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The Mouth Is Connected to…The Rest of the Body

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“Patients need to know that their mouths are connected to the rest of their bodies,” says Sharde Harvey, DDS, who has a cosmetic and general practice in New York City. “I discuss the oral-systemic link with my patients and the impact of untreated periodontal disease.” Dr. Harvey points out that this conversation is especially important for her patients with diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Harvey’s routine oral maintenance program starts with a periodontal exam to establish a baseline for each patient. That evaluation then leads to recommendations based on inflammation, bleeding, probing depths, calculus, and the patient’s oral hygiene habits. Based on her findings, Dr. Harvey performs scaling and root planing (SRP) and treats specific pockets with ARESTIN, a locally applied antibiotic that can be used in tandem with SRP to attack the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. “I use ARESTIN when patients have inflammation, bleeding gums, and probing depths of 5 to 9 mm,” says Dr. Harvey. She recalls these patients every 3 months to reinforce oral hygiene, evaluate, and provide treatment as needed.

Dr. Harvey says that ARESTIN applied after SRP is very effective at controlling periodontal disease. “I see the gingiva change from red and edematous to pink and stippled in about 1 week,” she says. “When used in combination with SRP, ARESTIN appears to be more effective at disrupting the progression of periodontal disease than SRP alone.” Dr. Harvey also finds that it works faster and longer. “I see a minimum decrease in pocket depth of 1 to 2 mm in patients who had 5 to 7 mm pockets.”

Education is the key to Dr. Harvey’s success with treatment acceptance. “I spend a lot of time educating patients about why they have periodontal disease and the contributing factors,” she says. “Once they understand those factors, they’re ready to buy into treatment that will help them control the disease.”

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