Periodontal (perry-o-don-tal)Disease is an infection and inflammation that affects the tissues and bone that support your teeth. It’s also called gum disease.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease
- gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- gums that are red, swollen, puffy or tender
- gums that no longer tightly hug your teeth
- bad breath that doesn’t go away
- pus between your teeth and gums
- feeling that your teeth are loose
Plaque is a sticky film that is always on your teeth. Plaque that is not removed between the teeth and on the gum line can cause the gums to become red, puffy and swollen, which causes them to pull away from your teeth. Spaces called pockets start to form between your gums and teeth. These pockets give bacteria a place to collect and grow. As the bacteria stays in the pockets, your gum disease will get worse, eventually causing the gum tissues and bone around your teeth to break down. A professional cleaning will not be enough if your gum disease is severe. Usually a deep cleaning called scaling (skay-ling) and root planning (play-ning) is needed.
Scaling: Your hygienist removes plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket.
Root Planing: Then, the root surfaces of your teeth are smoothed, or “planed”, to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth.
Dr. Patel or your hygienist may recommend certain medicines to help control infection and discomfort or to aid healing. You may be given a mouth rise or they may place medication directly into the pockets after the treatment.
Once your treatment is completed, you will need more frequent dental visits than people without gum disease. The periodic cleanings are called Periodontal Maintenance Care. The purpose of these cleanings is to help you keep your gums healthy and make sure that gum disease does not get worse. With periodic maintenance, the amount of plaque bacteria is lowered. Then, the inflammation can get better, pockets can shrink and your gums can become healthier.
With the help of your dental team, you don’t have to lose your teeth to gum disease! Periodontal maintenance is most effective if you and your dental team work together. Remember, you must do your part and take good care of your teeth and gums at home every day.