Periodontitis is a progressed stage of gum disease and is marked by the breakdown of the bone and gums that secure and support the teeth. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Though the main cause of gum disease is lack of oral hygiene, contributing factors include heavy smoking and diabetes. Unfortunately, bone that has been resorbed due to periodontal disease will not grow back, but aggressive professional treatment and thorough home care can prevent the situation from getting worse.

Diagnosis of Gum Disease

The early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, or inflammation around the gum line. If these systems appear, your dentist will check for the build up of calculus (tartar) below your gum line. Your dentist or hygienist may use a tool called a probe to test your gums for bleeding and measure periodontal pockets. X-rays are also helpful in evaluating the bone level around your teeth.

Scaling & Root Planing

Patients with gum and periodontal disease require help in cleaning the deeper pockets found in the mouth. This deep tissue removal of calculus restores your mouth to health below the gums. If left untreated, calculus build up propagates periodontal disease and irreversible bone loss. Not only will your bone begin to recede leaving your teeth more fragile and prone to loosening, it is linked to a number of other diseases.

Your hygienist will spend a significant amount of time on each tooth that requires this deep cleaning. Usually, only one fourth of your mouth will be completed per appointment. You should expect to receive anesthetic during this procedure since a cleaning of this depth is often uncomfortable. There are three levels of pain management available during this procedure, from topical gel, to a gel that is placed in each sulcus (gums around each tooth), to local anesthetic injection. Your hygienist will help you to choose which form of anesthetic is most appropriate for your procedure.

Periodontal Maintenance

After successful scaling and root planning, your hygienist will recommend that your mouth require a little extra attention above and beyond what is provided at a regular cleaning appointment. By coming in for periodontal maintenance, your hygienist can keep the bacteria growing in your mouth under control and help you to avoid further periodontal disease and bone loss. Generally, periodontal maintenance patients are recommended appointments at intervals of every 3-4 months.