Plaque and calculus (tartar) that sits on the teeth provides an environment that allows bacteria to thrive and multiply, leading to gingivitis, a condition that causes the gums to bleed and become red and inflamed. Gingivitis is easily treated by having the hygienist scale and polish the teeth. If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque on the teeth hardens into tartar and progreses down the roots of the teeth. When this occurs, the bone, which is the support for the teeth, starts to deteriorate. Left untreated, periodontal disease can result in loss of teeth. It is a common, and sometimes silent condition in many adults. Diagnosis of gingivitis and periodontitis is done using a periodontal probe, which measures the attachemnt level of the gums to the tooth, which we call the "pocket depth". A healthy pocket depth is betwen 1-3 mm. When the pocket depth exceeds 3 mm on the probe, futher periodontal treatment may be indicated for that area. X-rays can also be consulted to assess any bone loss due to perioontal disease.
Treatment for periodontal disease involves scaling and root planing, which is a therapeutic, meticulous, and time-consuming procedure designed to remove the toxins and bacteria from the root surfaces of the teeth, thereby allowing the body's immune system to begin the healing process. Calculus and diseased cementum will be removed from the root surface which is then planed smooth so that the gum tissue can heal and reattach to the root surface.
For your comfort during this procedure, either a local anesthetic injection or Oraqix (a numbing gel inserted in the space between the gum and the tooth) is used. Scaling and root planing is usually broken down into one section of the mouth per appointment. This allows for adequate healing time, and reduces the time for each appointment.
The procedure can be followed up with the placement of Arestin, an antibiotic powder inserted in the pocket to promote healing by the elimination of bacteria in the pocket.
After being treated for periodontal disease, a standard cleaning and check up recall is no longer appropriate. While a standard cleaning addresses scaling and polishing above the gum line, a person who has experienced periodontal disease requires meticulous below the gum line maintenance at more frequent intervals.
Periodontal disease has a significant impact on the overall health of the body, especially in people whose health is compromised by heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and osteoporosis. Increased risk of stroke and pre-term birth weight babies is also attributed to periodontal disease.