Wellness

3 things to know about gum disease and deep cleaning

Nearly half of American adults have some form of periodontal disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it’s a serious condition, periodontal disease is preventable and treatable. Here are three things to know about gum disease and deep cleaning of your teeth.

  1. Symptoms – Many people with gum disease are not aware of the problem. Often the disease is painless. Common signs are:
    • Bad breath
    • Loose teeth
    • Gums that are red, swollen, bleed easily, or pull away from the tooth
    • Pus around the teeth and gums
  2. Diagnosis – Every six months, schedule a checkup and cleaning appointment with your dental professional. They will remove plaque, polish tooth surfaces, and check the healthiness of gum tissue with a periodontal probe. This helps the dentist determine if gums have pulled away from teeth, bleed easily or have pockets that may have formed around the teeth. Periodontal pockets deeper than 4 to 5 millimeters may indicate the presence of bacteria. It’s important to remove the bacteria to protect bone structures and prevent tooth loss.
  3. Deep cleaning – For patients with deep periodontal pockets, and those with chronic gum disease, the dentist may recommend deep cleaning which involves scaling and root planing.
    • Scaling – During the procedure, a dental professional will remove plaque and tartar, a buildup of a yellowish-brown mineral, along and under the gums. These areas are not easily reached with regular tooth brushing, flossing or regular dental cleanings.
    • Root planing – This procedure involves cleaning the tooth roots using dental instruments or a laser to remove rough spots where bacteria can collect. This helps clean out bacteria that can lead to more serious gum problems.
    • Follow-up care – The dentist will prescribe an antibiotic for the infection and an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease any discomfort. The dentist may recommend follow-up appointments to verify healing, confirm the removal of bacteria and monitor your oral health.
Sources:

Colgate
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Dental Association
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

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