DEEP CLEANING: THERAPY FOR ACTIVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE (GUM DISEASE)
Even if you are not experiencing pain, you may still have periodontal disease (gum disease). In fact, 70% of all adults over 40 have some measure of periodontal disease.
If you are looking at this page, it may be that we have recommended a deep cleaning (Root Planing and Scaling). This is because we have found numerous areas where the pocket in the gums around your teeth are more than 5 millimeters (a quarter inch) deep. Even the best tooth brusher and flosser can not reach that far below the gums to repair this problem.
Root planing and Scaling with anesthesia is the only way to stop the progress of active periodontal disease (gum disease).
How do you know if you have periodontal disease (gum disease)?
Often the signs of gum disease are subtle. If you have red gums that bleed easily or bad breath, it could be periodontal disease.
But the actual proof of the disease is measurable. Through a detailed examination of your gums the dentist may find that the normal attachment of gums to your teeth is slowly deteriorating. This is creating pockets of infection that will continue to deepen if left untreated.
What if you ignore the signs of periodontal disease?
A normal healthy pocket depth is a scant 1 or 2 millimeters. Teeth have to be extracted if we find a pocket of 10 millimeters or more. If we have found a pocket of 6 millimeters in your mouth, then you are half way there! In our practice, we refer patients to a gum specialist if we find pocket depths greater than 8 millimeters, because pockets of this severity require gum surgery to correct. Naturally, one of our goals is to stop the disease process long before you get there.
Why do people get periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is very closely linked to your genetics. If one of your parents lost their teeth and had dentures, then there is a good chance that periodontal disease was part of that equation and they might have passed that tendency to you.
The process of periodontal disease usually begins with the build up of hard, calcified substances called tartar along the root surfaces of each tooth. As this material increases, it creates a rough ledge under which bacteria can grow just below the gums. This low grade infection causes the bone between each tooth to dissolve, and this, in turn, leaves more room for tartar and bacteria to collect in a pocket under the gums. The process snowballs.
The only way to arrest this cycle of build up and further deterioration is to thoroughly clean the root surfaces of every tooth to reduce the likelihood of continued build up. After that, we will recommend that you come for routine visits every 3 months to keep the tarter build-up from returning.
Typical therapy for periodontal disease (gum disease) follows this plan:
- Appointment 1: At this visit we will thoroughly numb both upper and lower teeth on one side of your mouth and remove the tartar from the root surfaces. Our anesthesia will assure you have no discomfort during the procedure. This appointment takes 2 hours.
- Appointment 2: This visit will be exactly like your first visit except we will work on the upper and lower teeth on the opposite side of your mouth. This visit also takes 2 hours.
- Appointment 3: At this appointment, we will complete any fine details of cleaning each tooth, making sure that every piece of tarter has been removed. This visit does not require anesthesia. This visit takes 1 hour.
- Appointment 4: Three months after the third appointment, we will have you return for a periodontal maintenance cleaning through which you should be much more comfortable. At the end of this visit we will compare your pocket depths to your original measurements, and we should be able to judge the success of our therapy and recommend a cycle of routine periodontal maintenance cleanings that would best keep gum disease from becoming active again in your mouth. For most people it is important to perform a periodontal maintenance cleaning every three months following the Root Planing and Scaling.
Our dental hygienists have had exceptional training in this procedure and will pass on to you all the knowledge you need to manage your gums in a healthy state between visits to our office. Our goal is to see all your pocket depths improve and then stabilize for many years because the inflammation process is stopped.
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of this kind of periodontal disease (gum disease) are not often obvious and this may be the first time you have ever been made aware of the problem. While we can greatly decrease the problems caused by inflammation with this kind of therapy, the bone itself will never grow back so we must do what we can to stop the advancement of the process immediately.
The inconspicuous nature of gum disease and the permanency of its effects make it imperative that we treat gum disease very vigorously as soon as it is detected, and then monitor the health of your gums in the future on a very routine schedule. We sincerely appreciate the confidence you have shown in us by working with our team to assure the long lasting health of your smile.
Periodontal disease can be very generalized throughout the mouth or it can occur around single teeth in a mouth. It is important to realize that gum disease is a chronic low-grade infection. Just like an infection in any other place in your body, gum disease forces your immune system to devote precious resources to the area in an effort to rid the body of harmful pathogens. Recent studies have shown that this “immune response” is linked to other problems with general health such as heart disease.
Keep in mind that most people have no obvious symptoms of their conditions, but a couple signs of gum disease are: bad breath or bleeding when brushing. The only way to know if you have generalized or isolated sights of gum disease is to visit a dental practice, every six months, where gum pockets around your teeth are measured routinely.