A sticky, colorless film on your teeth is the first sign of their activities. This substance is called plaque, and it emits acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. Hardened plaque is called calculus (tartar). When it accumulates above and beneath the gum line, it triggers a chronic dental inflammatory disease called periodontitis.
Periodontitis compromises the integrity of critical dental structures. For this reason, it's the leading cause of tooth loss. These diseases also increase the risk of medical conditions like stroke, osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes, among others.
Signs of Periodontitis
Gingivitis is the first sign of periodontitis. Your gums may look red and swollen, and bleed when brushed. A discolored layer of bacterial plaque may also be noticeable on your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to mild, moderate, or advanced periodontitis. Symptoms of this include persistent halitosis (bad breath) gum recession, trouble chewing, and suddenly sensitive or loose teeth.
What To Expect During Periodontal Maintenance
Periodontal maintenance takes about 45 minutes per quadrant (upper left, upper right, lower left, or lower right), and we work one section per appointment. We may take x-rays to assess the extent of the disease and to monitor treatment progress.
Dental scaling and root planing are the two, standard, non-surgical periodontal techniques used for the procedure. Scaling involves using hand-held instruments called a dental scaler and a curette to force plaque and tartar off the enamel.
We may also use an ultrasonic device. This tool has a vibrating metal tip that removes plaque and tartar. A water spray is used alongside it to wash away what comes off your teeth and also to keep the metal tip cool.
We then smooth the surface of the dental roots. This procedure is called root planing, and its purpose is to prevent the adhering of plaque and tartar to the enamel. This procedure also facilitates gum healing and gum and tooth reattachment. Numbing of the gums and tooth roots with local anesthesia is done to minimize discomfort during either procedure.
Following treatment, you'll receive specific oral hygiene instructions on how to use various cleaning aids with greater efficacy. We may also prescribe antibiotics for active or persistent gum infections. Regular follow-up appointments will also be recommended. The severity of the disease and your oral health condition determines the frequency of these appointments.
Periodontitis can be managed successfully. Catching the disease early can even save you from expensive and invasive dental procedures and treatments down the road. For additional information about periodontal maintenance, don't hesitate to call Northstar Dental at (303) 481-3901.