The Treatment of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the early stages of periodontal disease, when only the soft tissues of the mouth are affected. Plaque buildup leads to tartar and bacteria below the gum line, which cause the gums to become inflamed, irritated, and bleed. A few of the common contributing factors include dry mouth due to medications or medical conditions, orthodontic braces, and mouth breathing. Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible! With good professional care, like the care you get here from the team at James O’Connell, DDS, followed by a good home care routine of regular brushing and flossing your gums can become healthy again.
Periodontitis is a progressed stage of gum disease and is marked by the breakdown of the bone and gums that secure and support the teeth. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Though the main cause of gum disease is lack of oral hygiene, contributing factors include heavy smoking and diabetes. Unfortunately, bone that has been resorbed due to periodontal disease will not grow back, but aggressive professional treatment and thorough home care can prevent the situation from getting worse.
Diagnosis of Gum Disease
The early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, or inflammation around the gum line. If these systems appear, your dentist will check for the build up of calculus (tartar) below your gum line. Your dentist or hygienist may use a tool called a probe to test your gums for bleeding and measure periodontal pockets. X-rays are also helpful in evaluating the bone level around your teeth.
Treatment of Gum Disease
Gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, is easily treated with professional cleanings with a dental hygienist and proper home care to remove the plaque before it becomes calculus. Periodontitis, however, will require more aggressive treatment. Your dentist may recommend that you have a deep cleaning (called scaling and root planing) to remove the plaque and calculus below your gums. For your comfort, anesthesia is used and the procedure is broken up into two or more visits followed by a final polish visit where we remove any residual stain and check for persistent areas of inflammation. A slow-released antibiotic is often placed into deep pockets. You may also be prescribed mouth rinses. Patients in periodontal treatment frequently require cleanings and check-ups every three to four months to maintain their periodontal health.
Scaling & Root Planing
Patients with gum and periodontal disease require help in cleaning the deeper pockets found in the mouth. This deep tissue removal of calculus restores your mouth to health below the gums. If left untreated, calculus build up propagates periodontal disease and irreversible bone loss. Not only will your bone begin to recede leaving your teeth more fragile and prone to loosening, it is linked to a number of other diseases.
Your hygienist will spend a significant amount of time on each tooth that requires this deep cleaning. Usually, only one fourth of your mouth will be completed per appointment. You should expect to receive anesthetic during this procedure since a cleaning of this depth is often uncomfortable. There are three levels of pain management available during this procedure, from topical gel, to a gel that is placed in each sulcus (gums around each tooth), to local anesthetic injection. Your hygienist will help you to choose which form of anesthetic is most appropriate for your procedure.
After successful scaling and root planing, your hygienist will recommend that your mouth require a little extra attention above and beyond what is provided at a regular cleaning appointment. By coming in for periodontal maintenance, your hygienist can keep the bacteria growing in your mouth under control and help you to avoid further periodontal disease and bone loss. Generally, periodontal maintenance patients are recommended appointments at intervals of every 3-4 months.
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