You do not have to brush and floss all your teeth … just the ones you want to keep.
The best investment you can make for your teeth and gum health is to get a checkup and a cleaning every six months with your dentist. Your gum tissue and bone surround your teeth and are the foundation of your teeth. Dental plaque and build-up cause inflammation of the gums and destruction of the bone surrounding your teeth. Brushing your teeth alone does not remove plaque and build-up underneath the gums. It is very important to schedule a cleaning with the dentist to remove dental plaque and build-up regularly to prevent and fight gum disease and to build a healthy foundation.
Depending on how much plaque and tartar you have, what state your gum health is in and whether or not you have any periodontal disease (bone loss and bone disease), There are several different types of “cleanings” that will be recommended to you.
If you have a relatively healthy mouth condition, You will get a regular cleaning or a “prophy.” A prophy cleans plaque on the teeth and at the gum line.
Deep Cleaning or Gum Treatment
If you are diagnosed with having periodontal disease (bone loss), below the gum tartar deposits, or severe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), then you will need to get a deep cleaning to put you back in a healthy oral state. This procedure is pain-free since you will be completely numb. All surfaces of the teeth and the roots will be cleaned from all the germs and deposits. If needed, the application of localized antibiotics and irrigation with specialized medicines will also be recommended. These treatments usually can be completed in two visits. After your teeth and gums are cleaned back to a healthy state, you will be placed on a regular checkup and regular cleaning schedule.
Many patients have asked, “Why do I need to receive treatment if my teeth don’t hurt?” Periodontitis involves very gradual destruction of the bone around the teeth, so most of the time it doesn’t cause pain. In fact, the gums may appear completely normal, pink and healthy, even though bone loss has occurred.
This explains why the dentist or periodontist observes a “deep gum pocket”. When a measuring device, called a probe, is inserted into the gum pocket, it essentially measures the distance from the gum tissue to the bone. If the gums appear normal but there is bone loss, then the probe will measure deeper than gum pockets with healthy bone levels.
Other patients have asked, “Why do I need to have this loose tooth extracted if it isn’t painful? Can’t I just leave it in until it falls out on its own?” The problem with leaving a loose tooth with extreme bone loss is that the infection that caused that tooth’s bone loss could lead to infection and bone loss of the adjacent teeth.
The key to avoiding having the teeth removed is to receive treatment as soon as periodontal disease is recognized. When caught in the early stages, periodontitis can be managed by a “deep cleaning”, also known as a “scaling and root planing” of the teeth roots.
Scaling and root planning is the most common and conservative form of treatment for periodontitis (gum and bone disease). It may eliminate the need for gum surgery.
Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and biofilm (commonly called plaque) that attach to the tooth surfaces. The process especially targets the area below the gum line along the root.
Plaque is a very sticky substance full of bacteria that forms on teeth. When plaque hardens over time, it is called calculus. Plaque is more likely to stick to rough surfaces. For this reason, the root surface is made smooth in a process called root planning. Root planning removes any remaining calculus and smoothed irregular areas of the root surface.
Bacteria causes periodontal disease and the formation of toxins on the root surface called endotoxins. Scaling and root planning are done to remove the plaque and calculus. For early stages of the disease, this treatment may be all that is needed to get the condition under control. With more advanced periodontal disease, scaling and root planning may be the first step before surgery. Having professional treatment completed as soon as you become aware of periodontal disease is very important to reduce the risk of losing your teeth. Treatment, along with improved home care, increases the status of your oral and overall health.
For some patients, scaling and root planning can cause discomfort. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the portion of your mouth that is being treated.
You may be asked to use a professionally formulated or an antiseptic mouth rinse after scaling and root planning. However, you should continue brushing and flossing as usual. Your commitment and technique with home care, along with keeping your periodontal maintenance (follow up appointments and cleanings) appointments, are very important in obtaining and maintaining a healthy periodontal status.
Our team will educate you on your periodontal status and will answer any questions you may have. Together, we can help you achieve that healthy smile you deserve to have.