Research estimates that more than half of adults have periodontitis, commonly referred to as gum disease. Many Americans who are plagued with periodontitis are unaware that their oral health is suffering. Remarkably, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, yet this disease is preventable and treatable.
What is periodontitis?
Gum disease begins as gingivitis, which leads to gums that are red, swollen and bleed easily, sometimes sensitive, too. When the bacteria that naturally occur in our mouths are not removed with regular brushing and flossing, it hides under the gums and around the teeth, and eventually plaque and tartar will form. Tartar is a hard substance that harbors bacteria, and can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning.
What to expect during a dental cleaning
A dental hygienist usually performs a dental cleaning by using a special dental instrument known as a scaler, which helps to remove buildup from your teeth and the gumline. He or she will also polish and floss your teeth, and may measure your gum depths with a tiny probe – this step is painless for most patients. However, sometimes a scaling and root planing is necessary to effectively clean the tartar buildup from around the teeth and under the gumline. If tartar is left under the gums, it can advance the gum disease to a more serious stage.
Treating periodontitis with scaling and root planing
The scaling and root planing procedure may sound scary, but it is not. It simply accomplishes the same thing as a regular dental cleaning, but a more amped up version of it. A scaling and root planing is essentially a “deep cleaning” of your teeth and under the gums. Sometimes, patients may require anesthesia to protect against tooth sensitivity but can often undergo the procedure without any.
There are certainly other treatments necessary to combat periodontitis, especially in advanced stages of the disease. However, routine visits to the dentist will ensure that we stay on top of the disease and keep it from progressing. Keep in mind that any treatment you receive from our office is only going to help so long as you maintain a healthy regimen of good oral hygiene at home. This means you must continue to brush twice a day, floss daily, and adhere to any other guidelines we suggest for you.
Prevention is key
Since many adults are unaware of their oral health condition, it is imperative not to skip dental exams and checkups. If you have periodontitis, ignoring the issue will only make matters worse, and eventually, lead to pain in the mouth or tooth loss. Be sure to practice an at-home regimen of brushing twice per day, and flossing once per day, as well as visiting the dentist twice a year. During your checkup, the dentist or hygienist will determine if you need a scaling and root planing treatment.
For questions about this procedure, or other preventive services that we offer, call the office of Wall Street Dentistry today at (256) 878-0525 and schedule a consultation.
Wall Street Dentistry provides total oral health care for patients in Albertville, Boaz, and Guntersville, Alabama.