Periodontal disease treatments like scaling and root planing improve oral health of Los Angeles residents
Your gums may be trying to tell you something. If you’re smart, you’ll listen.
Gum disease is one of the most common, yet overlooked, dental dangers that Americans face. Left unattended, it may develop into a serious condition called periodontitis. Severe gum disease not only affects your dental health. In addition to contributing to tooth loss, periodontitis has been linked to illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
A variety of effective periodontal disease treatments are available right here in Los Angeles from Dr. Don Mungcal and his highly trained staff at Downtown Dental. One of them is scaling and root planing.
Here’s why you may need scaling and root planing
When you eat, you’re at risk for gum disease. Leftover food particles combine with saliva to form a soft, sticky film on your teeth. This is called plaque, and it can harbor millions of bacteria. If you’re diligent about brushing and flossing, and if you make appointments for regular dental cleanings to remove the plaque that a toothbrush can’t budge, you may stave off the tooth decay and gum disease plaque can cause.
But if you don’t make oral hygiene a priority, the bacteria in plaque can inflame your gums. Your gums may begin sending you subtle messages that you need to pay more attention to them. They may become red and swollen, or bleed when you brush your teeth. These are symptoms of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. If caught in the early stages, gingivitis can usually be reversed. If ignored, it can progress to moderate periodontitis, a condition in which the inflammation causes the gum to pull away from the teeth and create a pocket that becomes an even bigger breeding ground for bacteria. Advanced periodontitis affects the roots of your teeth and the bone that holds your teeth in place. This leads to shifting, loosening teeth, and eventually tooth loss.
Once you’ve moved beyond gingivitis, you will need a deeper, more thorough cleaning. Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing and routine dental cleanings can harden into a rough substance called tartar. Tartar adheres to the enamel of your teeth and invades the area below the gum line. Toxins released by tartar break down the fibers of the gum that hold your teeth firmly in place, creating the pockets mentioned earlier. The damage from the proliferation of bacteria is what leads to tooth loss.
At this point, your dentist may suggest a deeper dental cleaning, known as scaling and root planing.
A heavy-duty plaque attack
Think of scaling and root planing as a regular dental cleaning on steroids. The treatment is considered a first-line tactic for controlling periodontitis.
Here’s what to expect before, during, and after the procedure:
- A hygienist or periodontist will evaluate your plaque build-up.
- Using an instrument called a periodontal probe, he or she will measure the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. A normal depth is 3 millimeters or less. If yours is greater than that, you’re likely going to need deep cleaning.
- Numbing gel or an anesthetic injection will be given to you to prevent possible discomfort during the procedure.
- Using an instrument called a small scaler, an ultrasonic cleaner, or both, the tartar will be thoroughly removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket.
- Next, the root surfaces are planed, or smoothed out, so that plaque is less likely to stick to them.
- Antibiotics and other medications may be administered directly into the pockets to help control infection and pain and promote healing.
- If your tartar build-up is severe, you may be scheduled for two appointments.
- Expect to experience some bleeding for the first few days after scaling.
- Be sure to keep regular follow-up visits to be certain the depth of the pockets is back to normal.
- Make a solid commitment to caring for your teeth at home. Ask Dr. Mungcal for pointers on brushing and flossing techniques and talk to him about the Perio Protect Method® you can use at home to help prevent gum disease.
If you think your gums are trying to tell you something, don’t want until they’re screaming. Call Dr. Don Mungcal today at Downtown Dental, 213-863-9464, and request a regular checkup and gum evaluation