It is estimated that 50 percent or more of adults over the age of 30 have periodontal (gum) disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), and it might be much higher according to recent research.  It is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.  No matter how vigilant one is in their oral hygiene, the relentless development of plaque and the porous nature of teeth make them prone to decay.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque (a bacterial film) accumulates on tooth surfaces along and beneath the gum line.  At the most, your toothbrush can only reach 2-3 millimeters below the gum line to effectively clean it out.  When plaque is not removed it hardens into calculus/tartar, and needs to be — and can only be — scraped off with dental tools during a professional dental cleaning.  Symptoms of periodontal disease are not always obvious, and may not be discovered until after much damage has been done.

Removing plaque and tartar is essential because the body’s reaction to tartar is inflammation, like dirt in an unwashed wound, causing the bone and gum tissue to pull away from the tooth.  This results in deeper pockets between the gum and root where bacteria find a happy place to flourish.  The gums become sore, and they may bleed easily when brushing or chewing.  Another symptom may be persistent bad breath.  Over time, untreated infections of gum disease can spread beyond gum tissue to the underlying bone, causing gum recession, bone loss, loose teeth, and potential tooth loss.

It is vital that your annual Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation (CPE) be made an indispensable part of your oral health care regimen, to determine if you have or if you are at risk for periodontal disease, and to assess these six important factors related to your gum health:

  • Your teeth, and any restorations (fillings, crowns, implants, dentures)
  • Your plaque and tartar – location and amount
  • Your gums – location and depth of any pockets, rescission, inflammation
  • Your bite & signs of movement or loose teeth
  • Your bone structure, from X-rays, to determine any bone loss
  • Your risk factors – age, tobacco use, genetics, systemic conditions, etc.

Why Is It Such a Big Deal? Because of the potential adverse effect on one’s health, and not just oral health, but overall wellness — the bacterial infection from plaque can spread through the blood stream and affect other parts of the body.  Medical researchers have discovered links between periodontal disease and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases.

Since the comprehensive dental exam is designed to set a baseline of your health and to catch any early signs of serious illness that may be otherwise undetected, your dentist will be on the lookout for the following illnesses:

  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • High Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Oral cancer
  • Immune abnormalities
  • Sinus problems

By having a CPE exam on a yearly basis, your dentist can catch gum disease in its earliest stages when only a very small intervention is needed to halt or reverse it before permanent damage can occur.

If you are interested in periodontal evaluation in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.