40-year-old Nonka (not real name) walked into the hospital lost in thoughts and sweating like one who unseen spirits are after. He entered the waiting room minutes after and sat among other patients waiting to be attended to by the doctors on duty.
In nanosecond, a nurse approached him and asked him what his problem was because he was looking very restless. Nonka looked into her eyes and pointed to his mouth without a single word. After what seemed like a hiatus, the nurse finally persuaded him to open his mouth and when he did, everyone pictured his problem from the nurse’s face.
His gums were loose and weak, crimson and swollen. In fact, they looked like they would deflate if pricked.
How it all began
Nonka was a man whose dental hygiene mattered less to, even though he was diabetic. Because of this, the plaque in his teeth increased in mass and gathered more and more bacteria which resulted in the formation of the hard dark-brown substance called tartar along the gum line of his teeth. The tartar penetrated his gum line which later resulted in the problem that took him to the hospital.
The nurse took Nonka to Dr. Franklin Okechuku (not his real name) and when this dentist took a cursory look at his ailment he discovered that the bacteria in the tartar has advanced to the membrane that attaches the root of the tooth to the bone. Which means that the bone is under attack and some of the heavily infected teeth would be removed.
“You have periodontal disease,” Doctor Franklin said through his surgical mask.
The man made a sharp inward breath through his nose, as if hit by a sudden twinge of pain from his mouth and stared blankly at Dr. Franklin, obviously in need of further explanation.
Here is what Dr. Franklin Okechukwu told him.
Periodontal disease is a disease common among people who are 35 years and older. Immuno-compromised patients are also at risk. It is characterized by bleeding and red-swollen gums.
Our mouths harbour bacteria and some of them inhabit the plaque (I already told us about this) above the gum line. These plaque may sometimes be removed by regular tooth brushing and flossing but in a situation where they are left in the teeth for a longer time (say more than 24hours) they harden to form tartar which may not easily be removed.
Overtime, the tartar formed gradually moves up to the gum line and the myriads of harmful bacteria they harbour attacks the gum and cause them to be red and swollen (called gingivitis). The gums may sometimes bleed when one use the tooth brush.
If this goes on untreated, the bacteria would increase in number and spread to the crevices of the gum line. When this happens, the gum widens and the soft tissue and the bone that holds the teeth in place is infected and gradually shrinks away. The teeth could easily be lost.
You don’t have to wait until your case turns out like Mr. Nonka, once you notice the following signs quickly see your dentist.
- Formation of tartar in your teeth.
- Mouth odour
- Bleeding and swollen gums.
- Weak and loose gums
- Teeth changes colour.
- Please don’t wait until you lose that precious teeth
How you can keep this disease at bay
Periodontal disease is preventable and there is no chance in god’s green earth you will have this disease if you adhere strictly to these simple dental rules:
- Brush your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing can help remove food particles from where the tooth brushes cannot reach. So, floss daily.
- Eat healthy and avoid sugary foods as much as you can.
- See a dentist to help you scale or scrape off the tartar in your teeth.
- Desist from chewing tobacco and quit smoking especially if your gum is inflamed already.
Please quickly see your dentist because researchers have proved that the bacteria in periodontal disease could shoot up other chronic diseases like heart diseases.