At Woodcreek Dental, our periodontal maintenance treatment helps people with a history of periodontal disease manage and control their condition. Periodontal disease occurs when plaque, also referred to as microbial plaque/dental biofilm, accumulates unchecked and spreads beneath the gum line and hardens into tartar (dental calculus).
Poor diet (sugary foods and simple carbohydrates) coupled with poor oral hygiene habits are common risk factors for this disease. People who smoke or use tobacco, who have periodontal treatments (e.g., gum/ bone grafts, implants), bruxism, and treatment-resistant periodontitis are also at higher risk for periodontal disease.
The Stages of Periodontal Disease
Plaque contains bacteria, which produce acid that causes tooth decay and cavities. The body's immune system response to the presence of this bacteria results in inflammation and bleeding in the gums. The resulting condition is called gingivitis, and it is the first sign of periodontal disease.
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a severe condition that compromises the strength and integrity of the structures surrounding the tooth. Those structures include gum tissue, cementum (surface layer of the tooth root), periodontal ligament (fibrous connective tissue), and the alveolar bone (the ridge of the jawbone that contains the tooth sockets).
Teeth loss is a common symptom of periodontitis. In addition to dental issues, periodontal disease is linked to several serious health issues. These issues include the increased risk for preeclampsia, premature birth, low birth weight, as well as heart disease and diabetes.
Treating Periodontal Disease
To date, no cure for periodontal disease has been discovered. Once uncovered in a patient, continual treatment is the only option. To keep the condition from reoccurring and to halt the progression of tooth decay, we recommend periodontal maintenance happen regularly.
Periodontal maintenance starts after a patient with periodontal disease has undergone deep cleaning treatments. During the deep cleaning treatment sessions, our dentists will use two non-surgical procedures; teeth scaling and root planing. For dental scaling, we use either handheld or ultrasonic instruments. Our dentist will carefully remove dental plaque and calculus from the tooth's surface just below the gumline, after desensitizing the gum and tooth roots with a local anesthetic.
The second step involves root planing. This procedure addresses the pockets and rough spots created by plaque pushing its way beneath the gumline. Root planing smoothes the surface of the root and facilitates the reattachment of teeth to the surrounding gum tissue. Depending on the severity of the condition, teeth scaling and root planing can take multiple sessions to complete.
After the deep cleaning sessions, we recommend periodontal maintenance every three months. During those appointments, we will visually examine the oral tissue in the mouth and measure the depth of any periodontal pockets to ensure that the gums are healing and tightening around the tooth again. The deep cleaning treatment is repeated as needed, and the teeth will be polished and flossed after cleaning. Digital x-rays will be taken periodically to check on healing not visible to the naked eye.
Bleeding gums and teeth are the first sign of periodontal disease. If you are experiencing these or any troubling symptoms, please call Woodcreek Dental at (805) 738-5566 today.