Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, tends to fly under the radar because your focus is usually on your teeth and keeping them white and cavity-free. But even if you practice good oral health habits, you may end up developing the gum disease gingivitis, which can lead to a dangerous infection called periodontitis.
Once your gums are infected, simple brushing, flossing, and twice-yearly dental cleanings aren’t enough to make them healthy again. If Sheida Mohammadizadeh, DDS, expert dentist at Orangecrest Family Dental Practice in Riverside, California, notices signs of periodontitis when you come in for a consultation or treatment, she recommends a deep dental cleaning.
Signs that you have periodontitis include:
You’re more at risk for periodontitis if you have health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes or HIV infection. Nutritional deficiencies and hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and menopause also increase your chances for developing periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a serious infection that risks the loss of your teeth and even your life. If you don’t treat periodontitis with a deep cleaning procedure, the infection eventually destroys the gums and bone that support your teeth. Infection in your gums can spread through your bloodstream to your organs, too, causing a life-threatening infection called sepsis and increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke.
A regular dental cleaning removes bacteria-rich plaque from your teeth, between your teeth, and under your gumline. Your dentist also scrapes off oxidized, hardened plaque — otherwise known as tartar — using special tools to remove the irritating and unsightly yellow-brown crust.
Although regular professional dental cleanings are essential to maintaining good oral health, they aren’t enough if you have periodontitis. A deep dental cleaning includes two specialized procedures: scaling and planing. You receive local anesthetics to control discomfort, and you may need more than one appointment to complete your scaling and planing.
While scaling, Dr. Mohammadizadeh reaches far under your gumline to remove plaque and tartar that’s irritating and infecting your gums. She then smooths and reshapes your roots with a planing procedure so that your clean, disinfected gums can grow back tightly against your teeth, holding them in place.
Dr. Mohammadizadeh may use a combination of specialized scaling and planing tools and a state-of-the-art laser to perform your deep cleaning. Laser treatment has the benefit of killing more oral bacteria and stimulating your gums to remodel themselves with new collagen.
Your mouth may be sore and swollen after your deep cleaning. However, you should be able to control the discomfort by applying a wrapped ice pack to the area for about 20 minutes at a time and by gargling several times a day with warm salt water. You can also take Tylenol or another over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.
Once your gums heal, it’s more important than ever to keep your teeth and gums clean with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. Dr. Mohammadizadeh may also recommend that you come in for regular professional cleanings every four months, instead of every six months.
If you think you have gingivitis or already have the painful, inflamed gums of periodontitis, call us today to schedule a deep cleaning consultation, or book your appointment online.