Dental Disease Has Become Know as a “Silent Disease”
Gum disease, Chronic dead tooth nerves, and tooth cavities can be low-grade infections (slow to progress and chronic in nature) and therefore frequently sub-clinical in nature. Subsequently pain and symptoms are often undetected by the patient.
At times dental disease destroys bone cells or tooth cells so slowly that the body cannot detect the destructive process. For this reason, dental disease has become know as a “silent disease.” Cumbersomely, a similar example is how chronic cancer silently destroys tissue cells and progresses without pain or symptoms.
In order to understand this process, one should recognize that there are two types of infections: acute and chronic.
During acute (fast moving) infections a large number of tissue cells are damaged during a given time. With an acute infection, large amounts of intracellular contents are released all at once from these damaged cells into the extracellular matrix. This volume of intracellular contents can be detected by our nerve endings (i.e. the pain signal is sent to your brain).
Chronic infections, on the other hand, can still destroy the same amount of cells as acute infections, but the damage is not detected as it occurs over a longer period time. This is unfortunate because with no pain or symptoms the disease is often left to progress undetected.
The reason you don’t feel pain from chronic infections is because the body cells are destroyed at a slow rate and over a relatively long period of time. During this time, our nerve endings are not sensitive enough to detect the small amount of cell content that is released by the damaged cells.
Yes, chronic gum disease is not likely to be debilitating over night, but its affects are irreversible and progress in severity. Deciding to delay or never treating a slow moving infection means the progression and subsequent damage will increase over time. In the case of dental problems, adjacent teeth and bone will can be affected. Once the delayed treatment becomes a medical necessity, patients are more like to experience a decreased success rates. Waiting also means you will likely experience more side effects once treatment is started like pain, swelling and delayed healing.
Patients who base treatment decisions on the presence or absence of pain often make the wrong choice. We support all of our patients, even the ones that feel the need to put off treatment until something breaks or the pain sets in. Its always our goal to provide optimal care for every patient.
Dr Landers takes the time to explain the risk and benefits, and offers his patients comprehensive solutions for their dental problems.