How much attention do you pay to your gums? It’s common to focus on your teeth over the rest of your mouth, as they are the only portions you show off to the world. But your gum health is critical – infected gums will affect oral health and systemic health.
Periodontal therapy aims to minimize periodontal infection and return the tissues to good health. This could involve topical treatments/antibiotics, a more conservative treatment like deep cleaning, or periodontal surgery for advanced periodontitis.
Periodontal Disease: What to Watch For
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. While a gum infection may sound minor, periodontitis can lead to gum tissue loss, tooth loss, and bone loss. Nearly half of all Americans age 30 or older experience periodontal disease. While periodontal disease is avoidable, some patients are more prone to infection than others, primarily smokers and patients on certain dry-mouth inducing medications.
When harmful bacteria accumulates in our mouths, it forms a sticky film called plaque. If this plaque is left alone, it hardens into tartar or calculus, difficult-to-brush-away layers. The bacteria present continually aggravates the gums and leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation), which may progress to periodontal disease. If you’ve been experiencing:
- Swollen or reddened gums
- Gums prone to bleeding
- Persistent bad breath
- A strange taste in your mouth
- Sore teeth and gums
…you may be in the first stages of periodontal disease, and should contact your dentist immediately. Periodontal disease will form bacteria pockets between teeth and gums, separating them from their stable bone structure. This is how periodontitis leads to tooth loss.
If it’s been some time since you visited the dentist and you’ve fallen behind on your oral hygiene, Dr. de Jongh may need to take more involved steps than a standard cleaning. Think of plaque and calculus removal as a “deep cleaning.” This will help treat gum disease and soothe your gums.
The most common procedures for removing plaque are as follows:
- Full mouth debridement – If a patient has a large amount of calculus built up over their teeth and gums, Dr. de Jongh will remove these materials with hand tools. Removing these obtrusive materials will help heal the gums and prevent future irritation.
- Periodontal scaling – Scaling is the removal of plaque from the tooth and root surfaces above the gum line.
- Root planing – Dr. de Jongh may also need to remove plaque from the root of the tooth, especially if there are pockets forming between your tooth and surrounding gums.
Dr. de Jongh will do everything possible to treat gum disease using conservative measures. If you have advanced periodontitis, surgery may be necessary. We will work with you throughout the surgical process to ensure that you understand your treatment plan and how to follow up with your home care. Your gum surgery may involve regenerative procedures to restore the gum line, reattach tissues and regenerate bone, a gum graft to curb gingival recession, or pocket reduction procedures.
With effective periodontal treatment combined with effective oral hygiene, you’ll be able to leave periodontal disease in your past. Schedule a consultation today to take the first step.