If you have periodontal disease, don't worry – it's probably not as scary as it sounds. Periodontal disease is synonymous with gum disease, and moderate cases are more common than you might think. You should, however, take gum disease seriously to ensure that it doesn't become more severe. By practicing good oral hygiene, getting your gum disease diagnosed early on, getting a deep cleaning, and following through with any treatments your dental professional recommends, you can get your gums back in great shape and maintain a healthy, happy smile.
How Deep Cleaning Your Teeth Prevents Severe Gum Disease
If you have gum disease, you are not alone. According to a large scale oral health survey of Singaporean adults conducted by the Health Promotion Board in 2003, 85% of the adults examined had some form of gum disease.
If you have a mild case, bacteria has built up around your gum line, and you've likely developed gingivitis. You may experience some inflammation and potentially have some bleeding in your gums.
At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. According to Singapore Dental Health Foundation, the supporting bone and fibres that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged at this stage. Your gums may begin to form a pocket below the gum line, which traps food and plaque. And if your gum disease progresses to advanced periodontitis, which is the final stage of gum disease, the bone surrounding the teeth could wear away and your teeth may need to be removed. In most cases, severe gum disease is preventable, so we're going to let you in on some great oral care advice so you can keep your winning smile intact.
The best way to prevent periodontitis is to practice good oral hygiene at home.
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Consider using a toothbrush with a tongue and cheek cleaner and a flexible head so you can clean in all directions.
- Use a good toothpaste for fighting gingivitis and plaque.
- Clean between your teeth with floss, interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day.
- Use an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
- And use a tongue scraper.
Be sure to see your dental professional for regular cleanings and to check the health of your teeth and gums. If you notice any irregularities or sensitivities in the health of your gums, don't wait until your next check-up – make an appointment with a dental professional right away.
If your dental professional notices plaque build-up, inflammation in your gums or deepening pockets in the gum tissue around your teeth, they will probably recommend that you get a deep cleaning.
If your dental professional diagnoses you with gum disease early, a deep cleaning (aka scaling and root planing) can reverse its effects. Your dental professional will remove plaque from your teeth and the pockets developed inside your gums using manual tools and ultrasonic vibrations. Your dentist can then smooth out the roots of your teeth to help ensure your gums reattach after the procedure. Scaling and root planing can require one or more visits, depending on the severity of your gum disease.
Your dentist may use a local anaesthetic to numb the area of your mouth they are cleaning. After the procedure, you may be prescribed antibiotics to completely rid your mouth of any infection that may have been present. If you're wondering how long it takes for gums to heal after deep cleaning, the discomfort can last for a day or two. You may still have sensitive gums for about a week and be prescribed pain medication while you heal.
Your dental professional will make the best recommendations for aftercare according to your individual needs but will likely recommend that you be careful about what you eat and how you brush your teeth until after your gums heal.
Learn more about scaling and root planing.
Sometimes, plaque and tartar build-up fill the pockets in your gums, making your teeth feel more stable than they are. After they remove the build-up, your teeth can feel loose and like they are more likely to fall out. Despite that feeling of looseness, removing this build-up helps your gums and roots reattach to your teeth, increasing the chances they will be part of your smile in the long term.
If you have advanced periodontitis that has developed beyond anything a deep cleaning can treat, you may require one of the following surgeries:
- Flap Surgery (Pocket Reduction Surgery)
Small incisions will be made in your gums, exposing the roots for more effective scaling and root planing.
- Soft Tissue Grafts
Tissue from the roof of your mouth (or another donor source) is attached to an area of gum recession.
- Bone Grafting
Synthetic bone, your bone, or donated bone is grafted to the bone around your tooth root, helping to prevent tooth loss.
- Guided Tissue Regeneration
A biocompatible material is placed in your gum to prevent unwanted tissue from entering an area of bone loss, allowing bone to grow back instead.
- Tissue-Stimulating Proteins
They can apply a gel containing proteins found in developing tooth enamel to the diseased tooth root. This gel stimulates the growth of healthy bone and tissue.
The best way to prevent gum disease begins at home by practicing good oral hygiene. If you do end up getting gum disease (and statistically, given that there are 85% adults with some form of gum disease, there's a high chance that you have it in some form already), then going to the dentist for regular check-ups is the best way to diagnose and treat it early. Then you can get a deep cleaning if necessary and ensure that inflammation doesn't develop into a more severe case of periodontitis. Together, you and your dental professional will be able to discuss the best options for your individual needs, and you'll be able to feel great about a future of oral health that makes you smile.