October 26, 2007

Tooth loss a concern

by Dr. Keith John 26.OCT.07

Tooth loss has become a concern in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, since with the increase availability of dental services here there has not been a sufficient decrease in the morbidity with respect to the oral cavity. It is with this growing concern that I seek to write about dental health.{{more}}

Tooth loss has various causes, the main ones being tooth decay (dental caries), periodontal gum disease and accidents. These being of a morbid nature, we shall seek to expound on the first two.

Tooth decay is caused by the destructive nature of the acids produced as a byproduct of the degradation of food, mainly carbohydrates, by the sticky layer of microorganisms found around the teeth forming plaque. If left untreated, this destruction can lead to immense suffering and the eventual loss of the tooth, or even the destruction of adjacent teeth.

Treatment of this most frequently occurring disease among human beings can be classed as:

1. Prevention: -the most important thing you can do is brushing and flossing after every meal and before going to bed. The best defence is to remove plaque daily before it has a chance to build up and cause problems. Brushing removes plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and, if done correctly, from just under the gums. Flossing removes plaque between teeth. A reduction of eating between meals especially in a situation where brushing is not possible are sealants and fluoride application for children.

2. Rehabilitation – (a) in the early stages of the decay (before the pulp is affected) a filling can be done to restore the lost tooth structure,

(b) In the case where there is extensive decay or that the pulp is compromised, then a root canal must be done and the tooth reinforced by the placement of a crown.

Periodontal gum disease is a potentially serious infection that can erode bone and destroy the tissues surrounding teeth is also caused by plaque. The same preventative methods apply as with prevention of tooth decay.

Treatment in the early stages, root scaling and regular cleanings are necessary for the removal of plaque and tarter buildup which will allow for the reattachment of the surrounding tissues and hence the prevention of tooth lost.

If the tooth decay or mobility from gum disease is beyond restoration then tooth loss is imminent and rehabilitation will be in the form of prosthesis: this being by way of dentures, bridges or implants.

Dr Keith John DDS
S.V.G Dental
Email: kajmahal_99@hotmail.com