Being told you have gum disease can be scary. But at the experts at Grace Dental Group in San Francisco, CA, know just what to do to treat it and keep your mouth as healthy as possible and your teeth nice and strong. Periodontitis can be treated, and we can also help you understand how to avoid it.
Before we get into how we treat gum disease, let’s cover what it is, exactly.
Bateria, plaque, and tartar
Anytime you eat, drink, or even just breathe, you’re introducing bacteria into your mouth. With proper dental hygiene — regular brushing and flossing — you remove most of those bacteria. However, if you don’t floss, and sometimes even with proper care, some of the bacteria may stay on your teeth.
When that happens, it becomes plaque. Plaque can be removed with careful hygiene or by a professional dental cleaning. Without removal, it becomes tartar, which is a harder, more difficult-to-remove substance.
As plaque and tartar buildup, your gums become irritated. They may swell, become inflamed, or even bleed. When you reach that stage, you have periodontitis or gum disease.
Plaque and tartar can form pockets deep beneath your gum line and can even begin to degrade the bones of your jaw. Without proper care, you can get an infection that causes even more damage.
Treatment: scaling and root planing
The most important thing to remember is that by undergoing a professional deep cleaning that includes scaling and root planing, you avoid worsening problems. Without proper treatment, you could lose teeth or even bone tissue.
Depending on the severity of your periodontal disease, you may need to take an antibiotic before you get a deep dental cleaning to get any infection under control.
The next step is called scaling. It’s the removal of all the plaque and tartar, both above and below your gum line. You may receive an anesthetic prior to this portion of the treatment so you remain comfortable.
Once all of the buildup is gone, we perform a procedure called root planing, which is the process of smoothing the roots of your teeth. The smoothing makes it more difficult for plaque and tartar to stick to the roots of your teeth again and also helps your gums reattach snugly to your teeth.
What to expect after
Scaling and root planing are nonsurgical procedures, but you may need some time to recover. Your gums might be swollen and sore for a day or two, and your teeth may be sensitive for a week or so. Our staff provides detailed instructions about caring for your mouth as you recover.
At a follow-up appointment, we examine your mouth to make sure that all plaque and tartar are completely gone. In some instances, you may need more scaling and root planing to ensure the tooth surfaces are clean and your gums can heal properly.