Gum disease is a common problem. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, almost half of all adults over 30 have a problem with their gums.
It's also a common cause of tooth loss. As the gums become infected, they recede (or come away) from the tooth surface, ultimately loosening your teeth and causing them to fall out if left untreated. Regular, diligent oral care can keep your gums healthy and prevent this kind of long-term damage. If you do develop gum disease, however, giving your teeth deep cleaning can remove the infection and tartar so your gums can heal.
How Gum Disease Affects Your Teeth
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by bacteria that live naturally in your mouth, but if your mouth isn't kept clean, this bacteria can build into larger populations. Their resulting waste, states the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), becomes a sticky white substance called dental plaque, which can then harden into a yellow mineralized substance called tartar, or calculus. The best way to prevent gum disease is to remove this bacterial residue before it hardens to a point where you can't remove it on your own.
As plaque and tartar continue to build up on your teeth, pockets may develop between the teeth and gums. Under normal conditions, there is a small area between the gum tissue and the tooth, but inflammation caused by gum disease causes this area to become red, swollen and deeper in depth. Your dentist or dental hygienist can measure the pockets with a special tool during your regular dental examinations. If they become too deep, you might need a special treatment to control your gum disease.
How Teeth Deep Cleaning Works
A teeth deep cleaning helps clear the plaque, tartar and bacteria out of these pockets so your gums can heal. Another name for this type of procedure is scaling and root planing, according to the AAP. Using special tools, your dental hygienist cleans tartar that has collected along and below the gum line. He can also remove rough areas on the roots that are exposed due to gum recession. Removing these rough surfaces reduces the space where bacteria can gather.. As you can imagine, this is a more thorough cleaning than is usually administered during your average checkup. You might require a local anesthetic during the procedure.
Throughout the process, your dentist or dental hygienist might clean all your teeth at once, or perform the cleaning procedure over the course of several appointments, usually working on one or two quadrants of the mouth at each visit. This allows the treated portions of the mouth to heal before the next section is addressed. You may even be asked to return for additional cleaning after three months, rather than waiting six months for your next regular visit.
Your dentist will supply you with instructions on how to care for your teeth after your procedure. Generally speaking, you'll need to be careful about what you eat and how you brush, as the gum tissue may be sensitive. Expect to avoid smoking and alcohol, as well as foods that are spicy or difficult to chew. Brushing should be done very carefully, and you should wait at least a day before flossing. Depending on how extensive your treatment was, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics and pain medication, which you can take per your dentist's instructions.
Why Is Deep Cleaning Necessary?
Deep cleaning is much less invasive than gum surgery, which is used if gum disease reaches those serious stages. As with any medical or dental condition, it's better to treat the individual effects before they require more complicated forms of treatment. In early phases, gingivitis can be treated with products like Colgate® PerioGard® mouth rinse, which is available as a prescription from your dentist.
To prevent gingivitis and gum disease, brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist twice a year. Regular, diligent oral hygiene and semiannual dental checkups help to keep your teeth and gums healthy in the short term, so you'll have a beautiful smile for many years to come.