If you have gum disease, your dentist or periodontist has likely spoken with you about the various treatments required to improve the health of your gums. Deep cleanings for gum disease are one of the most tried and true methods to return gums to good health. But a deep cleaning for gum disease is not the same as the regular cleaning you might receive when you go to the dentist every six months. Deep cleaning is a bit more invasive, but in a good way, intended to get at that bacteria that has taken up residence in your gum pockets.
Before we get into the ABC’s of deep cleanings for gum disease, let’s talk about how bacteria develops in your gum pockets. It all starts, unfortunately, with poor dental hygiene. Plaque starts to build up when teeth aren’t brushed and flossed routinely, per your dentist’s recommendation. Bacteria begin to increase and cause an infection in the gums. The gums begin to get swollen and puffy, and often bleeding occurs.
As the gums start to recede, bacteria work their way in, taking up residence in the gum pockets. And, as the condition worsens, the gum line continues to expose more and more of your natural teeth, leaving you susceptible to cold or hot sensitivities, and unfortunately, a progression of gum disease. When the bacteria gets below the gum line, however, typical brushing and flossing at home, and routine dental cleanings at the dentist’s office, aren’t sufficient. In this case, a deep cleaning is necessary to remove the bacteria so the gums can begin to heal.
Here’s what you should know.
Dental deep cleaning is often referred to as scaling and root planing. This dental procedure, conducted by a specialized dentist or periodontist, leverages specialized techniques that rid the gums of plaque, tartar, and bacteria that have taken up residence below your gumline and down to your tooth roots. This procedure has two phases that successfully prevent gum disease from advancing and can even help prevent tooth loss, especially when good oral hygiene routines are put into practice afterward.
The first phase involves scaling. Your dentist will use either a manual scaler or an ultrasonic scaler to remove the plaque, bacteria, and tartar (calculus) from the surface of your teeth and underneath the gumline. Next is root planing, and it involves invasive and thorough scaling of the root surface to smooth any rough areas. Smooth root surfaces help prevent bacteria, plaque, and tartar from reattaching below your gumline. Further, root planing helps to reduce tissue inflammation, helping your gums to heal and attach more securely to your teeth.
Deep cleanings for gum disease can be uncomfortable because bacteria needs to be removed from below the gumline. For this reason, a local anesthetic is administered before the procedure to numb the area. After the procedure and once the anesthetic has worn off, the mouth is usually uncomfortable for a few days while it heals. This said, patients should remember that though scaling and planing can make the mouth sore for a few days, the treatment can stop the progression of gum disease if it is not yet too far advanced. This means far less pain and discomfort down the road.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated “47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.” That’s a lot of people with gum disease! Yet unfortunately, for many of those cases, gum disease could have been prevented with a good oral hygiene routine at home and trips to the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and oral examination.
Be sure to take time twice a day to brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time. Floss between all of your teeth at least once a day, preferably at the end of the day before bed. And, be sure to rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash after flossing to help rinse away loosened food particles and bacteria.
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, it is imperative that you not only heed all instructions provided to you by your dentist but that you are also extra careful and mindful with your daily oral care routine. If you haven’t been to the dentist for a while and you have puffy or red gums or your mouth bleeds after you brush your teeth, now is the time to make an appointment with your family dentist in Chico, CA. A quick consultation can help determine if you have gingivitis or if you are at risk for the more severe form of gum disease, periodontitis.