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How Deep Cleaning Your Teeth Prevents Severe Gum Disease

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

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 it doesn't become more severe. By practicing good oral hygiene, catching gum disease 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.

What is Gum Disease?

If you have gum disease, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of adults in the US over the age of 30 (47.1 percent if you want to be specific) have periodontal disease.

If you have a mild case, bacteria has built up around your gumline, and you've likely developed gingivitis. You may experience some inflammation and potentially have some bleeding in your gums.

If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), this happens when bacteria flourishes and becomes a sticky white substance called plaque. The plaque then hardens into a yellow substance called tartar, which requires professional cleaning to remove. If you don't get rid of the tartar and plaque in your gums, your tissue could begin to recede. Your bone could wear away; your teeth may loosen and could potentially even fall out. 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.

Prevention of Severe Gum Disease

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 toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance for fighting gingivitis and plaque.
  • Clean between your teeth and beneath your gumline with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day.
  • Use an antimicrobial mouthrinse.
  • 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 your gums' health, don't wait until your next checkup – make an appointment with a dental professional right away.

If your dental professional notices plaque buildup, inflammation in your gums, or deepening pockets in the gum tissue around your teeth, they will probably recommend that you get a deep cleaning.

How Does Deep Cleaning Treat Gum Disease?

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 anesthetic 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 American Dental Association (ADA) says you could experience discomfort 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 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.

Can Teeth Fall Out After Deep Cleaning?

Sometimes, plaque and tartar buildup fill the pockets in your gums, making your teeth feel more stable than they are. After they remove the buildup, your teeth can feel loose and like they are more likely to fall out. Despite that feeling of looseness, removing this buildup helps your gums and roots reattach to your teeth, increasing the chances they will be part of your smile in the longterm.

What Happens If Your Periodontitis Requires Surgery?

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, there's about a 50/50 chance that you have it in some form already), then going to the dentist for regular checkups 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 having a future of oral health that makes you smile.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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