Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the structures that support the teeth, which are the gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone. The disease is frequently painless in the early stages, so many people aren’t aware they have an oral problem until serious damage has occurred. This is just one of the many reasons regular dental appointments are so important, gum disease can be effectively treated in the earlier stages with scaling and root planing.
During dental examinations, Dr. Sameet Koppikar checks the gums for signs of the disease. He measures the spaces between your gums and your teeth with a periodontal probe to see if there have been any changes since your last checkup. The sulcus is a v-shaped area between your gums and tooth. It is normally very shallow, about 3mm or less. If periodontal disease develops, the groove deepens into a pocket that can harbor bacteria because it is extremely difficult to clean, worsening the disease.
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the condition. Scaling and root planing are often recommended when the when the periodontal pockets are deeper than three millimeters. Scaling will remove the plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline. Planing smoothes the tooth’s roots and allows the gum tissue to heal. Additionally it helps prevent plaque from accumulating on the surfaces of the tooth root.
Although scaling and root planing may be effective in treating periodontal disease, Dr. Koppikar believes that the very best treatment for any dental condition is prevention. There are steps you can take to help prevent gum disease, including:
- Practice excellent oral hygiene. Brush your teeth for a full two minutes at least twice a day. Make sure to clean every surface of every tooth, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline. Floss daily. Flossing cleans the areas that your toothbrush cannot reach. If you skip flossing, you are missing nearly 35 percent of the surfaces of your teeth. Finish your oral hygiene routine by rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Don’t smoke, or use “smokeless tobacco” According to research, tobacco plays a significant part in 50 percent of all chronic gum disease cases.
- Eat a healthy diet. The bacteria that cause gum disease thrive on sugars. Reduce the frequency and quantity of sugar-laden foods and beverages.
- Maintain regular dental visits for examinations and professional cleanings.
Become an advocate of your own oral health, call (602) 954-8200 and schedule an appointment today with a doctor and dental team dedicated to helping their patients achieve optimal oral health.