Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the tissues that surround and support your teeth, namely your gums, alveolar bone, and connective ligaments. These tissues are immensely important, especially if you want your teeth to last a lifetime. At Cooley Smiles, we can help you keep your periodontal health in pristine condition.
Most people probably know periodontal disease by its other name, gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the bacteria found in the thin biofilm (plaque) that constantly forms on your teeth and surrounding tissues. If plaque is not eliminated from the teeth and gums, it can calcify into tartar deposits. Tartar is much more difficult to remove. In fact, most tartar deposits can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
In response to plaque and tartar, your immune system produces toxins to eliminate the bacteria. Unfortunately, these toxins also target your periodontal tissues and cause an infection. This infection leads to the two forms of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the most common form of periodontal disease. Symptoms include red and swollen gums, as well as gums that tend to bleed easily. Most patients do not know they have gingivitis until their biannual checkup because the symptoms are usually painless. If gingivitis is left to progress into periodontitis, it can cause much more significant damage. Periodontitis can cause irreversible damage to the supportive bone, connective ligaments, and gingiva. As the infection worsens, your gums will recede away from the tooth, leading to deep periodontal pockets. Eventually, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. If we diagnose you with periodontitis, we usually recommend a procedure called scaling and root planing.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleaning, is a procedure that involves the removal of plaque and tartar form the surfaces of your crowns and roots. During the procedure, our dentists or our dental hygienist will use an ultrasonic scaler. An ultrasonic scaler implodes microscopic bubbles on the surface of your teeth to break up plaque and tartar deposits. The bubbles also kill off the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Once we have scaled all the plaque and tartar from your teeth, we will begin the root planing. During the root planing, we smooth all the rough areas on your roots' surfaces. A smooth surface will prevent the bacteria, plaque, and tartar from re-adhering below the gumline.
After the procedure, your gums should return to a healthy, pink color. They should also fit snugly around the tooth. If your gum tissues do not respond well to treatment, we may recommend surgical intervention.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
The good news is that periodontal disease is easy to prevent. With a strong oral health care routine, you can avoid the devastating effects of periodontal disease. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth on a daily basis. This is the best way to eliminate plaque from your teeth. Regular checkups and professional cleanings are also a crucial part of your periodontal health. If you have had periodontal disease before, we may recommend an antibacterial mouthwash for extra protection.
Schedule Your Appointment
If you would like to learn more or to get periodontal care, please call (425) 569-4545, and schedule your appointment today!