Education Is The First Step Of Good Dental Health
During your oral exam, we will fully assess your dental health. Oral exams give us the opportunity to evaluate your current methods of dental care and provide suggestions for future care to protect you from complications such as cavities and gum disease. X-rays or periodontal charting will be alternatingly taken every six months to help diagnose for decay or gum disease. We will also do an oral cancer screen every time you come in to check for any abnormalities.
PROPHYLAXIS (Teeth Cleaning)
A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning treatment performed to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for stopping the progression of gingivitis and periodontal disease. Prophylaxis is an effective procedure in keeping the oral cavity in proper health and halting the progression of gum disease.
The benefits include:
- Plaque removal. Tarter (also referred to as calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can result in serious periodontal problems. Unfortunately, even with a proper home-brushing and flossing routine, it can be impossible to remove all debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets. The experienced eye of a dentist or hygienist using specialized dental equipment is necessary to catch potentially damaging buildup.
- A healthier looking smile. Stained and yellowed teeth can dramatically decrease the esthetics of a smile. Prophylaxis is an effective treatment in ridding the teeth of these unsightly stains.
- Fresher breath. Bad breath (or halitosis) is generally indicative of advancing periodontal disease. A combination of rotting food particles (possibly below the gum line) and potential gangrene stemming from gum infection, results in bad breath. The routine removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria at our facility can noticeably improve halitosis and reduce infection.
Prophylaxis can be performed at our office. We recommend that prophylaxis be performed twice annually as a preventative measure, but should be completed every 3-4 months for periodontitis sufferers. It should be noted that gum disease cannot be completely reversed, but periodontal maintenance is one of the tools that we use to effectively halt its progression.
Why is oral hygiene so important? Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease, (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. Good oral hygiene at home is very important to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or from coming back. Daily home cleaning helps keep plaque under control and reduces tarter buildup. Brush twice a day and floss everyday!
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Plaque is colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this 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. If left untreated, it leads to tooth loss.
Over time, if teeth are not cleaned well, plaque bacteria can cause your gums to become inflamed. Inflamed gums can pull away from the teeth, forming spaces called "pockets". These pockets trap more plaque that cannot be removed with toothbrushing. If the pockets are not treated, the periodontal disease can get worse. Diseases such as diabetes and AIDS can place a person at higher risk for periodontal disease. Tobacco use also increases your risk of developing periodontal disease, and treatment may be less successful if your continue to smoke or chew.
If you schedule regular dental exams, our team can catch periodontal disease before the gums and the bone supporting your teeth are severely damaged. During periodontal evaluation, we use a periodontal probe to gently measure the spaces between the teeth and gums. In a healthy mouth, this space (pocket) is usually less than three millimeters deep. Very deep pockets are a sign of advanced periodontal disease. Dental x-rays usually are taken to check the bone supporting the teeth. Low bone levels can be a sign of damage from periodontal disease. If periodontal disease is diagnosed, we may provide treatment or may refer your to a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease).
SCALING AND ROOT PLANING
Periodontal treatments depend on the type of the disease and how severe it is. If the disease is caught early (when it is gingivitis), and no damage has been done to the supporting structures under the teeth, you may simply need a professional cleaning. Our dental team can give you tips for improving your daily oral hygiene.
Even with these measures, some patients develop more severe periodontal disease. The first step in treating the disease usually involves a special deep cleaning called "scaling and root planing." In this treatment, your hygienist removes plaque and tarter down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. This treatment may be done over several visits, depending on your needs. The root surfaces of the teeth are then smoothed (or "planed") to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth. This treatment also may take more than one visit. We may recommend medications to help control infection and pain or to aid healing. These can include a pill, a mouth rinse or a medication that the dentist places directly into the periodontal pocket after scaling and root planing. Another dental visit will be scheduled within a few weeks or months after your last scaling and root planing treatment. At this visit, we will look at your gums to see how they have healed. We will measure the periodontal pockets again. If the pockets have gotten deeper and the supporting bone is lost, more treatment may be needed.
Once your periodontal treatment is completed, we may recommend more frequent checkups and cleanings. Regular dental visits and deep cleanings are important to keep periodontal disease under control. In some cases, your appointments may alternate between us and a periodontist.