Denial is followed by anger. At this point, many patients start getting frustrated that they didn’t do enough to prevent the development of gum disease. Some patients will direct their anger at the medical practitioners and blame them for not warning them early enough. “How come you never told me this?” “You’re my dentist, aren’t you supposed to PREVENT this?” Gum disease is most commonly the result of not flossing enough, properly, or at all. And chances are, we’ve been telling you about the importance of flossing your teeth. We walk a fine line when it comes to oral hygiene education. We want you to have a great oral hygiene routine at home.  If you’re angry, it’s okay. If you want a second opinion – that’s okay, too. In fact, we encourage it. We can talk about it.

Stage 4: BARGAINING

At this point, most patients have come to terms with the fact that they already have gum disease and are looking for the best treatment option. They start clutching at straws by suggesting ideas which are not appropriate when it comes to dealing with gum disease. Unfortunately, there is no bargaining when it comes to gum disease. It is a condition of inflammation and infection, and that must be treated first. “Can’t I just get a regular cleaning for now?” “You’re just trying to upsell me this treatment, aren’t you?”  The short answer to those questions is “no.”  If you’ve been diagnosed with Periodontitis, we can’t ignore it and provide you with treatment that could make it worse or potentially harm you in any other way. This may be frustrating, but our job is to help you have your healthiest smile, and to tell you the truth. Periodontitis is a condition of inflammation and infection and that must be treated first.

Stage 5:  HELPLESSNESS

This is the difficult stage where patients finally realize the inevitable and often feel discouraged. Some patients are frustrated that they may need to postpone teeth whitening or an implant until their gum disease has been addressed. If you’ve reached this stage, please don’t give up! Gum disease is treatable, curable, and many dental insurance policies cover gum disease treatment.

Stage 6:  ACTION

The most common treatment for Periodontitis is scaling and root planing. This can be done over one or more visits, depending on the location and diagnosis. At this point, patients have realized the importance of oral health to the well being of their bodies and are willing to take care of their dental health. They are, therefore, willing to partake in whatever treatment we suggest to them and most agree with scaling and root planing. After that,they come in for “maintenance” visits, which can be every 2 or 3 months. This is to make sure your gum disease has been duly vanquished. You will have realized at this point that oral health is a critical part of whole body health.

Stage 7:  VICTORY

Congratulations! If you’ve reached this stage, you are in a great position to have a healthy smile for life. This, by far, is the best stage of a gum disease diagnosis for both the patient and the dentist. There is nothing sweeter than victory against gum disease. Once Periodontitis has been successfully treated, your dentist will usually tell you it’s time to go back to your regular checkup and cleaning routine. They will encourage you to keep up a great self-care regimen at home which includes brushing and flossing every single day. Gum disease may not be something that we talk to each other about, but if 47% of adults over the age of 30 are living with it, maybe now is the time to start encouraging each other to take good care of our smiles.
Just remember a good number of folks don’t even know that they are suffering from gum disease. It is, therefore, wise to go for regular checkups to determine whether you have the disease. If you do, then begin treatment immediately! Remember, the  last stage of the diagnosis is sweet victory — because gum disease is treatable and curable!

We are here to help with all your dental needs. No matter what, we are here to make sure you have the best information and options available to take action and feel comfortable and confident in your smile.

Contact Us (859-689-1105) For More Information or to Make an Appointment!

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About Tri-State Family Dentistry

Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.
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