Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. This stage is typically reversible with proper oral hygiene. However, as gingivitis progresses, it can become periodontitis, which attacks the supporting tissue and bone around the teeth forming “pockets.” This can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Periodontitis may affect the rest of the body as well. Once it reaches this status, there is no cure. However, with proper maintenance, the process can typically be controlled.
Some studies have shown the bacteria, bacterial toxins, and subsequent inflammation throughout the body can be harmful by increasing the chance of heart attack and stroke. Diabetics with periodontitis may have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Even more threatening, periodontitis can affect unborn children by possibly increasing the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
Typically, this “silent” disease is asymptomatic, meaning it usually does not cause pain. Some early warning signs of gum disease include persistent red, bleeding, and swollen gums.
Other symptoms include:
- Bleeding of the gums during brushing or flossing
- Bitterness from pus that escapes from the pockets around teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Receding gums, making the teeth appear longer than before
- The sensation of your teeth moving when biting/chewing
FAQs About Scaling/Root Planing
How is scaling and root planing different from a routine dental cleaning?
Unlike a regular dental cleaning, which focuses mainly on cleaning the visible portions of your teeth, scaling and root planing involves cleaning and smoothing the tooth structure (root) underneath your gums. Cleaning away the bacteria reduces the risks of periodontal disease, while polishing the root’s surface inhibits bacteria buildup in the future. Periodontal cleaning can be more complicated than a regular cleaning, and the procedure may take more than one visit to complete.
How complicated is periodontal cleaning?
Dr. Everett can perform minimally-invasive scaling/root planing treatment using ultrasonic equipment that more effectively breaks up bacteria, plaque, and tartar deposits under your gums. For more serious cases of gum disease, Dr. Everett may also recommend pocket reduction surgery to reduce periodontal pocket depth and further combat bacteria buildup.
What if my periodontal disease is too severe for scaling/root planing?
Periodontal cleaning is a preventive measure that is most effective during the early stages of gingivitis. More severe gum disease can destroy healthy tissues, making periodontal cleaning insufficient to address it. If necessary, you may also require soft-tissue grafting to rebuild diseased gum tissues, and one or more advanced measures for saving teeth that are at risk due to periodontal disease.
In areas of more severe periodontitis grafting can sometimes be done to increase the bone support of the root. Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) in conjunction with the use of barrier membranes, bone grafts, and/or growth factors, can increase your body’s natural ability to regenerate.
This is considered the most important part of your therapy. Just like a car needs proper maintenance with timely oil changes, tire rotations, etc., your body is no different. Periodontitis can reoccur even after successful therapy. Fortunately, a vast majority of patients’ periodontal health can be maintained with regularly scheduled periodontal maintenance cleanings.
Protect Your Oral and Overall Health with Scaling/Root Planing
If you notice the signs of gingivitis, or if your dentist notices them during your routine checkup and cleaning, then schedule non-surgical periodontal therapy as soon as possible. Email DrEverett@highplainsperio.com, or call our office in Lubbock, TX at 806-686-1262. We offer a free consultation (typically valued at $400) that includes any radiographs Dr. Everett may need for proper diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs and desires.