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Periodontics & Cleaning


What is periodontal disease?

According to the ADA, 47% of the U.S. population over age 30 suffers from periodontal disease which is a very conservative estimate. Other sources claim as much as 80% of Americans have some level of periodontal disease. This disease is characterized by gingival bleeding, redness, recession and bone loss because of tartar and plaque build-up in hard to reach areas.

In short, the gums and bone become infected with bacteria-laden plaque and tartar that is attached to the root surfaces of teeth.

These pathogenic bacteria (some fungi as well) cause the gums to swell and bleed from infection. This can result in halitosis (bad breath) and a bad taste when chewing your food. As the infection proceeds, the gums detach from the roots of the teeth causing exposed root surfaces which are more susceptible to decay. The bone then becomes affected and recedes from around the roots of teeth causing loosening of the teeth and, in the long run, can result in tooth loss. Studies have also shown links between chronic periodontal disease and more harmful systemic conditions like diabetes, coronary atherosclerosis (heart disease) and premature birth.

How is periodontal disease treated?

The preliminary treatment, called scaling and root planing, or deep scaling, is done with an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments. We numb your teeth and gums so we can clean and scale away tarter/plaque that is deep under the gumline and between teeth; Areas we can’t reach with a traditional cleaning. This ultrasonic scaler blasts away the plaque and tartar just by gliding over the tooth and root surfaces. It also emits a water spray to cleanse as it loosens the tartar. This scaling and root planing procedure is followed by a prophy-jet polishing which sprays a slurry of fine powder and water to polish the teeth and areas between teeth.
In addition, subgingival antibiotic placement, oral antibiotics, a prescription mouth rinse and laser treatment are also sometimes used to eradicate the infection. Patients with severe cases are encouraged to see one of our specialists for other treatment modalities.
For those patient with healthy gums or a mild case of gum disease, we perform a thorough traditional dental cleaning. This consists of a comfortable and painless scaling and polishing (without numbing) followed by home use of an anti-microbial mouth rinse.

What can I do to avoid periodontal disease?

Of course, adequate home brushing and flossing techniques are what really make the difference in the long run. Keep in mind that the circulation and immune systems of periodontal tissues are shared with the rest of your body. So keeping good oral health, in turn, improves your over-all health. The goal is to keep plaque and tartar levels low. This can be best accomplished by:

Taking inventory of your local supermarket’s large volume of sugary, processed and unhealthy foods is evidence that… Too many of us have unhealthy eating habits! Last I checked, roughly 30% of store shelves are loaded with candy, cookies, breakfast pastries, biscuits, etc. Most of us know to cut down on sugary foods, but did you know that ingredient listings don’t always label sugar as “sugar”? Sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, maltodextrin and dextrose are also high in sugar and can promote tooth decay as well as periodontitis. Most health experts would advise using healthier sweeteners in your foods like Xylitol. Also, foods like ketchup, bbq sauce and other condiments often have as much sugar ounce-for-ounce as soda so use them sparingly. Cranberry juice is beneficial and can reduce plaque accumulation by as much as 50%. Raw vegetables are good for oral health in addition to over-all well-being. Crunchy lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and apples aid in naturally removing plaque from your teeth. Finally, it is beneficial to take Vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E on a regular basis as these nutrients help fight disease, increase metabolism, boost your immune system and build healthy gums, bone and ligaments that make for strong teeth.

Let’s face it, keeping your teeth and gums clean and free of bacteria-laden plaque will directly reduce your chances of having periodontal disease. “But I don’t have the time to floss every night doc!” Ok, but how about flossing 3-4 times a week? Every little bit helps so don’t give up! We also recommend using a Sonicare toothbrush. This device is much more effective at removing plaque at and below the gumline than manual hand-brushing. If you notice red and bleeding gums then focus more time on those areas (usually the sides of back teeth along the gumline). Products like Listerine and Crest Pro-Health mouth rinses are also helpful at reducing the bacteria load. And finally, don’t forget that your most important brushing/flossing session is at night before you sleep.

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