Periodontics (Gum Disease)
Preventive Periodontics or Periodontal Treatment
Periodontal Disease, or gum disease, is a serious infection in your gums that is mainly caused by bacterial plaque that is constantly forming on your teeth. When plaque isn’t removed by brushing, flossing and regular dental cleanings, it can turn to tartar—a hard substance that can only be removed by a dental office. When left in your mouth, plaque and tartar can cause inflammation of your gums, which can develop into infections below the gum line causing the gum to separate from your teeth creating pockets that become infected and can even fill with pus.
As the pockets deepen and the disease becomes more pronounced, bone and gum tissue are destroyed which can ultimately result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is stealthy, usually giving no or very few signs of its existence. Regular dental checkups can detect periodontal disease at even its earliest stages. Since periodontal disease is created by plaque and tartar buildup on your gums, good dental hygiene is a must in preventing gum disease.
Along with good daily oral hygiene habits, regular visits to your dentist for checkups and professional cleanings involving scaling and root planing that will remove plaque or tartar buildup, will help keep your gums healthy and free of periodontal disease and infections.
Scaling and Root Planing
The key to oral health is regular cleaning and removal of plaque and tartar build up. This starts with daily oral hygiene routines, which includes brushing and flossing.
However, even with good daily oral hygiene, some plaque still remains in your mouth and over time it can harden and becomes tartar (also known as calculus). If tartar is left in your mouth, it will cause periodontal disease or gum disease. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist with a process called ‘scaling’ where either ultrasound vibrations or a manual tool called a scaler are used to remove tartar from the portion of your tooth that is below the gum line. When you go in for regular cleanings, usually twice per year, your dentist will scale each tooth on all sides, and between the teeth, to remove tartar build up, especially in the most difficult places to reach. If you are particularly sensitive, your dentist may temporarily numb your teeth and gums so the cleaning process isn’t uncomfortably painful.
Since plaque and calculus love to grab onto rough surfaces of the tooth, once the built-up tartar has been removed from your tooth, the rough or irregular surfaces are smoothed away with a process called ‘root planing.’ This process is used to prevent periodontal disease, reverse any early signs of gum disease and to prevent any existing periodontal disease from spreading.
These common techniques are the first, most basic step in preventing periodontal disease. If you regularly keep your dental check up appointments, where the dentist uses scaling and root planning, you are likely not to need further, more invasive treatments.