Periodontal (gum) disease is a common infection of the soft tissues and supporting bone structure. It is caused when bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up around the teeth. The immune system launches an inflammatory reaction. The gums become red, swollen and bleed easily. This infection of the gums in the early stage is called gingivitis. Daily brushing and flossing as well as routine cleanings by a hygienist can often help reverse gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis may progress over time into more advanced stages of periodontitis. When this happens, the supporting bone becomes involved. The bone will recede causing deeper pockets around the teeth. Less bone support around the teeth can result in the teeth becoming mobile. Untreated periodontitis will eventually lead to tooth loss. Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (periodontal disease), than from cavities. Scientific research has discovered linkage between gum disease and other health conditions like strokes, heart disease, diabetes - even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and of treatment not working.
How is Periodontal Disease Diagnosed?
Your hygienist or dentist will conduct a perio assessment. They will assess the health of your gum tissues by taking measurements around your teeth to check pocket depths and look for bleeding. Readings of 2-3mm with no bleeding is healthy. Pockets that measure 4mm with some mild bleeding is likely for gums with gingivitis. Multiple measurements of 5+mm paired with bleeding is a sign of active periodontitis. This assessment will help them determine which cleaning treatment is right for you.
What is Scaling Root Planing?
Scaling and root planing is a deeper cleaning treatment done to try to stop periodontal disease from progressing. This treatment is done on teeth that have pocket readings of 5+ mm. A local anesthetic may be used for your comfort to minimize sensitivity during the cleaning. Your hygienist will use hand scalers and/or an ultrasonic scaler to clean away the plaque and tartar on your teeth and roots. This treatment usually takes 1-2 appointments depending on how many teeth need treatment. After scaling and root planing is completed, you will return in 6 weeks for a re-evaluation of the tissues. Based on our findings we will put you on the appropriate recall schedule. Our goal with scaling root planing treatment is to stop the disease and prevent it from getting worse. If your periodontal disease is too severe for us to manage or requires a tissue graft, we may refer you to a periodontist (specialist in gum tissue and supporting tooth structures).