The pursuit of oral health includes not only restoring the functionality of damaged or decayed teeth, but also maintaining the health of the tissues which surround your teeth. In everyday terms, these tissues are referred to as the gums – in dental speak, they are referred to as the periodontal tissues. Our goal is to keep both your teeth AND your periodontal tissues healthy so that you enjoy your natural teeth for as long as possible.
When the gums become red, inflamed and have a tendency to bleed, the condition is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease. Essentially, periodontal disease occurs when the inner layer of your gum and bone pull away from your teeth, which creates tiny pockets. These small spaces (pockets) between teeth and gums collect food particles, which then entices bacteria to enter the space and create an infection. Your body’s immune system works to combat the infection, but if left untreated, this continued infection will destroy the gum tissue and the underlying bone that supports your teeth. Ultimately, this process leads to gum recession, bone loss and eventually tooth loss.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a procedure we perform in our office that consists of a deep and careful cleaning of the periodontal areas and roots of the teeth. This procedure removes the bacterial toxins, tartar and plaque that have accumulated beneath the gum line. If necessary, we can additionally place a medicament called Arestin into the periodontal pocket. Arestin is a time-released antibiotic which helps destroy the damage-causing bacteria present in the pocket.
The Mouth-Body Connection
Many patients are not aware that there is a direct correlation between good oral health and overall health. Scientific studies have linked poor oral health with premature births, low birth weight babies and preeclampsia. Additional studies have shown links between periodontal disease and diabetes, heart attack and stroke. A growing body of research suggests that keeping your teeth and gums healthy should be seen as an important part of an overall plan for maintaining optimum health.
If you experience any of the following, please let us know at the time of your appointment so we can thoroughly assess the health of your gums.
- Swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding during brushing and flossing
- Teeth that have become loose or feel unstable
- Unexplained sores in your mouth
- Teeth that have started to appear longer in length with receded gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Changes in the way you bite or the way your partial denture fits
What is in your medicine cabinet may be affecting your periodontal health. Certain medications such as pain medicine, antihistamines, decongestants and diuretics can significantly reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth. The reduced saliva and resulting dry mouth can foster bacterial overgrowth or infection which may also lead to periodontal disease.