The Silent Killer

What is the “Silent Killer?” In the dental field, Dr. Potter at The Plano Dentist refers to the Silent Killer as gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease and gingivitis, gum disease involves inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, the gums, and the tooth sockets.

The Silent Killer has recently received much attention in the media because of its connection to a myriad of other health problems. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), involving 10,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 74, found that people with periodontal disease were much more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those without periodontal disease.

Dr. Potter is concerned that many people don’t know they have gum disease because it doesn’t always hurt. After all, for years the first question the physician asks a patient has been “what are your symptoms” or “where does it hurt?” Therefore, people are trained to think something is wrong only if it hurts.

Unfortunately, people’s ignorance here could result in many other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, premature birth and fertility problems.

Dr. Potter wants to educate his patients on the risks, symptoms and prevention techniques for this Silent Killer.

Risks:
• General illness.
• Poor dental hygiene.
• Pregnancy.
• Uncontrolled diabetes.
• Tobacco smoking or chewing.
• Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives.
• Bridges that no longer fit properly.
• Crooked teeth.
• Fillings that have become defective.

Symptoms:
• Bleeding gums (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth).
• Bright red or red-purple appearance to gums.
• Gums that are tender when touched, but otherwise painless.
• Mouth sores.
• Swollen gums.
• Shiny appearance to gums.
• Gums that have pulled away from the teeth.
• Persistent bad breath or bad taste.
• Permanent teeth that are loose or separating.
• Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
• Any change in the fit of partial dentures.

Prevention:
Brush your teeth well twice a day.
Clean between your teeth every day.
• Eat a balanced diet.
• Visit your dentist regularly.

Dr. Potter believes the good news is that gum disease is preventable by taking good care of your teeth every day and having regular dental checkups.