At your initial exam you will be screened for gum and bone disease by taking measurements of your gum levels in 6 places around each tooth. After an evaluation of the X-rays and measurements, Dr. Kasper will determine which type of hygiene appointment is necessary, medically, for your individual needs. A regular dental prophylaxis (prophy) is recommended for persons who do not have any bone loss, periodontal disease, or infection around their teeth. There should also be no bleeding, mobility of teeth, receded areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth, or gaps where the spaces around the roots of the teeth are exposed. In other words, the mouth should be healthy, with no gum and bone problems.
Periodontal Disease: What is it?
Periodontal disease is diagnosed during a periodontal examination. This type of exam will always be part of your regular dental check-up at Colorado Family Dentistry.
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed. Typically 3-4mm pockets with bleeding are present.
As calculus (hardened plaque)and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. The pockets around the teeth become filled with bacteria and pus and deeper pockets are present (4-6mm). The gums are irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.
The teeth continue to lose support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament are destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become loose and will be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present. Typically 7mm + pocketing is present.
How is it treated?
Periodontal treatment methods vary depending on the type and severity of the disease. Dr. Kasper will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.
If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, it is reversible and typically an increased frequency of thorough dental hygiene appointments will be recommended along with interim appointments to assess for healing. Oral hygiene instructions will also be given for proper home care to prevent recurrence of the disease.
If the disease is in the more advanced stages, a special hygiene appointment called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended. The affected area of the mouth is numbed, and tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric toothbrush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.
If the pockets do not heal following scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths to make the teeth easier to clean. It may also be recommended that you see a periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).
How is it maintained?
Daily home care is the most important part of maintaining periodontal health. Incredibly, it only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to harden and turn into calculus!
Once your initial periodontal treatment has been completed, it is recommended that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. It is important to remember that treating periodontal disease once does not mean that you no longer have it. Just as with any other chronic disease, maintenance is imperative to keeping the disease in check.