The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate half adult Americans over 30 have periodontal or advanced gum disease. Typified by red, swollen, bleeding gums, periodontitis leads to bone recession and tooth loss and to systemic problems such as diabetes, heart attack, asthma, arthritis, dementia and more.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease stems from several issues, including heredity, suppressed immune systems and inadequate dental hygiene. When at-home brushing, flossing and professional cleanings with your Mt. Holly dentist are neglected, sticky, bacteria-filled plaque forms on teeth and below the gum line.
Left untreated, the plaque quickly turns into hard tartar, or calculus, creating infected pockets. Pockets deeper than 5 mm indicate periodontitis and require dental attention from Dr. H. William Greenberg before jawbone recedes and teeth are lost.
Besides heredity, hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause contribute to gum disease. Women must be diligent about dental check-ups during these important seasons of life. Additionally, some conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, which suppress the immune system, promote gum problems as do medications such as antidepressants and oral contraceptives.
Another common culprit is tobacco. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research points to cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco as toxic to gums and other soft tissues of the mouth. Smoking steals oxygen and nutrients, setting the stage for infection and decay. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation says heat from cigarette smoke burns the top layer of delicate oral mucosa. Combine tobacco with other risk factors, and periodontitis results.
What can your Mt. Holly dentist do?
Drs. Greenberg, Ko-Kim, Cygler and Govitrikar at Mount Holly Family Dentistry are passionate about preventive dental treatments. Each 6-month exam includes periodontal probing, a painless measure of the spaces, or pockets, between gums and tooth surfaces. Pockets measuring 5 mm or greater indicate gum infection and require deeper cleaning.
Routine vs. deep cleaning
A routine dental cleaning involves gentle scraping of interdental spaces and areas below the gumline. The hygienist uses manual instruments to remove plaque and tartar. She rinses the areas and flosses the teeth, too. After completing the cleaning, she polishes the teeth with a special toothpaste, leaving them shiny and feeling super-clean.
A deep cleaning is more involved. Depending on the extent of gum disease, the hygienist may divide the mouth into quadrants and do only 1 or 2 quadrants per periodontal appointment. She uses manual and ultrasonic instruments to get to plaque and tartar and to smooth root surfaces so gums re-attach. This part of the procedure is called root planing.
She carefully rinses each section and frequently instills antimicrobial medication in the gum pockets to clear infection and speed healing. Patients undergoing deep cleaning and root planing come to Mt. Holly Family Dentistry more frequently than every 6 months, depending on need.
Do you need a deep cleaning?
Your dentists in Mt. Holly desire great oral health for all their patients. They stress excellent preventive care to keep teeth and gums vibrant and long lasting. Please contact Mt. Holly Family Dentistry for your convenient exam and cleaning.