Periodontal disease is caused by sheets of bacteria, called a biofilm, that form on the roots of our teeth below the gum line. This results in a gum-level infection called gingivitis. Gingivitis can often be treated by a thorough cleaning by your dental hygienist combined with daily home care to eliminate these films of bacteria before they become established and create inflammation and infection.
If the infection invades the bone, however, the situation becomes more complicated. Called periodontitis, this bone-level infection, if untreated, can lead to the loss of gum, bone and teeth. Periodontitis, which 47% of adults over the age of 30 have, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. In its early stages a bone-level infection may be eliminated with a procedure called scaling and root planing, combined with good daily home care. Scaling and root planing, usually done with local anesthesia for patient comfort, removes the bacterial film and calculus (tartar) from the roots of the teeth. Thoroughly removing this debris and then preventing its return with good, daily home care, allows the gums to heal.
In our office we use a material called Oraqix, a strong local anesthetic gel, to numb the gums for scaling and root planing. It is squirted between the gum and tooth (no shots needed) and provides good anesthesia for about 30 minutes. This allows us to complete the procedure with you in complete comfort. By the time you leave, however, the numbness is usually gone, allowing you to eat and function normally.
Typically we wait 6 weeks to assess the results of scaling and root planing. During that time we provide whatever support and coaching is needed to insure that you can clean well at home. If the infection is gone and the pockets are normal at 6 weeks then we will simply work with you and your dentist to keep you healthy and free from becoming reinfected. If there are still areas of infection in the gums and bone we will discuss the next steps needed to make you free of infection and to restore good oral health.
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