The FDA notes that approximately 70% of Americans over age 35 have some form of periodontal (“gum”) disease, which isn’t apparent at first, and that’s the problem. Undetected, it can travel throughout the body to negatively affect your overall well-being, putting you at risk for osteoporosis, dementia, heart attack, stroke, respiratory problems, diabetes’ complications, low infant birth weight, and more. In fact, periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss.
What is Periodontal (“Gum”) Disease?
Periodontal disease is a condition that affects the roots of the teeth and the gums that surround them. The first stage of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis, and with proper care it is completely reversible at this stage. It can be remedied with proper brushing and flossing at home, as well a thorough professional cleaning by our hygiene team.
Over time, the infection can continue to degrade the gums, causing small pockets to form around each tooth. Bacteria and debris can become trapped in these pockets, further contributing the infection and progression of the disease. Without adequate treatment, periodontal disease can cause tooth and severe bone loss.
Why is treatment necessary for Periodontal Disease?
Treating periodontal disease early can help to prevent spread of the disease, as well as repair damage that has already been done. If treatment is not provided, tooth and bone loss can occur. Treatment can help you keep your teeth, and can give you a healthier looking smile.
How do you know you have Periodontal Disease?
During your appointment, we’ll check your gums for signs of periodontal disease. We do this by measuring and examining the gum pockets around each tooth to look for signs of redness and inflammation. Some of the most common signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Gum inflammation
- Gum pain
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Mouth sores
What happens during treatment of Periodontal Disease?
Treatment for periodontal disease is specific to the stage of the condition, as well as the patient’s individual needs. One of the first lines of defense against gum disease is having a type of cleaning treatment called a scaling and root planing. This procedure is done by a hygienist, and involves removing debris and plaque buildup that has accumulated in the gingival pockets around each tooth. You may need to have a scaling and root planing done often to successfully treat gum disease and prevent it from getting worse.
Non-Surgical Therapy (Scaling & Root Planing)
To effectively address Periodontal Disease, the initial treatment is typically Scaling and Root Planing. Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. Standard cleanings only deal with plaque at or above the gum line.
“Scaling” is a necessary first step in the treatment process as it clears the way for a deeper cleaning. “Root Planing” involved cleaning tartar and plaque from below the gum line. Local anesthetics are also used to numb the area for greater comfort.
Once successfully completed, 4-6 weeks later, we will complete a “fine scale”. During this procedure, we will examine the patient’s response to the treatment and determine the periodontal maintenance interval which is typically every 3-4 months. With ultrasonics cleanings to address periodontal disease and improved home care, “gum” disease can be a thing of the past.