Periodontal (gum) disease is insidious. It is an infection of the gums that starts out as plaque, an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it harbors bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums. This is the early stage of gum disease known as Gingivitis. Left untreated, Gingivitis becomes Periodontitis which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth AND the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth and you don't know why.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered linkage between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes - even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.
In the past, fear of painful dental surgery has kept people with gum disease from seeking the care they needed. Well, those days are gone forever. The first line of treatment is scaling and root planing. Different from dental prophylaxis (removal of plaque and tartar above the gumline), scaling and root planing is performed to treat gum disease, rather than to prevent disease.
Scaling and root planing may require local anaesthetic for patient comfort. After the patient is comfortable, plaque and calculus above and below the gumline is thoroughly removed (scaling) and any roughness of the root surface is smoothened (root planing). At our office, our patients benefit from laser therapy as part of the periodontal package.
The patient is re-evaluated 6-8 weeks after the procedure to assess effectiveness of procedure. If deemed effective, and the disease progression is halted, the patient would be maintained on a 3-4 visits/year schedule. Occasionally, the disease may be so aggressive that more treatments may be necessary.