Periodontal therapy treats periodontal disease (gum disease), which can be devastating and result in the loss of your teeth. Generations ago losing all of your teeth and wearing dentures was expected. Today there is no reason why anyone should have to suffer this fate. Periodontal disease is caused when the bacteria that naturally occur in our mouth cause an infection deeper in the gums and bone and the bone dissolves. Ultimately the teeth are lost either due to the infection or because they become loose. Today periodontal disease can be managed with periodontal therapy to help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful for a lifetime. There are different types of treatment and ongoing management for periodontal disease depending on the severity and your individual risk factors.
Do I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can affect some or all of the teeth and range from mild to severe. There are signs and symptoms of gum disease that you may be able to see at home, but many of the warning signs can only be found during a professional dental appointment. At home you may notice red, puffy and bleeding gums when you brush and floss. You may also notice bad breath that does not go away with brushing or even rinsing with mouthwash. During your professional cleaning appointment we will complete a periodontal exam and may take x-rays to identify swelling and inflammation of the gums and loss of the bone supporting the teeth.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis occurs when the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth cause an infection in the gums. The gum tissue will become red, puffy, sore and bleed easily to the touch during brushing or flossing. Periodontal therapy treats gingivitis and helps prevent the development of periodontitis.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is caused by the same bacteria as gingivitis but the effects of the bacteria have spread, causing damage to the bone surrounding the teeth. This bone holds the teeth tightly in the jaw and when it dissolves away the teeth can become infected and ultimately lost. Periodontal therapy is critical in treating this more advanced form of gum disease and preventing further bone loss.
What Are the Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease?
The accumulation of food, plaque and tarter (calculus) on the teeth is a risk factor for developing both gingivitis and periodontitis. We also know that there are genetic risk factors. Some patients respond negatively to the bacteria at very low levels, while other patients will stay healthy even in the presence of large amounts of plaque and bacteria. The treatment and management of periodontal disease is dependent on what is required to remove the plaque, tarter and bacteria from your mouth and then to maintain it at a low enough level that your body can manage it.
What is Scaling & Root Planing?
Scaling and root planning is the mechanical removal of bacteria, plaque, and tarter from the teeth and roots above and below the gum level. This is done in a limited way during any hygiene visit, however to treat more advanced gum disease more thorough cleaning is required. The more bone you lose, the easier it is for bacteria, plaque and tarter to build up. This makes removal take longer and require more effort, but is necessary to allow healing to occur. Both ultrasonic and hand instruments will be used. Periodontal therapy may take between one and four appointments based on your individual needs. For your comfort, the hygienist will often recommend numbing the area being cleaned.