Gum disease is BAD

So – I am an orthodontist.

Why do I spend so much of my working day talking about gums and plaque and tooth brushing and flossing and gum disease and periodontal issues?

Because if you do not keep your teeth and braces clean when you are wearing braces, you get decalcification – permanent marks on your teeth.

You also get gum disease.

Gum disease is BAD.

It is bad for your gums, which swell, get red and inflamed and ultimately recede if the gum disease goes on too long.

It is bad for the bone that is there to keep your teeth solidly in place.  Gum disease, when left untreated, will cause the bone to disappear from around your teeth.  This makes the teeth less stable, and eventually, when so much bone is lost that the roots of the teeth are no longer sufficiently covered in bone, the teeth will get loose.


We know that having long term, chronic, gum disease increases your chances of getting the following conditions (this list is very far from comprehensive)

Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, low birth weight infants, kidney problems, respiratory disease.

So that is why I nag (yes, I admit it, I nag) my patients about tooth brushing and gum disease – because it is important.

TV and teeth

Last night i watched a TV programme.  It was entitled ‘The truth about your teeth’.

In general, it did a good job of raising awareness of regular care of your teeth and gums.  However – and this was an OMG moment for me – it showed one of the programme participants having implants placed by a private dentist in the UK.

Here was the OMG part – the programme implied that the participant did not have any pre-operative periodontal care before her old teeth were extracted and immediate implants were placed.  The extractions were shown live, and the dentist even said that her gum disease had caused so much bone loss that the extractions were very easy.  The dentist did say that care of her implants was MORE challenging than care of the natural dentition, but she hadn’t cared for her natural teeth at all, and had severe gum disease.  How long will those implants last??

Braces are great!!

I love braces – of course I would say that…….wouldn’t I?

I love what braces did for my own smile many, many years ago.

I loved my orthodontist Dr George Kennedy – he truly was the inspiration for my career.  He was a gentleman and a super clinician who back in the day when CPD was not known off and the internet wasn’t even a sparkle in anyone’s eye continued to strive to improve his knowledge and skills.  He travelled to Europe and the US and spent time with eminent clinicians, learning what they could teach him.

I was very lucky, that when I returned from my specialist training in Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr Kennedy was still practicing, still learning, still going to continuing education courses and still full of fun!

I remember he sat beside me at my very first Orthodontic Society of Ireland meeting, listening to the legendary Lyle Johnson and encouraged me to ask questions.  He was just a great man and a great orthodontist.

I love what braces do for my patient’s smiles today.  There is nothing better, as an orthodontist, to see that smile when you hand the ex-braces wearer the mirror when you have just taken off their braces for the big reveal of their new smile!

Braces really are cool!