Gum disease not only under-diagnosed but it is under-treated. Dentists and medical doctors are now working together to educate patients on the severe side effects of gum disease, or periodontal disease, in an attempt to keep patients healthy and to live longer lives.
Each year more studies come out linking gum disease to another disease in the body; first it was heart disease, then diabetes, and now pancreatic cancer and pre-term birth. The bacteria in the mouth gets into the blood stream and wreaks havoc on the other parts of the body.
Once a dental hygienist or dentist has informed you that you have gingivitis you should be taking every precaution to avoid being diagnosed with full-blown periodontal disease. The reason being is that gingivitis is reversable. Periodontal disease is not.
A good analogy is to look at “gingivitis” and “gum disease” like you might look at the conditions “pre-diabetic” and “diabetes.” One is reversable if the person diagnosed is informed in the early stages and modifies their behavior, the other can only be maintained. Gingivitis should be taken as seriously as pre-diabetes. Your dentist and hygienist should be having these conversations with you at your hygiene visits.
Find out if you are susceptible to gum disease by taking this gum disease risk assessment.
Recently, an article in RDHmag.com written by a former hygienist highlights how even diagnosed periodontal disease got her dentist sued and she was named as the co-defendant due to the serious complications of untreated gum disease. In her article the patient was diagnosed but never came back for her appointment and the dentist was liable for the negligence. Because of situations like these dentists and hygienists are very careful to diagnose and treat gum disease cases.