Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular checkup, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between your teeth and gums.
If you do have periodontal or gum disease, treatment for that includes deep cleanings also called scaling and root planing (SRP). The objective of scaling and root planing is to remove etiologic agents which cause inflammation to the gingival (gum) tissue and surrounding bone. Common etiologic agents removed by this conventional periodontal therapy include dental plaque and tartar (calculus). These non-surgical procedures which completely cleanse the periodontium, work very effectively for individuals suffering from gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) and moderate/severe periodontal disease.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis -- This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis -- If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, and the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Gums infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or be removed by a dentist.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease:
Gums that bleed easily
Red, swollen, tender gums
Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
Persistent bad breath or bad taste
Pus between your teeth and gums
Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Any change in the fit of partial dentures
If you feel like you have any of these symptoms or conditions call us today for a periodontal screening to catch this disease as early as possible.
Scaling and root planing treatments are only performed after a thorough examination of the mouth. The dentist will take X-rays, conduct visual examinations and make a diagnosis before recommending or beginning these procedures. Depending on the current condition of the gums, the amount of calculus (tartar) present, the depth of the pockets and the progression of the periodontitis, local anesthetic may be used.
Following these deep cleaning procedures, the gum pockets may be treated with antibiotics. This will soothe irritation and help the gum tissues to heal quickly.
During the next appointment, the dentist or hygienist will thoroughly examine the gums again to see how well the pockets have healed. If the gum pockets still measure more than 3mm in depth, additional and more intensive treatments may be recommended.