Gum Treatments: Treating Periodontal Disease
Even if you take very good care of your teeth, there may come a time when your dentist suggests that you get gum treatments using methods called scaling and planing. These are important procedures that can help ensure that your teeth stay healthy, and they can protect your gums from serious gum disease.
What is Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)?
When plaque is on your teeth, this can be removed effectively by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings. However, if plaque has the chance to accumulate, it can harden into tartar, which isn’t removed so easily. Even worse, bacteria thrive in tartar and plaque and begin to multiply.
To fight this infection, your body makes new blood vessels in your gums, which is why, in the early stages of gum disease, your gums begin to look red and swollen. And because the bacteria are irritating the gums, they may also bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth, or even when you’re eating.
This first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and if it is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In periodontitis, “pockets” are formed when the inner layer of the gum pulls away from the teeth. These pockets easily collect bacteria and debris and can become infected. The bacteria begin to make toxins, which break down the bone and tissue that holds teeth in place. The pockets begin to get even deeper, and bone and tissue break down even more. Without solid bone to hold them in place, teeth become loose and fall out.
Some research even suggests that periodontitis can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other serious health issues.
Signs of periodontitis include swollen gums that are tender when touched, gums that are bright red or purple, pus between your gums and teeth, bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, loose teeth, and a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down. You may notice that as the pockets get bigger and bigger and your gums pull away from your teeth that your teeth look longer than they normally do.
To keep your gum disease from advancing from gingivitis to periodontitis, Dr. Ira Morrow may recommend scaling and planing.
What is Dental Scaling and Planing?
Although these are technically two separate procedures with different goals, they are usually performed at the same time.
Dental scaling is done to remove tartar from the surface of your teeth, and it also includes cleaning thoroughly below the gum line. Scaling is especially important for cleaning out the pockets that can form when gums move away from teeth because of gum disease. Tartar builds up easily in these pockets, and it can’t be removed simply by brushing your teeth. Dr. Morrow has to use special tools to remove it.
Dental root planing is done to clean the surface of the tooth root and then to smooth it. Bacteria easily stick to bumpy surfaces, and so smoothing the root means the bacteria doesn’t have anywhere to adhere.
Dental Scaling and Planing Procedure
Your dental scaling and planing treatments may be divided into two or more appointments, depending on how advanced your gum disease is and on how bad the tartar build up is.
Before he begins, Dr. Morrow will numb your gums. Then, he will use special instruments to clean off your teeth in the scaling process. He may use ultrasonic instruments to remove the larger chunks of plaque and then move on to handheld instruments to get rid of smaller pieces and to clean the roots. He may use a water irrigation system to help flush debris away from the teeth.
Dental Scaling and Planing Recovery and Aftercare
Your teeth and gums will feel sore after scaling and planing, and they may bleed a bit. Dr. Morrow may prescribe pain killers, but, if not, you can take an over-the-counter pain killer. Your teeth and gums may be sensitive to hot and cold, but this should only last for a few days. Although your mouth will be sensitive, you should try to get back to your brushing and flossing routine as soon as possible. Dr. Morrow might recommend a special antiseptic mouthwash, to ensure that you get rid of any remaining bacteria. To speed up your recovery, you should stick to soft foods in the days after your procedure. You should avoid smoking. If you are prone to tartar build up, your dentist may recommend that you see him more often for cleanings, possibly every three to four months.
If you think you might have gum disease, it is not something you should ignore! Dental scaling and planing might just save your teeth! Call Dr. Morrow today at (914) 476-4040 to make an appointment at his dental office in Yonkers, New York!