I am writing this as I am recovering from yet another surgery - this is my 6th in 2 years…not again! I had breast cancer in 2012 with a double mastectomy followed up by 5 more surgeries because of structuring issues with breast implants. And, thank God, just had the implants removed.. forever.. yesterday after three years of silicone toxicity. This road to recovery can be daunting! I had a patient come in the other day complaining about his gums bleeding. After explaining his treatment, he understood what was needed for a satisfactory outcome, a deeper scaling followed up by three month periodic deeper cleanings and periodontal therapy. As I sat there explaining to him about bone loss and attachment loss it reminded me of my own health issues. There is a definite parallelism between periodontal disease and cancer…No one wants it and no one wants to revisit it! It reminds me of my periodontal patients who come in three to four times a year saying, “Is this really necessary? Is there any way that I can push this off a few months?” Whether it is cost or not seeing the value of their oral health and overall health, patients find it hard sometimes to justify that extra thorough cleaning that balances, or tips the scale between disease and health.
One patient stated that he was going to ‘prove the system wrong' and be seen every year for his periodontal condition. He stated that oil pulling, a different toothbrush and a cocktail of cayenne and lemon would make all the difference. To me it is like telling a diabetic, ‘let's just wait on exercise, or health or anything that lessens the cause of diabetes.' Some times its retraining the patient to let them know the value of their mouth and how the entire oral cavity is linked to many different organ systems in the body. The gentleman who staved off his care to prove the system wrong, ultimately confessed that his ‘gums were bleeding again.' He succumbed to the notion that a healthy mouth means a healthy body. We ended up retreating his condition. It reminds me of the surgeries that I have been through. Trust me, know one wants to continue down this road, each time I end up in surgery it reminds me of the day my doctor first told me I had cancer. It is a repeat diagnosis. So is periodontal disease. But it doesn't have to have a negative connotation.
We need to view periodontal disease differently - yes it is a disease, but with the right tools, education, proper maintenance and therapy it can be managed, and have a satisfactory outcome. I have found that when my periodontal patients come in to see me, we lessen the disease state and qualify and quantify the goals and progress made. We don't just sit on the pocketing values as a basis for the gold star, and we don't beat the patient up for the bleeding noted, but we look at everything the patient is doing to encourage personal growth toward well-being. Sometimes it isn't about the Sonicare toothbrush, its the events that play out in our lives that lead us to this path. Is it stress, finances, personal issues, health and/or autoimmune issues? Sometimes wading through the patient's personal life and being a life coach is enough to get the patient back on track. And when they are on the correct path, coming through that door every three months they won't say…..Not again! They'll say, “I'm here!”
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