What is gum disease? Why do I need a deep cleaning?


What is the definition of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body's natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria.

 How many people are affected by periodontal disease?

A study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010:  estimates that 47.2%, or 64.7 million American adults have early,, moderate, or advanced periodontitis, the more severe  form of periodontal disease. In adults aged 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1%.

How do we treat periodontal disease?

Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. Scaling and root planing is sometimes followed by adjunctive therapy such as local delivery antimicrobials, systemic antibiotics, and host modulation, as needed on a case-by-case basis. Most periodontists would agree that after scaling and root planing, many patients do not require any further active treatment. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health

What is  periodontal maintenance therapy?

After the disease process is under control, a regular hygiene recare appointment is no longer appropriate. Instead, you will require special ongoing gum and bone care procedures, known as Periodontal Maintenance Therapy, to keep the disease under control and keep your mouth healthy.

What to expect after Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment of periodontal disease. The purpose of the treatment is to remove bacterial plaque and tartar from around teeth and under the gum line, which is causing bone loss. The goal is to produce clean, healthy teeth and roots, which will promote healing of the inflammation and infection that causes gum disease.

You may take an over-the-counter pain reliever for any tenderness or discomfort. Take ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) unless you have medical conditions or allergies. After scaling and root planing, avoid eating anything on the area being treated for two hours or until the anesthetic has worn off completely. It is easy to bite or burn your cheek, tongue or lip while numb. Avoid any hard foods such as tortilla chips, potato chips, popcorn, or seeds for the next several days.

To help soothe the area, rinse your mouth 2-3 times a day with warm salt water rinses. If you are prescribed Peridex/Chlorhexidine, use as directed. Resume your home care regimen of brushing twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and daily flossing immediately, but be gentle with the area recently treated. Your gum health must be maintained with proper home care, as instructed, and regular dental visits. You may use a WaterPik if recommended.

It is not unusual for the teeth to be more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, and/or sweets. This is normal. This occurs as the gum tissue heals and shrinks in size and should gradually resolve in a few weeks with proper home care. Consistently brushing two to three times daily with sensitivity toothpaste or using fluoride rinses may alleviate this over time. Avoid toothpastes with “whitening” or baking soda, as this will contribute to the problem. If sensitivity continues or is severe, professional application of a desensitizing agent may be required.

Refrain from smoking for 24 to 48 hours after scaling and root planing as tobacco will delay healing of the tissues. Smoking cessation is highly recommended.

You can expect to notice less redness, less bleeding, and less swelling of your gum tissues. Your teeth may feel smoother and your mouth will taste and feel better. We will look forward to seeing you for your regular periodontal maintenance to keep up with what we just accomplished together.

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