From warning signs to treatment options, this book provides a trove of useful and often surprising facts about dental health.
In this new fourth edition, Sydney (Periodontics/Univ. of Maryland School of Dentistry) gives a brief history of dentistry, describes oral anatomy and what frequently goes wrong, and offers practical advice for combating gum disease. The volume benefits from a clear layout, logical arrangement of information, and first-rate figures showing, for example, a tooth in cross section or the progression of periodontal disease. It begins with evidence of ancient civilizations’ teeth problems, swiftly bringing things closer to the present day by inserting short profiles of key scientists, along with amusing trivia, such as early attempts at tooth transplantation showing up in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. The top cause of gum disease is plaque, due to bacteria. Today periodontal disease affects 75 percent of adults worldwide, the author writes, yet all too often people are blasé about it. “Bleeding in the mouth…has been considered ‘normal’ for so long that this important early warning sign is being ignored,” he regrets. Discoloration and inflammation (gingivitis—the first stage of gum disease) are two other symptoms to watch for. Sydney emphasizes that dental health and systemic health are interrelated, though not as a simple cause and effect. Maintaining a healthy mouth is thus crucial for overall health and vice versa; poor diet and smoking can wreak havoc on teeth. The informal “From my files” case studies deliver a nice change of pace and style, and chapters detailing what to expect from a visit to the periodontist and the various types of surgery and dental implants available are well-suited to laymen. Perhaps the most helpful section of all provides step-by-step instructions and diagrams for brushing and flossing—not as straightforward as one might think. For one thing, Sydney advises first using a dry brush to remove plaque before flossing and applying toothpaste as a polish. Clip art and a few typos (for example, “Forcasting” in a chapter title) detract only slightly from the volume’s professional appearance.
All the information a reader would expect from a textbook on gum disease, lucidly explained.