Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum disease is usually painless and is a “silent diseases,” like high blood pressure; therefore most people are not aware that they have it. Our patients are usually surprised when we inform them that gum disease, not tooth decay, is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease starts out as plaque, an opaque film that naturally forms on teeth, hardens to form calculus or tartar. As tartar builds up around teeth, it harbors bacteria which attack the soft tissue around the gums. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Symptoms include red swollen gums, bleeding, bad breath and, sometimes, an unpleasant taste in the mouth. If untreated, gingivitis becomes periodontal disease. At this stage of gum disease, bacteria destroy both the gums and the supporting bone structure. Pockets form where teeth are separated from the gums and surrounding bones.
The overwhelmingly high prevalence of gum disease has been recently confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who reported that one out of two American adults over the age of 30, or 64.7 million American adults, have gum disease. At our office, we are committed to identifying and treating our patients’ periodontal disease early, not only to save their teeth, but also to prevent the infection from spreading into the bloodstream and cause serious health risks, such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
We provide periodontal treatments depending upon the type and severity of the disease. Our doctors will perform a comprehensive gum evaluation and recommend the appropriate treatment. Periodontal services that we perform routinely are:
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing (Deep Cleaning): Once gum disease has begun to destroy the gum and bone around teeth, your toothbrush at home and an ordinary cleaning at the dentist’s office will not be sufficient in stopping the progress of the infection. It is necessary to professionally and carefully remove the plaque and tartar below the gum line, a procedure called periodontal scaling. Root planing smoothes the root surfaces, which allows the gum tissue to heal and to reattach to the tooth. Deep cleanings are performed while the area is numb, keeping the patient comfortable and pain free.
Lasers in the Treatment of Gums
We have been using dental lasers in our practice for over a decade to effectively treat gum disease and other gum conditions. A laser is an instrument that produces a very narrow intense beam of light energy. This beam of light has the ability to remove infected gum tissues in a periodontal pocket or an overgrowth of gum in certain areas in the mouth. Lasers have become an invaluable asset in our office because very precise treatments can be performed with minimal bleeding and swelling due to the laser’s exceptional ability to seal blood vessels and nerve endings.