Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding and supporting the teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Bacterial plaque is a primary cause of periodontal disease in susceptible individuals. Proper daily brushing and flossing, along with regular hygiene visits as recommended by Dr. Blaustein, will control the progression of this disease.
Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors. However, it is mainly caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar).
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Scaling and root planing: non-surgical periodontal therapy
Non-surgical treatment such as scaling and root planing is the cornerstone of effective periodontal therapy, and Dr. Blaustein offers this deep-cleaning procedure under local anesthetic in his Chelsea, NYC office. Adjunctive antimicrobial therapy may follow active therapy if needed.
Scaling and root planing is a meticulous cleaning of the tooth’s deep root surfaces to remove tartar and hardened plaque (calculus) from gum pockets. The treatment also eradicates harmful toxins produced by bacteria. Both are performed using a combination of hand instruments and electronic ultrasonic scalers, intended to minimize discomfort. The ultrasonic scaler vibrates at a high frequency to remove plaque, calculus and other debris, which is washed away with the instrument’s water irrigation.
Dr. Blaustein, or his Dental Hygienist, typically starts with the ultrasonic instrument for removing large plaque deposits from the roots and crowns of the teeth. Hand instruments called periodontal scalers are also used to ensure the tooth’s surface is smooth and clean.
Depending on the extent and severity of your periodontal disease, Dr. Blaustein, or his hygienist, may use an injectable anesthetic to numb the area or a topical agent that is applied within the gum pockets.
The level of discomfort can vary after scaling and root planing. Patients may experience some soreness after treatment. Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain-relief medication can help to eliminate pain. Remember to brush and floss gently to promote healing
Temporary tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and mild bleeding from the gums is normal. This usually stops in a few days. To help expedite the healing process, it’s best to stop smoking since tobacco can hamper your body’s ability to fight off infections.
It’s important to remember that this periodontal therapy is most successful in the long-term only if patients continue to maintain good daily oral hygiene. Dr. Blaustein and his staff will suggest simple tips to help improve your recovery and deter future periodontal infections.
If you have any questions about non-surgical periodontal therapy, or would like to schedule any type of general dentistry procedure with Dr. Blaustein at his state-of-the-art Midtown area dental practice, please call 212-243-6081.