Periodontal (Gum Disease) Treatment
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually a painless and chronic problem, you may not know you have it. It is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. If plaque isn’t removed and allowed to grow, it can cause your gums to become inflamed and infected.
When this happens, the gums pull away from the teeth and form deeper pockets which cause more plaque to get trapped that cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss.
Most dental hygienists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every six months. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary during treatment of dental and other oral disorders. Routine examination of the teeth is recommended at least every year. This may include yearly, select dental X-rays. See also dental plaque identification procedure and removal. Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene helps to prevent cavities, tartar build-up, and gum disease.
Did you know?
Warning signs you may have gum disease include:
Factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease:
Diagnosis of gum disease
Depend on the type of the gum disease and how severe it is. If the disease is caught early (when it is gingivitis), and no damage has been done to the supporting structures under the teeth, you may simply need a professional cleaning. We can give you tips for improving your daily oral hygiene.
Even with these measures, some patients develop more severe periodontal disease. The first step in treating the disease usually involves a special deep cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” In this treatment, your hygienist or dentist removes plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal (gum) pocket. The root surfaces of the teeth are then smoothed (or “planed”) to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth. This treatment is usually done in two visits, depending on your needs. Topical and local anesthetic is usually used in order to ensure your comfort during this procedure.
We may recommend medications to help control infection and pain or to aid healing.
If you smoke or chew tobacco, it is important to quit as smoking greatly increases your periodontal disease risk and prevents healing.
Another dental visit will be scheduled within 4-6 weeks after your last scaling and root planing treatment. At this visit, your dentist or hygienist will look at your gums to see how they have healed. We will measure the periodontal pockets again. If the pockets have gotten deeper and the supporting bone is lost, more treatment may be needed. Sometimes a referral to a periodontal specialist, a periodontist, is required if the standard treatment is not successful.
Periodontal maintenance visits will follow every 3-4 months which are cleaning appointments that help to maintain and stabilize those with gum disease. Like a regular cleaning, any plaque and tartar is removed from teeth, but increased attention will be given to cleaning deeper pockets remaining around teeth. Many people require periodontal maintenance for life. However, some people whose gum disease is mild and responds very successfully to treatment may be able to switch back to regular cleanings after their gum condition is shown to be healthy and stable.