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Price, UT 84501
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Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place. They often are painless and you may not be aware that you have a problem until your gums and the supporting bone are seriously damaged. The good news is that periodontal diseases often can be treated in the early stages with scaling and root planing.

At the edge of the gum line, healthy gum tissue forms a very shallow, V-shaped groove (called the sulcus) between the tooth and gums. The normal sulcus depth should be three millimeters or less. With periodontal diseases, the sulcus develops into a deeper pocket that collects more plaque and bacteria and is difficult to keep clean. That is one reason why regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important.

Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

During a check-up, the dentist examines your gums for periodontal problems. An instrument called a periodontal probe is used to gently measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention includes a good daily oral hygiene routine. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner help prevent plaque from forming. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important.

Scaling and root planning is a method of treating periodontal disease when pockets are greater than 3mm. Scaling is used to remove plaque and tarter beneath the gum line. A local anesthetic may be given to reduce any discomfort. Using an instrument called a small scaler, or an ultrasonic cleaner, the dentist carefully removes plaque and tarter down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth's root surfaces become smoother, or planed. It also makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces.

Your dentist may recommend, prescribe and administer medications to help control infection and pain or to facilitate healing. At a follow-up appointment, generally every four months, the dentist checks how the gums have healed and how the periodontal pockets have decreased. When the pockets greater than 3mm persist after treatment, additional measures may be needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene and continued follow-ups by your dentist are essential to help prevent periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.

Some factors increase risk of developing periodontal disease:

Several warning signs that can signal a problem: