At Thousand Oaks Smile Design, we look at the whole picture when it comes to your oral hygiene. Your teeth are important for a strong, beautiful, healthy smile. But don't overlook your gums.
Healthy gums are the foundation of a healthy smile - that's why we take our periodontal therapy seriously.
Periodontal Disease (Periodontitis)
As the leading cause of tooth loss for American adults, periodontal disease (or gum disease) is no small matter. According to statistics, 80% of all adults over 35 years of age have some form of gum disease.
Left untreated, Periodontitis increases your risk for tooth loss. There is also evidence that the bacteria that builds up in the pockets of your gums can enter the bloodstream and affect the lungs, heart, and other organs. There is some evidence periodontitis is linked to rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, and coronary artery disease.
Research has also shown that pregnant women with periodontitis tend to give birth prematurely more often and their babies are born with low birth weights. This could be due to the bacteria in the mother’s mount transferring to the baby during the third trimester.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, are inflammatory conditions marked by red, swollen, painful gums, tooth loss, bad breath, and occasionally oral bleeding. Often, these symptoms are first discovered while brushing one’s teeth or using dental floss.
A common misconception about periodontal disease is that it must be painful. While many cases of gum disease are indeed painful, a good deal of them involves little to no pain at all. These “benign” cases of gum disease are often the most serious, as patients can go a long time before they realize they need to seek medical treatment.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is caused by infection from the build up of plaque and tartar in your mouth. When plaque (the filmy fuzzy covering on your teeth) isn't removed, it hardens and becomes tartar. This tartar has to be removed at your hygiene visits. If it is not removed, the bacteria can continue to grow and irritate your gums and surrounding bone and tissue. When inflammation continues to destroyed this tissue, pockets form around the teeth. As the disease progresses, the pockets get deeper giving the bacteria a bigger home.
Red and Swollen Gums
Treatment Options for Periodontal Therapy
Proper restorative care of teeth cannot be performed on diseased gums, so we must restore your gum health before beginning our dental work. Our office offers several periodontal therapy services, so you can keep your gums healthy.
Your gum disease treatment will depend on several factors, including your personal health history and the stage of your gum disease.
These services include:
In the very early stages - when it is gingivitis - you may just need a professional cleaning from our qualified dental team. We can also give you some great advice and tips on how you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Scaling and Root Planing - Also know as a "deep cleaning"
This is a conservative treatment we use to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums. This clears away the bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection in the gum tissue and surrounding bone structures.
Our dentists may recommend certain medicines to help control infection and discomfort or to aid healing. You may be given a mouthrinse or they may place medication directly into the periodontal pocket after the treatment.
Non - Surgical Arestin Therapy - Arestin is a concentrated, locally administered antibiotic.
It is applied directly into the infected gum pockets between your teeth and is especially effective when used after a scaling and root planing therapy. The antibiotic remains active in the pocket for an extended period of time and continuously releases itself to target recurring bacteria to reduce pocket depth and infection.
Sometimes, scaling and root planing isn't enough treatment on its own. If pockets do not heal enough after scaling and root planing, gum surgery may be needed.
Surgery allows our dentists to remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach areas. Afterwards, your gums will be stitched into place to tightly hug your teeth. Surgery can also help to shrink pocket depth and make it easier for you to keep your teeth clean.
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy after treatment
Periodic periodontal cleanings
Once your gum disease is under control, it is very important for you to get dental care by coming to our office on a consistent basis. The periodic cleanings recommended after these treatments are called periodontal maintenance care. These cleanings are more extensive than the standard cleaning and will help you keep your gums healthy. Your periodontal maintenance involves cleanings that are deeper than a normal cleaning in our dental office. With periodic maintenance, the amount of plaque bacteria is lowered. Then, the inflammation can get better, pockets can shrink and your gums can become healthier.
Your gum disease won’t go away on its own
Once your gum disease is brought under control, it is very important that you get dental care on a periodic basis. You have a better chance of keeping your teeth if you do. Your gum disease may get worse if you don't!
Plan for more visits to the dentist
You will need to see our dentists more often than other people. The pockets and other issues from your gum disease will make it harder for you to clean plaque from your teeth.
They will talk to you about a treatment plan that works best for you, and will recommend a maintenance care schedule that is based on your personal case. Over time, fewer appointments may be necessary. Once your gums are healthy, our dentists will determine a maintenance schedule based on your clinical evaluations.
Keep up your oral care at home
It is very important that you brush and floss every day - especially if you are healing from gum disease.
Brush two times every day for two minutes each time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that helps keep teeth strong.
Clean between your teeth every day to remove plaque and bits of food from in between your teeth. If your gums have pulled away from your teeth, it may be best to use special tiny brushes, picks or wider types of floss and picks to clean between your teeth.
Our dentists may also recommend regularly using a specific mouthrinse.
Look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on all of your dental care products. The ADA Seal means these products have met ADA standards for safety and effectiveness.