If you notice any of these signs, you may have periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums during brushing and flossing
- Red, swollen and tender gum tissue
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Loose or separating teeth
Periodontal disease ("gum" disease) is an infection and inflammation of the tissues and bone that hold teeth in place. If left untreated, periodontal disease can quickly progress and possibly lead to permanent damage and tooth loss. Treating gum disease in the early stages can help prevent tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is caused by the irritation from bacteria in plaque when it’s not properly removed over a period of time. This leads to chronic inflammation that can result in infection and destroy your bone and gum tissues. Inflamed gums can also pull away from the teeth to form spaces called "pockets". These pockets provide a space for more bacteria. If the pockets are not treated, the disease can progress.
Several studies suggest there is a link between chronic inflammation from periodontal (gum) disease with the development of heart disease, artery blockage and stroke. Although more research is needed, the connection between a healthy mouth and healthy body is becoming more evident.
Plaque that is not completely removed may also harden into a deposit on your teeth and gums called calculus or "tartar". Tartar buildup makes it more difficult to properly brush and floss your teeth and so it becomes a breeding ground for more plaque and bacteria. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth professionally cleaned at a dental office.
Depending on the severity of the disease, Dr. Stephenson may recommend that one or more sections (quadrants) of the mouth be treated with scaling and root planing. This is a non-surgical treatment and may require more than one visit. Periodontal Scaling is used to remove plaque and tartar beneath the gum tissue and down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The root surface of the tooth is then smoothed or planed. This procedure helps the gum tissue to heal and the pocket to shrink.
After treatment, it is very important to come back in for the recommended Periodontal Maintenance cleanings to keep your gum tissue in healthy condition and avoid further progression of disease.
Tips for Maintaining Your Health After Periodontal Treatment
- Brush and Floss thoroughly every day
- Schedule Periodontal Maintenance appointments as recommended
- Stay healthy with a balanced diet
- Avoid smoking or any tobacco use
After periodontal treatment, there are several steps you can take to control progression of your disease and help you keep your teeth and gums healthy. It’s now more important than ever to practice good oral hygiene at home by thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Cleaning between the teeth with floss is especially important for patients who have had periodontal treatment; this will help to keep the pocket areas as clean as possible. Dr. Stephenson may recommend using other interdental cleaners besides floss such as toothpicks, periodontal aids, or even a sonic toothbrush.
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene, Periodontal Maintenance therapy is recommended every few months to clean your teeth and maintain the health of your pockets. These appointments will focus on preventing further progression of periodontal disease. Periodontal Maintenance is more extensive than a “regular cleaning”, and sometimes referred to as a “deep cleaning”. It’s typically done on patients who need areas below the gum surface thoroughly cleaned and scaled because of pockets that are deeper than those found in patients without gum disease.
Studies show that when patients follow through with recommended Periodontal Maintenance visits and good oral hygiene, they have less progression of gum disease or potentially losing teeth. If you have questions regarding your insurance and Periodontal Maintenance, please let us know. Because this therapy is a different service than a “regular cleaning”, it is coded for insurance accordingly. Some insurance plans will consider this therapy as “preventive care” and other plans consider it under “basic” services. We are always happy to check your insurance benefits for any procedure so you can have an accurate estimate of what to expect.