Following are answers to some of the most common questions regarding Periodontal (gum) Health:
What is the difference between a periodic dental hygiene appointment and a “deep cleaning?”
Regular professional cleanings with your dentist or hygienist are designed to help maintain a state of dental health, through removal of foreign material that has collected on the teeth since the last visit and equipping the patient to keep things healthy at home. If a person has an unhealthy gum situation – either gingivitis (gum inflammation) or periodontitis (loss of supporting bone structure from around the teeth), then active therapy is necessary to address the areas of concern. This is why a “deep cleaning,” more accurately referred to as Active Periodontal Therapy, may be performed.
What are the goals of Active Periodontal Therapy?
A. The goals are to remove the foreign material (plaque and tartar) from the teeth, to equip the patient to minimize future accumulation through good home care, and to develop a personalized plan for the maintenance of oral health in the future.
What is involved in Active Periodontal Therapy?
A. The most obvious component is that of thoroughly cleaning the teeth – both above and below the level of the gums – so that healing can occur. In order to make sure this is a comfortable process, we usually provide local anesthetic, and also perhaps Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) or Oral Sedation. We also employ a special liquid irrigant, used underneath the gums, to combat harmful bacteria. In order to facilitate long-term success, we also make sure patients know which areas of the mouth warrant special attention, and we make recommendations regarding which home care products would be most helpful for their particular situation.
Why is Periodontal (gum) Health so important?
A. A few decades ago, the primary focus of professional oral hygiene treatment was to help preserve the teeth for life. This is still an important goal, but now there is an even more critical goal, which is to have a positive effect on a patient’s systemic health. More and more studies are revealing the link between oral health and overall systemic health. When unhealthy bacteria are present in the mouth, there is no wall between the mouth and the rest of the body – these bacteria can contribute to heart problems, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and a host of other maladies. Conversely, when the mouth is healthy and well-maintained, these systemic problems are less likely to occur.
How can I know if I have Periodontal Problems?
There are some readily apparent symptoms, such as bleeding gums and bad breath, but the two best diagnostic tools are found at your dentist’s office. First, a complete set of x-rays will give important information regarding the level of the bone support remaining under the gums. Secondly, specific measurement of your gums can be made to determine whether or not bone loss has had an unhealthy effect on the gum health. These measurements should be gathered periodically on all patients, and they should be done more frequently on patients with a history of gum disease.
What if I have more questions about this topic?
Give us a call at (757)873-3001. We want to help you!