Periodontal Therapy, or Deep Cleaning
A deep cleaning (a.k.a. Scaling and Root Planing) is very different than a routine cleaning (a.k.a. Prophylaxis or continuing care visit).
A routine cleaning focuses on preventive dental care and the maintenance of healthy teeth and oral tissues by the removal of calculus, plaque, and common stains. Typically performed twice a year by a Registered Dental Hygienist or dentist, it is usually completed in one appointment.
Periodontal therapy is designed to help avoid periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of calculus, plaque, and stain on the crowns and root surfaces of teeth. It can begin as localized gingival inflammation and progress to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. Left untreated, this disease progresses to the ultimate loss of teeth.
In periodontal disease, gingival tissue may detach (pull away) from teeth, and periodontal pockets form. Periodontal therapy is intended to provide a healthy tissue environment in which tissues re-adapt to normal tooth surfaces by eliminating the cause of periodontal disease, hardened tartar and bacteria on the root surface and deep in tissue pockets. This procedure is typically done at two different appointments and is followed up by a complimentary 6 week re-care appointment where gum health is re-evaluated along with a maintenance cleaning.
Gum Disease, or Periodontal Disease
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.
Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:
- gums that bleed easily
- red, swollen, tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath or bad taste
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- any change in the fit of partial dentures
Some factors increase the risk of developing gum disease. They are:
- poor oral hygiene
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. It is often caused by hardened plaque called “tartar” which develops deep under the gum line, and is no longer able to be cleaned away by brushing and flossing. Chronic periodontitis is a prolonged bacterial infection that can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can occur at any age.
Aggressive periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy. Certain people, such as diabetics and smokers, are more likely to suffer from aggressive periodontitis.
Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.
It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Sometimes periodontal therapy (a.k.a scaling and root planning or deep cleaning) is needed to clean out tartar and bacterial infection to halt the progression of periodontitis. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.