Gum Disease Prevention
Preventing dental problems like gum disease starts at home with good oral hygiene practices and a well-balanced diet. It is continued at Periodontal Associates with the help of our Aurora and Littleton gum disease prevention experts that encourage, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention care must also include regular dental exams, cleanings, and X-rays . There are also Sealants and fluoride that are great tools in preventive care that will help protect the teeth.
Did You Know?
It only takes 24 hours for plaque to harden into calculus (tartar) if it isn’t removed from your teeth with adequate brushing and flossing. Daily home cleaning helps control plaque formation, but cannot remove calculus. At Periodontal Associates, we rely on our dental hygiene cleanings to chip away the calculus several times per year.
Plaque and Tartar Formation
Everyone has bacteria in their mouth and there isn’t anything that can be done to eliminate them. Bacteria are an important part of the entire gastrointestinal system and help with digestion and the immune system. Bacteria produce a sticky film that helps them attach to teeth and this is called plaque. If plaque is not removed with brushing or flossing, then it can harden into calculus. It is hardened by minerals in patients’ saliva and some people have more minerals than others, which can explain individual differences in calculus formation. Calculus also forms quicker in areas near a saliva gland duct, which include the tongue-side of the lower front teeth and cheek-side of the upper back molars. Calculus acts like a house where bacteria can continue to grow but cannot be removed with brushing or flossing and the immune system cannot attack the bacteria. Calculus needs to be removed with dental instruments that break it apart and smooth the tooth surface to slow the re-growth of new plaque and calculus. This is normally accomplished during dental hygiene visits with your dental hygienist. If this bacteria is not removed regularly, then the bacterial infection will release toxins that cause the supporting bone and gums to be broken-down.
Why Do I Need to Go More Often for Cleanings?
Some patients are at higher risk for gum disease than others and thus need more exams and cleanings each year. As described above, some people have more minerals in their saliva, which can account for increased calculus formation. This by itself doesn’t necessarily mean that patients need more cleanings but it means that bacteria cannot be removed as readily as the general population.
The main reason for increased number of dental cleanings per year is because patients respond differently to this bacterial infection. There were studies done on untreated dental populations and ~20% had an increased risk of periodontal breakdown compared to their counterparts. Most people only need dental cleanings every 6 months (twice per year) to remove the calculus and prevent the supporting bone loss and recession. Those that are at higher risk for breakdown will typically need alternating cleanings and exams between their general dentist and periodontist every 3 months (four per year). The Aurora and Littleton gum disease prevention experts at Periodontal Associates compare this to patients who had a heart attack, and who see their cardiologist in addition to seeing their general physician. Both do exams but the cardiologist will focus on the health of the heart because this patient shows greater risk of cardiac issues. The goal is to catch problems earlier so there can be less invasive procedures or medications done to slow the disease.
In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs)
Examination of existing restorations
Examination of tooth decay
Oral cancer screening
Oral hygiene recommendations
- Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
- Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
- Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis
- Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
- Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease
- Mouth – Body Connection
- Causes of Periodontal Disease
- Types of Periodontal Disease
A Guide for Periodontal Pockets
A periodontal probe is a ruler we use to measure how deep the fold or pocket between the gums and tooth extend. The deeper the pocket, the less cleanable it is and the more supporting bone has been lost.
1-3mm pockets – These are ideal and can be maintained with good oral hygiene and hygiene visits.
4-5mm pockets – Brushing and flossing cannot normally remove all the plaque or calculus in these pockets and so they may need to be numbed to adequately clean them (this cleaning is referred to as a “deep cleaning”, “root treatment therapy”, or “scaling and root planing”)
5mm pockets – There is usually bone loss or excessive gum tissue associated with these sites. These will typically require a regenerative procedure (laser periodontal therapy or bone grafting) or the gum tissue may need to be reduced for improved access for home care.