Gum disease / periodontal disease

I wrote this post over a month ago naming my previous dentist and first sent a draft to him as I wanted him to know the trauma that he had caused me.  His response was a letter of demand from his lawyers which prohibited me from posting with his name.

When you move to a new town one of the main problems is that you have to find a new doctor, dentist etc. I guess that I should have inquired further when my new dentist was recommended by a lady with false teeth. None the less I liked him, he has a charming manner and the swish rooms suggested success which should indicate that he knows his stuff.
In December 2006 at the age of 39 I found out that I was pregnant after a year of stressful TTC (trying to  conceive). When I was about 6 months pregnant I noticed that a back molar was very loose. I went to my dentist and he told me that I clearly had advanced gum disease (periodontal disease) which he had never picked up although it is clear as day on an x ray, if you know what the pockets associated with gum disease look like.  Early detection of the gum disease would have prevented bone loss, tooth loss and surgery not to mention the associated trauma. If detected early it would have been arrested, it took many years to reach the critical point which it did.

As I was pregnant no treatment could be done until my baby was born. With horror I read online that the bacterial infection of periodontal disease can lead to miscarriage or early labour Thank God, although Fjord arrived 2 weeks early he was unaffected.

I had always brushed my teeth twice a day. I had heard that it is important to floss regularly, even the song
“Sunscreen” offers that advice. I did floss but just a few times a week. During the pregnancy I noticed that my gums bled when I flossed, I thought that this was the norm in pregnancy. This put me off flossing. What I know now is that bleeding gums indicate gum disease. If your gums bleed when you floss, don’t stop flossing rather do it more often, they will stop bleeding if you do. I now floss every day.

A dark cloud hung over the first weeks after Fjord was born. I wish that I had been able to enjoy every precious moment with my new baby without the gloom of gum disease in the background. At a point I was worried that I would loose many teeth.

I was referred to a periodontist and went to him for treatment. This took place in steps. First he did an extensive clean (scaling and root planing), I strongly suspect that an oral hygienist would have done
this at a fraction of the cost. He gave me hope that this might be sufficient treatment but also mentioned that flap surgery may be needed too. At my next appointment he discussed the next step, surgery, without even checking if the clean had done anything to improve the situation. Flap surgery involves lifting the gum away from the teeth and trimming it, the gum is then stitched back in place for a snugger fit. This was done under local anesthetic and took about an hour. I then had stitches between all my teeth. I have had numerous ops to correct my harelip but this was the most emotionally traumatic surgery that I have been through. I have lost back molars and at some point must go for implants to replace them, I have delayed this as I find work on my mouth very upsetting and there is considerable cost involved. We had to take money from our bond to pay for the work which the periodontist did.

Discovering the periodontal disease left me so deeply shaken that ever since I have a heightened sense of my mortality which sometimes grips me with fear.

The following are tips to avoid going through what I did.

*More important than dental check ups, go to an oral hygienist for a routine clean at least once a year. The
importance of this was never stressed to me by a dentist. My new dentist books an appointment with the oral hygienist who works from his rooms every time any patient sees him. I don’t know if my previous dentist even works with one, it was never mentioned.

*When you choose a dentist make thorough inquiries first.

*After brushing teeth rinse your mouth with warm salt

* Use an electric toothbrush they are more effective

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