Kathy Russell is a dental hygienist at Contemporary Dental Arts, P.C., in Burlington, Vermont and Williston, Vermont. She enjoys educating our patients about the link between periodontal health and overall health, especially the connection to heart disease and diabetes. Many adverse health conditions have symptoms that present in the mouth, and regular checkups are the best way to protect yourself from all types of diseases.
A patient with a normal healthy mouth can have their teeth cleaned every six months. Other patients, it's more individualized; every three to four months. Children, every six months until they go into braces. Then we'll see them more frequently.
A person's periodontal health is directly related to their overall health because of the infection component in our mouths. Everybody has a lot of bacteria in their mouth. It's directly related to heart disease and diabetes and the general health of a person. There are also studies that show that there's a direct correlation between bacteria in people's mouth and other diseases such as pancreatic cancer, kidney disease.
I had a patient who had a lot of bleeding in their mouth, and they had no medical history to substantiate their infection in their mouth. After we did some scanning and root planing and periodontal therapy, they went to their physician and they had developed diabetes. And with the periodontal therapy that we did and the medication for the diabetes, the patient returned to good health.
I had a patient who had been in for several years and she had normal, healthy tissue, and one day she came in and her gums were bleeding profusely during the cleaning. I suggested that she see here doctor to find out if medically there was anything wrong, and she had developed multiple myeloma which is a disease of the blood. So there is a direct correlation between the health of our mouth and our bodies. And it's amazing every day that we find more and more evidence to support this.
We have a very exciting new development in our periodontal program, and that's the ability to test the saliva of patients that have gum infections. We send away their saliva to a company and it comes back with the level of bacteria they have in their mouths. And through the use of antibiotics and periodontal therapy, we're able to cure the infections.
At a patient's first hygiene visit, the first thing I do is a periodontal screening to evaluate the level of health in a patient's mouth. We do a periodontal probing and if there are any areas if infection, we will treat those with periodontal therapy, discuss home care, diet, the general health of the patient, so that they can move forward to have the best and healthiest foundation of their mouth before they begin restorative work.
If anyone is interested for coming in for dental hygiene visit, please call our office and set up an appointment, and we'd be happy to see you.