Periodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on the health of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth. A dentist or periodontist works with patients on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the gums, bone, and ligaments in the jaw.
Periodontal disease is mainly caused by plaque, the sticky bacteria that form on the teeth. Without proper oral hygiene, this plaque can cause infection in the gums, bones, and tissues. In addition to poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease may be caused by diseases that suppress the immune system, genetic predisposition, tobacco use, and certain medications. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause tooth loss.
Regular twice yearly visits to your dentist will aid in the early detection and treatment of periodontal disease.
When plaque has built up below the gum line, periodontal scaling may be needed. This process is similar to the plaque removal that is performed in a routine dental exam and cleaning. It can be considered a “deep cleaning” for the teeth.
The accumulation of plaque under the gums can cause food debris to stick to teeth. This debris can be very irritating to the gums and can lead to cavities or gingivitis. Usually gums are swollen and uncomfortable.
A local anesthetic is provided so that the patient is comfortable as the hygienist or dentist scales the tooth below the gum line. It may be done with a regular scaling tool or an ultrasonic device. This scaling may make the surface of the tooth feel rough, so a root planing may be done to smooth the surface. This will lessen the chance of future plaque buildup in the roughened area. When the plaque is removed, the gums will shrink back tightly to the teeth.
This early intervention to periodontal disease may prevent future issues related to gum disease.
For a short while after the procedure, increased sensitivity to heat and cold may be noted. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help with this discomfort.