THERAPY FOR ACTIVE GUM DISEASE:
Deep Cleaning (Root Planing and Scaling)
Through a detailed examination of your gums we have found that the normal attachment of gums to your teeth is in a slowly deteriorating state. This is creating pockets of infection that will continue to deepen if left untreated. A normal healthy pocket depth is a scant 1 or 2 millimeters. Teeth have to be extracted if we find a pocket of 12 millimeters or more. Remember: if we have found a pocket of 6 millimeters in your mouth, then you are half way there.
If you are looking at this page, it may be that we have recommended a deep cleaning (Root Planing and Scaling) with anesthesia because we have found more than one pocket depth of 5 millimeters or greater around your teeth. Even the best tooth brusher and flosser can not reach deep below the gums to clear this problem. Root planing and Scaling is the only way to halt the process of active gum disease.
In our practice, we refer patients to a gum specialist if we find pocket depths greater than 7 millimeters because, pockets of this severity require gum surgery to correct. Naturally, one of our goals is to attempt to stop the disease process with much less invasive treatment. If left completely untreated, you are assured the loss of most or all of your teeth over the coming years. Once the pocket depths progress to 9-12 millimeters the teeth often become loose and susceptible to frequent infections with great pain and swelling.
The process of gum disease usually begins with the build up of hard, calcified substances called tatar, 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 only way to arrest this cycle of build up and furthur deterioration is to thoroughly clean the root surfaces of every tooth and to polish each tooth to reduce the likelihood of continued build up.
Typical therapy for 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 and thoroughly polish the surfaces of each tooth. This visit is without discomfort and does not require anesthesia. This visit takes 1 hour.
Appointment 4 - Three months after the third appointment, we will have you return for a regular cleaning through which you should be completely 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 cleanings that would best keep gum disease from becoming active again in your mouth. For some people it is important to perform a conventional cleaning every three months. For others, four or six months may be fine between visits.
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 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.
Gum 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. (See our page labeled “Medical/Dental issues” and click on “Heart Disease”.Even if you are not experiencing pain, you may still have periodontal disease. In fact, 70% of all adults over 40 have some measure of gum disease. Most 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.