Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked to treat periodontal disease, an ounce of good dental care could prevent a lot of pain—both dental and financial.
Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself. Bacteria get caught between the teeth and also under the gum, forming a sticky substance called “plaque,” that hardens to form tartar.
This leads to an infection known as gingivitis. As it spreads deeper into the bone it begins to decay and pus forms, which causes swelling, redness, and bleeding. If not treated, the teeth will become loose and fall out.
Here, let me show you what advanced dental disease looks like:
Does that get your attnetion?! Great because there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to prevent this ugly situation and all of the very expensive treatments required to treat and (hopefully) reverse. It’s called routine preventive dental care.
If you remove the soft plaque from the gum margin around the teeth you will toughen the gum and prevent the disease. Here’s how to do that:
Yes, before you brush. You need to do this with a good dental rinse designed for pre-rinsing. Plax, is a good choice because it is designed to be used before brushing to help loosen and remove more plaque than brushing alone.
If you hate to floss for any reason at all, you really need to think about investing in a Waterpik device. It is cool, fun to use, and costs a fraction of a single professional cleaning.
Use a power brush such as the Oral-B Professional or Phillips Sonicare to effectively scrub and vibrate the soft plaque away. These devices are so amazing, it’s almost like getting a professional cleaning every time you brush. A power brush is well worth the investment. Just ask my personal dentist, Dr. Richard Oliver, Cypress, Calif.
Use a rubber tip stimulator to massage the gum between the teeth. This toughens the gum and makes it more impervious to bacterial infection. Follow up by using a quality tongue cleaner for extra fresh breath.
Finish up your daily routine with a good fluoride mouthwash.
Your routine dental care should include a good professional cleaning at least annually. This is an appointment you need to keep! And get ready. If you are routinely performing the steps above, the hygienist will be doing the happy dance while reaching for gold stars. You’ll deserve one for doing such a great job.
So what will all of this preventive dental care cost?
- Dental floss is cheap. You can get yards and yards of it at any drug or grocery store for a buck or two.
- Pre-rinse and gum stimulators are inexpensive as well, in the $5 range.
- Most rechargeable, battery-powered toothbrushes run in the $100 neighborhood.
- There are a number of Waterpik choices, in the $75 to $150 range, depending on which one you choose.
- Professional dental cleaning costs $75 – $200, depending mostly on your location and the individual dentist.
If you absolutely cannot afford a powered brush the best alternative is to brush with a soft-bristle, polyester toothbrush. The bristles should be pressed between the gum and the tooth surface at a 45-degree angle just as you would use a scrub brush to clean the angle between a floor and a wall. Brush horizontally, back and forth.
A systematic routine of flossing and brushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease. Let me say that again: A systematic routine of flossing and brushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease.
Now, in terms of the cost of failing to prevent dental disease, let me scare you to death.
If you have gum disease with no bone damage (called gingivitis) the cost of scaling and root planing with follow-up appointments may cost up to $1,800 or more.
If there is bone damage (called periodontitis) which needs surgical intervention, the surgical fee could tack on another $4,000 to $5,000—up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the disease. If bone needs to be re-grown by various bone regenerating methods, the cost may be an additional $300 to $400 per tooth. Should you be fortunate to have all 32 of your pearly whites, well, you do the math.
If you are unfortunate to have untreatable periodontal disease, extraction of hopelessly diseased teeth could cost $200 or more per tooth.
Here’s a Plan
Invest a little time and money on routine dental care to prevent gingivitis, periodontal and bone disease, teeth extractions, and dentures so you can spend your money on something else more enjoyable!
Published originally: 9-18-18; Updated & Republished 9-24-19
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