Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Everyone wants pearly whites, but perhaps even more important than the teeth are the supporting structures below the teeth: gums and bone.
September is National Gum Care Month, and to honor that, I’m going to discuss more about gum health and how you can ensure a healthy smile for your lifetime.
When you come in for your routine dental exam and cleaning, the dentist and hygienist will check the health of your gums. If your gums are especially inflamed or have extensive tartar build up, you may be recommended to have periodontal therapy treatment.
What is periodontal therapy? Periodontal therapy, sometimes erroneously referred to as a deep cleaning, is a treatment that cleans between the gums and teeth down to the roots. Additionally, liquid antibiotics and a localized application of a diode laser are used to further clean and disinfect the gum tissues. This process may require a few visits in order to complete the treatment. It is more extensive than a standard cleaning and is designed to treat gum disease and to stop it from becoming worse.
What’s the difference between periodontal therapy and a regular teeth cleaning? Your mouth is full of bacteria and plaque, which is why brushing and flossing twice a day are recommended. Routine cleanings help to remove the plaque that builds up on your teeth each and every day. Most of that plaque is found near or below the gum line, which is where we tend to miss when brushing. If left behind, plaque hardens to tartar, which requires a dental professional to remove.
If regular hygiene is not maintained, or if you have a genetic predisposition to gum disease, your gums may show signs of gingivitis – red, swollen gums that bleed easily when touched. If left untreated, this can result in periodontal disease, an infection of the gum and bone that support your teeth which can lead to eventual tooth loss.
To determine if the infection exists, x-rays and pocket depth readings are taken into consideration. When there is evidence of this infection, the need for interceptive gum therapy is required with the goal to prevent disease progression.
To compare a regular teeth cleaning with periodontal therapy is almost like comparing apples and oranges because they are designed to do very different things. The goal of a regular cleaning is preventative maintenance and the goal of a periodontal therapy is to stop the progression of periodontal disease.
Do I really need periodontal therapy? Dr. Singh or your dental hygienist can tell you for sure. If your visit to the dentist reveals significant pockets (4 mm or greater), then you are at risk for (or in the stages of), periodontal disease. This makes you a candidate for the therapy and it is highly recommended if you want to stop and prevent the progression of the disease. Without treatment, the bacteria that created the pockets in your gums will continue to create plaque, tartar, and bone loss.
If you are told you need a deep teeth cleaning, you’re not alone! According to the American Academy of Periodontology, nearly half of adult Americans suffer from gum disease. Still not convinced? More and more research has shown a direct link between the progression of gum disease and the development of more serious illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, dementia and more. Bottom line, if your dentist or hygienist says you need periodontal therapy to treat periodontal disease, you owe it to your overall health to take care of it.
I encourage you to take action and schedule an appointment with Smiletheory today.
Know someone in need of a dentist? We’d love to help. Request an appointment on our website at sanjose.dental