Did you know periodontal (gum) disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults and 3 out of 4 patients will be affected by periodontal disease at some time in their life? Risks factors for periodontal disease include: smoking, diabetes, poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, grinding teeth, and dry mouth (sometimes caused by medications). The type of cleaning you need will depend on your periodontal assessment and your radiographs.
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums which may cause them to turn red, swell, and bleed easily (especially after flossing). If you are experiencing these symptoms, this may be gingivitis which is a reversible periodontal disease.
If the irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. This is called periodontitis, and if left untreated, this can lead to tooth loss. Other signs and symptoms of periodontitis included bad breath, heavy tartar/calculus buildup, and unhealthy pocket depths of 4mm or more. For early stages of periodontitis, a deep cleaning (sometimes called scaling and root planing or non-surgical periodontal therapy) is often the first line of defense against further disease progression.
A deep cleaning involves our dentist using an ultrasonic scaler to thoroughly remove all plaque, bacterial toxins, and tartar deposits from your teeth and root surfaces. At your next visit, our dentist will check on the healing of your gums and the status of your pockets. In most cases, red or swollen gum tissue becomes firm and pink again, bleeding is reduced or eliminated, and pockets get smaller. If your gum tissue has responded well and remains stable, you may not need any further treatment. More advanced periodontal conditions, on the other hand, may require surgical interventions by a specialist (periodontist) to stop the progression of bone loss.
If you have had a deep cleaning in the past, your next cleaning is called a periodontal maintenance. Having these cleaning twice per year may not be sufficient enough to keep bacteria at bay so the dentist will suggest which re-care interval is best for you: 3 months, 4 months, or 6 months.