Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease
When you think about dentistry and dental care, teeth are probably the first thing that come to mind.
After all, “dental” means “relating to teeth.”
However, gum health (periodontal care) is an important part of overall oral health.
Your gums, jawbone, and connective tissues are responsible for holding your teeth securely in place. Unhealthy gums lead to gum disease, which causes loose teeth and tooth loss.
Our dental hygiene team is trained, experienced, and prepared to administer excellent periodontal care in our Alexandria, MN dental office.
About Gum Disease
Research shows that nearly half of all Americans suffer some level of gum disease, also called periodontal disease.
The early phase is called gingivitis, and it usually presents with mild symptoms, if any. Patients may notice gum tenderness, swelling, redness or other discoloration.
Some experience bleeding when brushing and flossing, and others develop bad breath or pus at the gum line. Gum disease is a progressive condition with no known cure.
If we can find and treat gingivitis, however, we can keep the disease from escalating to periodontitis. Untreated gum disease ultimately results in tooth loss, as well as necrosis (death) of gum and bone tissues.
Increasingly, scientists are learning about links between periodontal disease and systemic health conditions.
We now know that gum disease can increase a person’s risk for having a low-weight or premature birth, diabetes complications, heart disease, respiratory complications, cognitive disorders, and osteoporosis.
Periodontal disease is also the main cause of tooth loss for adults in our nation.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor oral hygiene are the leading causes for developing gum disease, though anyone is susceptible.
Regular Dental Cleanings
At six month intervals, you need to attend a comprehensive dental checkup and professional cleaning.
Dr. Haack performs checkups, and a hygienist will manage your periodontal care. He’ll administer a thorough cleaning to remove plaque, calculus, and food debris from on and between your teeth.
In addition, he may suggest that you alter your brushing and flossing techniques or the products you use. If you experience gum tenderness, a sore that does not heal in 14 days, or bad breath, let the hygienist know so that he can address the issue with you.
The hygienist will probe the gums at the base of your teeth to detect the presence of periodontal pockets, which are areas where bacteria has eroded the connective tissues that hold teeth steady and stable.
In these pockets, bacteria breed rapidly. Early detection and treatment can resolve some cases of gingivitis, but a deep cleaning may be advised.
The hygienist will determine whether treatment is effective by periodically measuring periodontal pocket depth. A reduction in depth indicates favorable results.
Once you are diagnosed with gum disease, you’ll be more likely to have recurring episodes, so the hygienist may advise a more frequent cleaning schedule.
He might also recommend that you use special homecare products to control oral bacteria.
Deep Dental Cleanings
If you are informed that you need a deep cleaning, expect to attend a few hygiene appointments. The procedure will begin by administering anesthetic to ensure your comfort.
Then, the hygienist will scale your teeth to eliminate plaque and calculus that have build up below your gum line.
Scaling will be followed by root planing, a procedure that eliminates bumps and ledges from teeth roots, to remove places where bacteria can accumulate.
Scaling and root planing will be performed on all quadrants of your mouth, perhaps over multiple appointments. You may also be given a topical antibiotic to fight bacterial infection.
By removing bacteria from teeth roots, we’ll create a healthy environment for periodontal tissue to reattach to teeth, which will re-establish stability.
Advanced Periodontal Treatments
If your gum disease has advanced beyond what a deep dental cleaning can treat, Dr. Haack or the hygienist will refer you to a local periodontist.
As a specialist in conditions involving the supporting structures of teeth, a periodontist can offer surgical treatment, if necessary, and help you restore good oral health, to support good overall health.
Schedule Your Dental Cleaning Today!
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, suspect that you have gum disease, or would like to take measures to prevent the condition in your life, call the dental office of Joseph M. Haack, DDS, today to reserve a checkup and periodontal evaluation.
We can be reached at 320-763-7484, and our office is located in Alexandria, MN.