Your periodontal (gum) tissues are equally as important to your oral health and smile as your teeth. That is why we here at McDonald Dental specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is not only one of the most common oral health problems, but it is also the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
Periodontal, or gum disease, is an infection that occurs due to your body’s immune response to the harmful bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria is usually found in plaque, the sticky biofilm that constantly forms on and around your teeth.
When plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) are allowed to build up, your immune system produces toxins designed to kill off the bacteria. Unfortunately, these toxins affect your healthy tissues as well, ultimately causing the infection we refer to as “periodontal disease.” As periodontal disease progresses, the infection will spread from your gums to the connective ligaments and underlying bone that support your teeth.
Luckily, preventing periodontal disease is as easy as implementing a strong oral hygiene routine and scheduling regular appointments. Most professionals agree that you should brush your teeth twice a day, especially after meals and before bed. Flossing once a day will also keep the areas between your teeth free from plaque, tartar, and bacteria.
Scaling and Root Planing
Periodontal disease usually occurs in two stages, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis can be treated and reversed with improvements to your oral hygiene and more frequent professional cleanings. It is also the first and most common form of the disease.
Periodontitis, the second stage, is much more serious and usually requires a special procedure known as scaling and root planing. Also referred to as a “deep cleaning,” this treatment involves the extensive use of an ultrasonic scaler.
During your scaling and root planing, the tip of the ultrasonic scaler uses high-frequency vibrations and a cleansing solution to produce microscopic bubbles. These bubbles then implode the surface of your teeth, breaking up plaque and tartar deposits while bursting the cell walls of bacteria. If your buildup is severe, the procedure may need to be spread out over several appointments.
A scaling and root planing allow us to eliminate all or most of the plaque, tartar, and bacteria, causing your periodontal disease. If your treatment is successful, your periodontal pockets should return to a normal depth, and your gums should return to a pink, healthy state.
If your infection persists, even after scaling and root planing, Dr. Louis McDonald may suggest additional treatments. Advanced periodontitis sometimes requires surgical intervention, including soft-tissue grafts, bone grafts, flap surgery, or guided tissue regeneration. If your periodontitis is severe, and a tooth is beyond saving, we may also recommend an extraction to stop the spread of infection.
After we alleviate your symptoms and improve your oral health, periodontal maintenance is paramount. People that have had periodontal disease are far more likely to develop complications with their gums in the future. Routine checkups and cleanings are usually the best course of action if you want to prevent a reoccurrence.
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