Gum Disease and Periodontal Treatments
Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can have dire consequences if not treated right away. Advanced gum disease can lead to gum recession, loose teeth, and even missing teeth. It can also lead to bacteria entering your bloodstream, which can contribute to serious health complications, like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. At Mark C. Waring DDS, we can treat your gum disease, and help your mouth to heal.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a progressive condition that is caused by plaque (the sticky film that accumulates on the surfaces of your teeth) and oral bacteria that occur naturally in your mouth. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits help to keep plaque and bacteria under control, but ignoring any part of your oral hygiene routine can quickly lead to an excess buildup. Both plaque and oral bacteria irritate your gum tissue, causing it to become red and inflamed. This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. While easily reversible, gingivitis is also easily overlooked due to the symptoms (red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush) being thought to be the cause of brushing too hard.
What Happens if Gum Disease is Untreated?
If gum disease is let untreated, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which cannot be removed with a toothbrush. Your swollen gums pull away from your teeth, creating pockets. Bacteria fall into these pockets, causing further irritation, and attacking your periodontal ligaments and jawbone. Over time, your gums begin to recede, and your teeth become loose. The longer your gum disease goes untreated, the worse the symptoms become, eventually leading to tooth loss and potentially serious health consequences.
Gum Disease Treatment: Periodontal Maintenance
Periodontal maintenance is a procedure used to remove plaque, tartar, bacteria and other debris from the surfaces of your teeth as well as deeper below the gumline than a traditional cleaning. It is essentially a “deep cleaning” for your mouth, performed when gum disease has started to become more severe.
Periodontal maintenance is usually done following scaling and root planing or a surgical procedure. It involves periodic visits, the frequency of which we determine based upon your specific situation. Some patients may need to come back every six months, while others may need to come back every two months.
There are several things that occur during periodontal maintenance, including:
Gum Disease Treatment: Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is the procedure used to remove buildup (plaque, tartar, bacteria, and other debris) from both the surfaces of your teeth as well as deep below the gum line, including the roots of your teeth. It is often done when the depth of your periodontal pockets measures 3 millimeters or deeper.
Scaling involves the use of a specialized scaling tool to remove buildup and other debris from the surfaces of your teeth, including around the gumline, which helps to remove irritation so that your gums can begin to heal.
Root planing is the process in which we smooth the surfaces of the roots of your teeth using specialized, thin instruments. With a successful root planing, your gums can more firmly reattach to the roots of your teeth. A smooth surface also makes it more difficult for new plaque and bacteria to accumulate. When both scaling and root planing is complete, an antimicrobial agent is delivered below the gumline, which is meant to kill off any lingering bacteria, helping to prevent infections and other serious complications.
Scaling and Root Planing After Care
Some special care following your scaling and root planing procedure can help to ease your discomfort and aid in healing. Avoid eating anything until the numbness has worn off. A saltwater rinse every few hours can help to alleviate your pain, as can over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Tylenol or ibuprofen). We may prescribe you a prescription mouthwash.
It is important that you maintain a regular oral hygiene routine as well. Brush your teeth at least twice a day (ideally, you should brush after every meal) and floss daily. Do these things gently to avoid irritating your gums. Maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen is essential for your gums to heal and prevent new gum disease from occurring.
Benefits of Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing and periodontal maintenance have many benefits:
Gum Disease and Periodontal Surgical Procedures
Sometimes, a deep cleaning of your teeth is not enough to treat your gum disease. When your periodontal pockets are too deep, our tools cannot effectively clean them out. In this instance, you may require a surgical procedure known as a pocket reduction surgery. With this surgery, we make incisions in your gums, gaining access to the roots of your teeth and the jawbone. We can then thoroughly clean your teeth. When we are finished, we stitch them closed snugly around your teeth.
Gum disease can also cause gum recession, which not only makes your teeth appear longer but can leave you susceptible to severe tooth sensitivity. It can also lead to bone loss, which can cause your teeth to become loose and even fall out. Gum recession can be corrected with a gum graft, which is a surgical procedure that takes soft tissue from elsewhere in your mouth (usually the palate) and sutures it over the areas of recession. Bone loss can be corrected with a bone graft, which is usually used to restore missing bone mass.
If you have gum disease, getting treatment right away is critical for restoring the health of your mouth. For more information, or to schedule your appointment, call Mark C. Waring DDS today at (480) 820-4342.