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    Dental treatment you constantly delayed… “Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”
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    Stay Healthy Until 100 with Healthy Teeth by Lee Sang-minDental treatment you constantly delayed…
    “Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”

    In fact, a dental clinic is not a place which you want to visit often. The sound—not to mention pain—of drilling dental instruments has the tendency to make you want to postpone your dental visit.

    The problem is you may close the stable door after the horse has bolted if you keep postponing your dental visit. In every column I write, I emphasize the importance of natural teeth. If you miss the right timing for treatment, you may end up having to pull out your natural teeth. Hence, today’s column looks at cases where you have no choice but to extract your natural teeth.

    The biggest reason you have to pull your natural teeth is periodontitis (periodontal disease). What causes periodontal disease is pieces of food stuck between your teeth and gums. Such pieces of food combine with bacteria to create plaque, and fortunately, plaque in early days can be removed with oral hygiene products such as toothbrush, dental floss, and interdental brush.

    The plaque that has not been removed, however, turns into calculus as calcification occurs where it combines with calcium in saliva and hardens. It is difficult to remove calculus, and the surface or bottom of calculus makes a good environment for plaque or bacteria to grow. In other words, another plaque occurs around calculus and turns into another calculus.

    Furthermore, plaque and bacteria in calculus release toxin, which attacks gum bones and is quite harmful for your dental health. More specifically, toxin leads to inflammation which undermines gum bones (alveolar bones) holding teeth in place. This condition is called periodontitis (periodontal disease). If left unattended, periodontal disease undermines the bones holding teeth together, which makes teeth shake or if worse fall out. This is how periodontitis occurs, for which people in the old days used to say teeth fall out due to the wind getting inside the gums.

    Therefore, to prevent tooth loss due to periodontal disease, it would be the best to remove calculus before it is built up and becomes problematic. That is why dentists recommend regular scaling to prevent periodontal disease.

    Then, when do you have to receive scaling? It usually takes three months when calculus is formed on the tooth surface and becomes difficult to remove. Hence, it is recommended to receive scaling every three months. If your dental condition is healthy with correct toothbrushing and oral hygiene products, it would be okay to receive it every six months.

    It becomes problematic when the gums are swollen and bleeding due to the periodontal disease that already occurred, which makes it difficult to clean up with scaling alone. In such cases, it is necessary to have gum treatment (i.e. curettage), which removes calculus and bacteria stuck in the tooth root after locally anesthetizing the gums, and gum surgery (i.e. periodontal surgery, periodontal flap surgery) may need to be considered depending on the case. However, healthy bones at least one third of the tooth root must be in place for gum treatment.

    If left unattended, periodontal disease undermines more than half of the tooth root, which makes teeth shake and bleed. In such cases, you cannot restore your natural teeth even if you want to. Hence, a dentist is left with no choice but to rely on a drastic measure of pulling teeth. If damaged, it is very difficult to restore teeth. I stress again that correct and thorough toothbrushing and regular scaling are the only way to protect your dental health.

    - Written by Lee Sang-min, Dentist and Director of Good Life Dental Hospital

    - Source: The Health Kyunghyang (