Happy National Gum Care Month!
However, there is nothing to be happy about when discussing the gum health of the average American. The Surgeon General reports that 80% of adults have gum disease—a fact echoed by nearly every medical and dental organization out there.
In fact, there is so much gum disease in the world that the 2010 Guinness Book of Records listed periodontal (gum) disease as the number one disease affecting mankind.
What exactly is the profession of dentistry doing about these unfortunate statistics? Shockingly—almost nothing. According to JP Consultants, up to 90% of insurance claims are for “preventive prophylaxis” (also called a “6-month cleaning”) which by definition is to be performed only on healthy gums to prevent disease. So it seems like the dental profession is acting as if periodontal disease isn’t even real because they aren’t treating the 80% of us that have it!
This is, frankly, professionally embarrassing, and it puts the public at an increased risk for a whole host of deadly diseases thanks to the oral systemic connection. The evidence is irrefutable: the disease in your mouth can negatively impact your entire body.
What can you do? Grill your dental care providers! Force them to change by arming yourself with a couple of questions that will make them squirm:
- Ask your dentist and hygienist if you had any bleeding during your 6-month visit. If the answer is yes, then ask them why they didn’t tell you that you had gum disease (because bleeding = disease). Furthermore ask them why they just performed the wrong treatment for your diseased condition. If the disease is present, you need therapy that is far more elaborate and thorough than the 6-month prophylaxis care visit. It’s too late for prevention.
- Ask your dental team if their office has a goal for periodontal therapy. What are they trying to accomplish? You can’t cure gum disease, so every effort should be made to control it by stabilizing the clinical signs (stop the bleeding, bad breath, receding gums, and bone loss on X-ray, to name a few). However, it is equally important to identify and reduce the bad causative periodontal bacteria and stabilize them as well. However, most dental teams ignore this critical step. You can’t see the bad bacteria with your naked eye. You have to perform a lab analyzed saliva test and 95% of dental offices do not do this! It’s impossible to know that a patient has microbiologic stability without testing the saliva.
So it’s no wonder that gum disease is running rampant and out of control—not only throughout the country but in the average dental office as well!
So how can anyone have a happy National Gum Care Month? Well here’s a ray of hope. The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health has been educating dental teams and medical professionals to further this discussion and bring about the change that our country desperately needs to improve our declining health. There is a strong chance that you have periodontal disease. Take action now by finding yourself an AAOSH dentist for complete diagnosis and treatment (if needed) for this most common disease of all.
Dr. Chris Kammer is the founding father, past president, and current board member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. His strong belief in medical testing has made him the nation’s top saliva pathogen and systemic inflammation blood tester for the dental profession. Along with Dr. Shiela Strauss of NYU School of Nursing, Dr Kammer has submitted a study proposal to the National Institute of Health to screen for diabetes in dental practices by utilizing gingival crevicular blood. He is also the developer of the Gums of Steel Hygiene Transformation protocol and the Healthy Happy Wealthy (H2W) lecture series, which can be found at www.DentalProShop.com