Periodontal disease (often called gum disease) is a bacterial infection of the gums, teeth and bone. The disease strikes areas below the gum line not visible. Not every person will develop periodontal disease, and it is not a result of aging. Diabetics are at greater risk for gum disease, and often have more severe gum disease.
In certain patients, without special cleanings and maintenance visits, bacterial plaque builds up under the gums. Eventually, this buildup, called calculus or tartar, will cause the gums AND BONE to dissolve away from the teeth, forming pockets around the teeth. These pockets fill with even more bacteria and continue to damage the bone. This destruction of bone is permanent, and can eventually lead to loose teeth, abscesses and teeth that need to be removed or fall out on their own. Patients with untreated gum disease will usually have foul-smelling breath and a bad taste in their mouth. Often, people with untreated gum disease are completely unaware of their foul breath odor.
Both general dentists and periodontists diagnose and treat gum disease. Dentists will send patients to a periodontist for the treatment of advanced gum disease, or for complications of gum disease, such as lost bone and gum tissue. Periodontists also place dental implants. Periodontists require an extra two to three years of specialization after dental school.
In advanced stages of gum disease, the periodontist can perform a surgical procedure to clear infection out of the pockets, reduce how deep they are, and contour the gums and bone into a shape that the patient can maintain at home with their toothbrush and floss. People with periodontal disease also have to use special brushes to clean the areas in their mouth that have been damaged by gum disease.
Periodontal disease is not cured, but maintained over a patient’s lifetime. Patients with a history of gum disease must see the dentist (and/or periodontist) every 3 or 4 months to keep the disease under control.
We provide the following services to assist our patients with this:
During a maintenance cleaning, we remove any tartar and plaque buildup above and below your gums. This includes your gum pockets and underneath your gum line. We also remove bacteria. In bad cases of periodontal disease, we may medicate your teeth (and gum pockets) with an antibiotic or antimicrobial gel. We also use this time to take radiographs and get a clear view of your teeth and gums.
Advanced Gum treatment
The first step in getting rid of gum disease is a regular dental cleaning. After that, we will perform scaling and root planing. This is a special cleaning that removes plaque and tartar from under the gumline and smoothes the root surfaces to promote healing. In most cases, if you receive scaling and root planing and resume regular oral care, your gum disease will resolve.
Scaling & Root Planing
Periodontal scaling and root planing cleans off tartar and other buildup on your teeth. We also clean between your gums and your teeth. We can use a standard scraping tool, but we also have an ultrasonic tool if needed. There are times when an antibiotic needs to be placed between your teeth and gums to help with the infection.
Arestin Antibiotic treatment
Arestin is minocycline hydrochloride and is an antibiotic. It can kill the bacteria that are causing this infection. Our dentist is proud to be able to administer this antibiotic to help his patients’ oral health. We are able to treat you right here in our office.