Well, it's happened again and it's so sad.
One of our longtime patients came in for a regular recare/recall hygiene visit. He's a seasonal resident and we share in his care with his dental office back home so we see him only once a year.
He's older and got 'sick' about a year ago, and with hospitalization and rehab, he missed his six month dental visit. While being seen by our hygienist I was called over to examine him earlier than usual. The hygienist had seen large and unexpected decay in many teeth and was very concerned. After x-rays we examined him and the scene was not pretty. Many teeth had been attacked and damaged, some beyond repair.
Why?- his debilitating sickness with poor oral hygiene practices, coupled with needed and important medications that dry out the mouth and a soft/sweet diet had led to conditions where bacteria thrive and decay rages very quickly through an otherwise intact dentition.
He told me that the medications made his mouth so dry that he had taken to using hard candy all the time, even falling asleep with the candy still in his mouth.
If we had known we would have recommended sugarless and Xylitol containing candy and gums that would have stimulated his saliva glands while inhibiting the organisms that cause decay and gum disease. Also we could have treated him while the damage was small and easy to fix.
That's why I have a patient Newsletter, Web site letter and BLOG. I want the word out and to see the end of problems like these. As a Sarasota dentist whose patient population tends towards the older resident it's my job to help with prevention as much as with treatment. And if you know of anyone with the conditions described above (or their caregiver), please make them aware of this information.