There is a basic difference between, dental problems and medical problems.
In medical problems, the symptoms come first and the damage happens later. For example, if you have a stomach ache, you visit the doctor and the problem / ailment gets diagnosed and treated. In dental problems, the damage happens first and the symptoms appear later.
There are many oral conditions, that do not show any symptoms till they are quite advanced. In order to detect these conditions in time, it is mandatory that one visits a dentist, every six months. Here are some very common dental conditions, for which the it is incredibly important to see the dentist regularly.
A dental cavity or decay is a very common tooth problem. However it shows no symptoms, till a very advanced stage. A tooth has three layers. The outermost first layer ie enamel, the one inner to that, the second layer ie dentine and the innermost third layer ie the nerve layer or the pulp layer. If the cavity is in the first or second layer, there is no symptom like pain, sensitivity etc. Its only when the cavity extends to the third or innermost layer ie the nerve layer, that there is pain which could be acute or moderate. This could be spontaneous or when one tries to eat/ chew. Sometimes when the nerve of the third layer gets involved in the cavity and a person drinks some cold liquid, there is shooting pain. At other times the cavity extends to the nerve and still the patient does not get any symptoms. This cavity/ decay which is nothing but bacteria, causes the death of the nerve. This is like a silent heart attack. One is not even aware of the nerve dying. Later this may be exhibited in the form of swelling/ pus, at the bottom of the root of the tooth in the gum. Once the decay has reached the third layer which is the nerve layer, the tooth is beyond the filling/ restoration stage. It needs the nerve to be treated by a process called, Root Canal. Here the infected nerve is removed, the canals in the roots of the tooth are sterilized and then filled. However the tooth becomes brittle after the removal of the nerve and blood supply, thus it can fracture under the chewing load if not capped. Hence it is mandatory for a root canal tooth to be capped.
If a person goes for regular six monthly checkups, then the cavity can be detected at an initial stage. The filling that needs to be done is small, the compromise on the natural tooth structure is minimal and the cost is also less. The life and integrity of the tooth is maintained for a long period of time. Letting the tooth reach the root canal stage, leads to more compromise in the natural tooth structure, the devitalisation of tooth as the nerve and blood supply is removed and more expenditure for both the root canal and the cap/ crown.
Many people unknowingly have a gum condition called gngivitis. Here the gums are affected and infected. This condition also usually shows no symptoms. If not treated it progresses spontaneously and leads to periodontitis. Just like a building has a foundation, the foundation of the teeth are the gums and bone in which the roots of the tooth are embedded. Ginigivitis is a condition where only the gums are affected. Periodontitis is the next stage of the disease, where the ailment spreads from the gums to the bone. It is in the periodontitis stage there are symptoms like, swelling of gums, bleeding, foul breath and in advanced cases tooth mobility. In case the tooth is treated at the gingivitis stage, only a basic dental procedure like scaling and polishing or root planing is needed. Incase the tooth reaches the periodontitis stage, more advanced gum treatments are required viz… curettage, flap surgery with or without bone grafting. In some severe cases periodontitis, so much erosion of the bone happens that the teeth are so mobile that they cant be salvaged and have to be removed. Six monthly dental check ups and scaling and polishing of teeth ensures the gums and underlying bone is healthy and the teeth have a long life.
Sometimes the bite of the teeth ie the way the teeth meet with each other is such that it is traumatic. This means that the inner surface of the upper front teeth, get continuous pressure and trauma from the lower front teeth.This gradually causes flaring of the upper front teeth and damage to the supporting structure of the gums and bone, leading to periodontitis and mobility of the upper front teeth. Till a dentist does not check the patient clinically this bite problem does not get diagnosed.
Thus it is important that one visits a dentist regularly for six monthly clean and check ups. Dentists in Delhi especially in reputed dental clinics like, “Smile Delhi- The Dental Clinic“, send a six monthly reminder to their patients . This helps them to treat their problems at the beginning stage thus maintaining the integrity and life of the teeth.
Posted By – Dr. Suprriya B. Bhatia