Considering the way we have grown up, we always think a pill or an ointment will help our medical problems. I was born way back when penicillin was discovered. Back then, a small amount of that antibiotic would do wonders for an infection. As time went on, it took more and more penicillin to kill the same type of bacteria. The bugs had developed a resistance to that specific type of penicillin. Now we have super bugs, untreatable with any medicine. So, it follows that treatment of periodontal disease, caused by your body’s inflammatory response to bacteria, has become more difficult to treat with antibiotics. Of course, there are many types of bacteria and many types of response that your specific body will have. Nevertheless, there are some things that you can do to have a healthier mouth without relying on drugs or medicine.
In previous articles I mentioned that the main two problems human beings have with their teeth is decay and periodontal disease, both caused by bacterial plaque. Decay comes sooner, as soon as a mother leaves a bottle in a baby’s mouth overnight. A Pedodontist can instruct young families how to prevent and treat early decay. Later in life periodontal disease rears its ugly head. There are some early types of periodontal disease, so timely visits to the dentist are important. But in most cases, bone loss is not noted until some bone loss is seen between the teeth on x-rays. Most dental insurance companies will not pay for treatment until bone loss is seen, and I think that is terrible. That bone will seldom regenerate, and with a little more bone loss, the tooth is well on its way to the wastebasket. When the crevice around the tooth becomes deeper than three millimeters it becomes difficult to clean all of the damaging plaque away, no matter how hard you try. And try you may. People use hard toothbrushes, overly forceful efforts, and all kinds of chemicals and drugs to get to the plaque way down below the three millimeter space. If those efforts and drugs were effective, we dentists wouldn’t be making dentures and implants!!
If you have been missing the bacterial plaque, your gums respond with a kind of allergic reaction, each person has his own response. Some have none, others lose their teeth in their twenties. You can’t change your genetic response, but there are some things you can do before you have some disaster that limits your seeing a dentist for a week or much longer. Get a dental exam by a dentist or a periodontist, and get treatment as needed. Get a second opinion if you wish. It is your mouth, and unlike medical insurance, you must always pay part or all of the bill. You don’t always need to get the most expensive treatment, which I will mention next time. But get your disease treated. Antibiotics won’t fix decay or gum disease, but may give some temporary relief. Good reason for preppers to stockpile antibiotics that do not give you an allergic reaction. If you have pain or swelling in the mouth, take the antibiotic as the bottle directs for at least a week, even if the problem gets better in a few days. Get to a dentist as soon as possible.
Using the cleaning methods as described in a previous article will clean to about three millimeters into the crevice between the tooth and the gum and should result in no pain or bleeding when done properly after a week or two. It is important to have professional cleanings every six or three months, as your dentist suggests. But if the spaces are deeper, they are harboring bacteria which may very well cause a periodontal abscess in the future and loss of a tooth. Your general dentist or hygienist may not be concerned with a five millimeter pocket, but as a periodontist, I am concerned. Long term use of antibiotics can help the gum disease a little, but will cause loss of the bacteria in the gut system and causes super bugs. Mouthwash doesn’t get into a pocket, the space deeper than three millimeter and the alcohol and other strong products may cause other problems with long term use. Hydrogen peroxide is useless, too. If you insist on a mouthwash, buy one that has no alcohol and has fluoride. Mouthwash and periodic cleanings alone won’t stop gum disease. As a prepper, I stockpile food instead of mouthwash.
Invest in dental health for your family. Prevention is much cheaper than treatment. A periodic dental exam is much nicer than a dental emergency! And clean every day like I mentioned, with brush, floss, rubber tip and proxybrush. Next time I will discuss some of the dental treatment options that you may consider for yourself and your family to save money. Prepping is expensive, but well worth it when the lights go out.