Chilean Miners’ Gum Disease

During the first 17 days that they were trapped underground, the 33 Chilean miners were unable to brush their teeth.  It wasn’t until a five-inch diameter connecting hole was drilled into their deep underground chamber that they had access to toothbrushes and other supplies.  Several of the men thus developed gum disease. The situation is a dramatic illustration of the importance of proper dental health care and of how quickly dental problems can develop.  The men received medical evaluations when they were rescued and gum disease was one of the health problems that was evident.  The men also suffered from poor nutrition and stress-related trauma.  They all received a full dental check-up and periodontal scaling to remove the plaque and calculus buildup.  It is expected that all of the miners will have a full medical recovery but their ordeal is a reminder of how quickly an individual can develop gum disease and the importance of regular dental care.

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