Failing to visit the dentist annually and skipping basic oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing, will eventually catch up with most people. Maybe your teeth won’t start falling out, but the damage is already done. Usually, the evidence of poor oral health is found in the condition of your gums.
Gums Are Not Supposed to Bleed When Touched
Gums are supposed to be pink and tucked right up against the tooth. They shouldn’t bleed. They are not supposed to be painful to touch. They are definitely not healthy when they are sagging away from your teeth, creating pockets and voids.
During your annual appointment, dentists check for many things. Of course, they examine your teeth to check for cavities and other signs of decay but your gums also get inspected. With a probe, dentists evaluate your gums by measuring the depth of their pockets as well as other factors, such as tooth mobility and bleeding. Depending on what is found, your dentist will determine the severity of gum disease in your mouth.
Gingivitis Can Be Treated Before it’s too Late
If your gums are extremely sensitive and bleed when brushing or flossing, you may suffer gingivitis. A preliminary stage of gum disease, gingivitis worsens over time if left untreated. Poor oral hygiene causes the development of plaque. Plaque causes swelling, sensitivity, and some bleeding by irritating your gums. Fortunately, treatments can be accomplished in one or two appointments in most cases.
If untreated, gingivitis paves the way for a more advanced gum disease called periodontitis. This is when plaque on your teeth hardens into tartar, or calculus. As this substance builds, your gums draw away from your teeth, leaving pockets vulnerable to catching bacteria and, eventually, pus. People who suffer this form of gum disease can also experience bone loss.
Advanced periodontitis sets in when the gums become so inflamed and infected that they stop supporting your teeth. Bone loss can also be severe in some cases.
Periodontal Therapy Provides a Solution to Gum Disease
Fortunately, your dentist knows the solution to gum disease and soreness. Periodontal therapy can correct most forms of gum disease as long as significant damage hasn’t occurred. This therapy combines techniques designed to remove deposits from the tooth and root that would otherwise irritate the gums. The dentist administers medications to help the inflamed tissue heal.
For mild cases of gum disease, a thorough cleaning serves as an effective treatment. It all depends on the amount of damage and the depth of the gums’ pockets. At times, a second cleaning will finish the job if the first cleaning failed.
Scaling and Planing: Non-Surgical Periodontal Therapies
For more advanced gum-disease cases, special procedures must be performed. In addition to thoroughly cleaning the gums and pockets, scaling and planing are conducted to remove damage and improve chances for recovery. These procedures are time consuming and delicate, normally requiring the mouth be worked on one-quarter at a time and often after local anesthesia is applied.
Scaling is the removal of plaque and tartar from the areas above and below the gum line.
Removing these irritants will allow the gum to return to normal. Any toxins present will be eliminated in the process, decreasing the chances for infection.
Where the root has become rough and disrupted by calculus deposits, planing is used to smooth the surfaces. This prevents bacteria from continuing to attack these weakened areas and helps gum tissue return to health.
If the damage to your gums and roots is too severe to be treated with periodontal therapy or significant bone loss has occurred, rendering your teeth permanently unstable, your dentist will most likely refer you to a periodontist for specialized care.
See author’s Google+ Profile: Maria Marzo DDS
Non-Surgical Periodontal Procedures, Perio.org