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How to Adequately Answer Patients Who Question Why Gum Disease Can’t Be Cured

Ask the Expert ForumCategory: Periodontal TherapyHow to Adequately Answer Patients Who Question Why Gum Disease Can’t Be Cured
guestuser Staff asked 7 years ago

Hi Jill, I have always wondered how to adequately answer patients who question why gum disease can’t be cured, especially after they had SRP years ago and they have had no pocketing/bleeding or infection issues since that time. I usually talk to them about the bone loss that occurred at the time of the deeper infection but I’d like to be able to talk to them about the tissue as well. Shawna

1 Answers
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA Staff answered 3 years ago

This is a great issue to address since a main component of treatment success is effective communication. Patients need to understand that while their current oral health status may be stable, it’s possible that periodontal breakdown could recur. One of the risk factors for developing a future periodontal disease condition is past history of periodontitis. So if this concept could be explained to patients it may make it easier for them to understand why a cure isn’t possible. It’s confusing to think of periodontitis as a “disease” when in reality it’s not just one “disease” but numerous destructive conditions. When patients hear the word “disease’ they think a cure is possible. Explain how periodontal conditions are more like syndromes with periods of flare-ups and periods of remission. With appropriate self-care and professional measures, it’s possible to control the flare-ups and to keep the destructive process under control. My husband, a Board-certified periodontist, suggested the use of the term “periodontal syndrome” more than 10 years ago. Here’s a recent article in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association that further explains the concept: Periodontitis: A Syndromic Condition

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