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More on Periodontal Disease

What causes Periodontal diseases?

More than half of the adults over age 18 have some form of periodontal disease. There are many factors that can contribute to gum disease, some are smoking, home care, genetics, medical conditions. Often plaque is the major cause.  Plaque is a colorless, sticky film that forms on the teeth and on the tissues in your mouth and reforms every 24 hours.   Plaque gives a home to bacteria that produce harmful toxins.  If teeth are not cleaned properly from all tooth surfaces above and below the gum line, and especially in between the teeth, it accumulates, eventually hardens to form tarter (we call it calculus) and spreads down under the gum line.  This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets.  These pockets provide a home for more bacteria.  If the infected pockets are not treated, the disease can get worse.  A dangerous aspect of periodontal disease is the fact that it is often painless and without symptoms.  The diagnosis often comes as a surprise to the patient.

How will I be diagnosed?

Dr. Gotterer and the hygienist will review your complete medical and dental history with you.  We will discuss any medications or existing conditions that apply to you that might affect your periodontal health.  To accurately evaluate your gums a thorough comprehensive periodontal examination called periodontal probing will be done . A periodontal probe is a small measuring instrument and is placed in between your teeth and gums to determine the depth in millimeters of the periodontal pocket.  A periodontal pocket of up to 3mm is considered healthy.  Beyond 3mm may be a sign of gum disease.

How is periodontal disease treated?

Dr. Gotterer may recommend a treatment called scaling and root planning. In this treatment the plaque and tartar are carefully removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket.  This treatment may be done in several visits, depending on your needs.  The tooth’s root surfaces are then smoothed to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.  It is a very meticulous cleaning.  This procedure is usually done with a local anesthetic and very little discomfort accompanies this procedure.

The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics or other medications.  Sometimes these medications can be placed directly in the periodontal pocket.

Our hygienists are specially trained to perform certain services vital to your periodontal treatment.  Included are oral hygiene instruction and supervision, special periodontal cleanings, and periodontal maintenance after treatment has been completed.  In addition, they perform health status updates, nutritional evaluations and help to maintain and monitor periodontal conditions with accurate record keeping on a regular basis.  Our hygienists attend continuing education seminars and we take pride in their special abilities and skills.  They work closely with each patient to design personalized plaque control program, the cornerstone to successful periodontal therapy.  They provide the cleaning that will start the healing process, and they are also heavily involved in the maintenance of the teeth in health at the completion of treatment.  They are, therefore, a most valuable and integral part of our team.

Success of treatment

You will, in a sense, become part of our team, and a very important part, for as you will learn, much of the long term success of your treatment will be in your own hands.  A sincere commitment to good plaque control at home is an essential element to success.  We look forward to meeting you and to have  you join us in this mutual effort to treat your periodontal needs so that you may keep and enjoy your teeth in health and comfort for a lifetime!

 

How can I avoid getting periodontal disease?

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.

Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner.

Eat a balanced diet for good general and oral health

Avoid tobacco in any form

Visit the dental office regularly for professional cleaning.  With regular dental visits, your dentist can detect periodontal disease in the early stages.