I don't want to be 25 and toothless!
July 24, 2012 8:24 AM Subscribe
How worried should I be about my teeth?
posted by aintthattheway to health & fitness (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I went in for a routine cleaning with a new dentist 2-3 months ago, where my gums were measured and I was told I had periodontal disease and needed "laser curettage" and "planing and root scaling" procedures on the four quadrants of my mouth. I have dental insurance, but they only cover a few hundred dollars off the cost, leaving me to pay a little over $800.
I spoke to my parents about this, who seemed extremely skeptical, having never had the procedure pushed on them. They have all their teeth and what I would consider to be standard oral hygiene. My last cleaning (in my home state, with my long-time dentist) was in October of 2011, where nothing was amiss, and when I asked about the diagnoses and mentioned that the dentist had said I had some 4-5 and I think one 6mm pocket, he also seemed skeptical given my records.
While I planned to get a second opinion, I decided to oral hygiene the hell out of my teeth in the meantime. Before the appointment I'd been brushing regularly, but I'd lost my Sonicare toothbrush, been skipping out on regular flossing and been doing it only occasionally (a sin I have been guilty of in the past, although to no adverse effect).
After the appointment, I got a "gum care" Sonicare toothbrush with which I brushed twice a day, started flossing 1-2 times a day strictly, and used mouthwash 1-2 times a day (and occasionally peroxide). The inflammation seemed to go down and I got a little sidetracked with life in my quest for a second opinion.
Last week, however, I noticed that my back three molars on the upper sides of my teeth were again red and inflamed, particularly the gum area between where the teeth meet. There's quite a bit of tartar/plaque build-up on these teeth as well, and I can't tell if there's been any recession but I suppose it is possible. They definitely aren't loose or anywhere near that. My gums do not bleed when I floss. The rest of my teeth -- the front ones on the top and all the bottom teeth -- look quite healthy and the gums look pretty normal, I think. When I smile, my teeth still look normal, but in pulling back my lips I can see the inflammation around the top back teeth.
I bit the bullet and agreed to the "deep cleaning" procedure, mostly out of panic. The soonest I could get the appointment is next Monday, but I can't stop panicking. Because one of the pockets was 6mm and apparently in the "severe" range, and I put it off, I'm terrified they're going to tell me I need full-on gum surgery or I'm going to lose my teeth. I am, in fact, so panicked that I couldn't really sleep much last night. But somehow I have to pull it together and make it until Monday the 30th.
Other relevant information: I am an otherwise healthy, 24-year-old female, and I haven't had any serious problems with my teeth before this (I had some cavities as a kid, and had my wisdom teeth removed around four years ago). I don't smoke or have diabetes. I do drink coffee regularly. I switched recently to plastic flossing pick things, which I fear I might have gotten too enthusiastic with, which is ultimately how I noticed the inflammation.
I'm looking for information on what to expect, given what I've shared here. Is it likely I will need gum surgery, or would a routine deep cleaning procedure probably take care of it? I really need my nerves calmed as I'm already prone to anxiety, having an incredibly stressful summer, and tooth loss would just push me over the edge. Google is unfortunately doing very little to help me understand the situation, as there is no consensus and opinions range from "Planing and root scaling is a scam!" to "If you have 6mm pockets you will probably get cancer and die."
I know you are not my dentist, but... help?