Why Is Periodontal Disease Under Diagnosed?
The primary why reason periodontal disease has gone undiagnosed in so many people is because the disease is asymptomatic, says Dr. Akram Rafla. A periodontist in Worcester, MA, Dr. Rafla says that millions are people are walking around with periodontal disease without even realizing it.
Although it’s unfortunate that so many people have periodontal disease without knowing it, Dr. Rafla says that it shouldn’t be unexpected. Periodontal disease is just one of many diseases that presents no telltale symptoms and no specific pain, causing people who have it to continue on with their lives without realizing that anything is wrong.
Of course, there eventually comes a time when periodontal disease does begin to show up in the form of painful symptoms, and it is at this point when sufferers immediately know that something is wrong. Dr. Rafla says that in its final stages, periodontal disease can lead to significant discomfort in the mouth. However, by the time this discomfort begins, it is already too late for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
For the most part, Dr. Rafla says that periodontal disease is usually diagnosed through routine examinations performed by general dentists. There are very specific criteria that should be used to classify patients who have periodontal disease. These have been identified by the American Academy of Periodontology to judge not only which patients have periodontal disease but also what level of the disease they currently have.
As a periodontist, however, Dr. Rafla says that not all general dentists do a thorough enough job during their routine evaluations and semi-annual exams to determine whether their patients have periodontal disease. And certainly, periodontal disease is not something that people can diagnose themselves.
To make sure that a proper examination is done, Dr. Rafla recommends that people ask their dentists specifically to check for signs of gum disease during their routine cleanings and checkups. Many dentists do not automatically test for signs of gum disease during basic dental cleanings, which is why Dr. Rafla says that patients should specifically ask for this type of evaluation.
Regardless of age or whether any outward symptoms have begun showing up, Dr. Rafla insists that people need to be vigilant about asking their general dentists to check for signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a serious problem, and the longer it goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more irreversible damage it can cause.
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