Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Healthy gums are pink and firm, with no pain felt or bleeding when brushing or flossing. The best way to maintain the health of your gums is simply to brush and floss to remove the plaque from your teeth every day. Plaque is a sticky film that is constantly being formed around your teeth by oral bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can cause your gums (gingivae) to become irritated and inflamed, and to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets in which more bacteria will collect. This inflammation is called gingivitis and is characterized by red/purple, tender/swollen gums, and bleeding during brushing or flossing. Furthermore, if plaque continues to be left on the teeth it can harden into a build up called calculus. Because of its hardness and its location along and under your gums, calculus is difficult to remove without the help of your dentist. If left untreated, more serious periodontal disease can develop, with much more drastic consequences such as damage to the tissues that support your teeth and/or bone loss around the teeth, both of which can lead to premature tooth loss. Again, the good news is you can prevent periodontal disease by brushing and flossing thoroughly each day and visiting your dentist regularly.

Periodontal disease has been shown to be linked to other diseases, like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that diabetics who undergo periodontal treatment are able to control their blood sugar better after receiving the treatment. It has also been shown that by keeping oral health you can lower your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

If you have concerns about the health of your gums, call our office today to schedule a consultation!

Treatment: Scaling and Root plaining

Usually, the first line of treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root plaining. This treatment involves administering local anesthesia to remove calculus (buildup) and bacteria deposits from deep under the gums using specialized dental instruments. After the treatment some minor discomfort and swelling may occur. Rinsing with salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed with one cup of warm water) as well as taking medication (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol) may assist with discomfort and aid the healing process. Thorough removal of plaque and bacteria by daily brushing and flossing at home after the treatment is essential for a successful outcome of the procedure.

Periodontal Maintenance

Once you have been treated for periodontal disease a good maintenance schedule is essential. Periodontal maintenance is necessary to prevent the spread of disease in the gum tissue and surrounding bone that supports your teeth. The schedule is designed to remove the plaque and calculus that form above and below the gum-line to ensure the success of the initial scaling. As plaque is constantly forming, it can cause a recurrence of periodontal disease within two to four months of a professional cleaning, especially in the deep pocket areas. The extent and type of your periodontal disease and your healing ability will determine the frequency of your maintenance visits, with a general recommendation between once every three, four, or six months, depending on your individual needs.

THE BEST WAY to prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss is to follow the recommendations in your individual periodontal maintenance schedule that is designed by your dental team. If you haven’t been seeing your dentist regularly, call us to schedule your appointment today.