Checking for Periodontal Disease:
During your dental checkup, the dentist examines your gums. This is called a periodontal examination. A periodontal probe is used to measure the depth of the sulcus surrounding each tooth. Dental X-rays also may be taken to evaluate the amount of bone supporting the teeth and detect other problem not visible during your clinical examination.
If periodontal disease is diagnosed the hygienist and/or the dentist may provide treatment or may refer you to a Periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease).
How to treat Periodontal Disease?
The first step usually involves a special cleaning, called scaling and root planning. This is sometimes referred to as “periodontal” or “deep” cleaning. Scaling and root planning is a method of treating Periodontal Disease when pockets are greater than 3mm. Scaling is used to remove plaque and tartar beneath the gum line. A local anesthetic may be given to reduce any discomfort. Plaque and tartar are carefully removed down to the bottom of each pocket. This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and periodontal pockets to shrink.
At the next visit, the pocket depth will be checked to determine the effect of the scaling and root planning. Many patients do not require any further active treatment, only preventive care. Left untreated, surgery may be needed. If the disease has advanced to the point where the periodontal pockets are deep and the supporting bone is lost, additional treatment may be necessary. You may be referred to a Periodontist.
When a deep pocket develops, it is difficult to completely remove plaque and tartar. Surgery allows the dentist to access hard to reach areas that require removal of tartar and plaque. The gums are sutured back in place or a new position to make the tissue snug around the tooth. Bone surgery may be used to rebuild or reshape bone destroyed by periodontal disease. If excessive gum tissue has been lost a gum graft may be performed.
After surgery, the dentist may apply a protective dressing over teeth and gums and a special mouth rinse may be recommended or prescribed
Performing daily oral hygiene at home is a must but it is not enough to keep periodontal disease in check. Periodontal Maintenance is more complex than the normal cleaning (prophy). Patients that have had scaling and root planning need a deeper cleaning because they have pockets. The procedure removes plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line.
You will need more frequent visits than other patients since the gum pockets and other changes due to periodontal disease make it more difficult for you to clean plaque from your teeth especially below the gum line.