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The condition of your gums has a significant impact on the health of your teeth — and how long you will have them. The trusted Chicago dentists of Contos Smile Center recommend deep cleaning to eliminate plaque below the gum line, which will dramatically improve the health of your gums and brighten the future of your smile.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Excess plaque buildup under the gum line causes gingivitis. With this condition, gum pockets increase in volume, eventually separating the gum from the bone and creating a haven for bacteria. The bacteria eat away at the root and the bone which secures it. At some point, you may lose the affected tooth as it becomes unmoored from your jaw.
Recent studies indicate that gum disease may affect your overall health, as well. Bacteria that thrive below the gum line can migrate to other areas of the body, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and even gastrointestinal problems.
Progression of Periodontal Disease
With gum disease, time is of the essence. The progression is slow but predictable. Treated in its early stages, the process can be reversed and a healthy gum line can be restored. When continual plaque buildup deepens gum pockets and begins to damage bone and teeth, more serious periodontal interventions will be necessary, such as flap surgery or grafts of bone or soft tissue to rebuild the bone and strengthen the root.
As serious as periodontal disease can be, most adults don’t think much about the health of their gums. People tend to associate oral health with exams, routine cleanings, fillings, crowns and root canals. Even dentures, the possible end result of periodontal disease, typically generate more curiosity than the health and integrity of the gum line.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Your experienced Contos Smile Center dentist knows how important it is to watch for the warning signs, and you should be alert to them too. Symptoms of gum disease may be subtle at first. As gingivitis progresses to the more serious phase known as periodontitis, you may begin to experience inflamed gums that seem to bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing. Healthy pink gums now seem red. As gaps appear between the tooth and gum tissue, the gums begin to recede. You may experience pain and sensitivity with your teeth, and even feel that one or more teeth is less securely anchored in your mouth. You may also develop recurring bad breath.
Treatment Details for Gum Disease
One of the most effective periodontal weapons in a dentist’s arsenal is a technique known as scaling and root planing. This proven method allows your dentist to reverse the damage caused by periodontitis by cleaning out the gum pockets and injecting an antibiotic solution to suppress future bacterial growth.
Plaque trapped in the pockets around your teeth cannot be eliminated by regular brushing and flossing. In general, any gum pocket deeper than 3 millimeters is a warning sign that you are developing periodontal disease and that scaling and root planing is needed. When gums redden and begin to bleed, or other symptoms noted above become chronic, significant damage to structures below the gum line has already begun to occur.
Scaling and root planing usually requires several visits, as one or two mouth quadrants are meticulously cleaned during an appointment. You will receive a local anesthetic, and, depending on your preference, perhaps an insert that will comfortably keep your mouth open during the procedure.
The scaling aspect of the technique involves removing hardened plaque, known as tartar, that has formed around the root and may have already compromised the stability of the root-bone connection. Root planing is a process by which the surface of the root is made smoother, which makes it easier for your gums to reattach to the teeth.
Arestin Maximizes Results
Scaling and root planing will make a dramatic difference in the integrity of your gums, shrinking inflamed pockets and improving your overall oral health. When an oral medication known as Arestin is used in conjunction with the procedure, the results are even more impressive. It is similar to PerioChip, which is also sometimes used at Contos Smile Center.
Arestin allows your dentist to apply an antibiotic directly to the source of your periodontal disease — each individual gum pocket. Unlike antibiotics that are taken with a glass of water, this concentrated antibiotic variety, minocycline, is contained in tiny microspheres that are placed by your dentist below the gum line at the end of the scaling and root planing process. The microspheres are suspended in a bioresorbable gel, and are engineered to gradually release the antibiotic in the gum pocket over a period of two weeks.
Arestin has the additional advantage of being able to reach deep into the base of a gum pocket, where deep cleaning is sometimes not possible. Insertion of Arestin in the gum pocket requires about a minute per tooth, and no sutures. Once the antibiotic in the microsphere is absorbed, Arestin leaves no trace.
With this precisely targeted antibiotic, gum pockets in excess of 3 mm have been observed to lose more volume and heal faster than with a scaling and root planing procedure that does not include Arestin. This is according to a recent clinical study that measured gum line improvement among periodontal patients 90 days after a deep cleaning. For patients 50 years of age and older, there was a 33 percent greater reduction in the size of gum pockets compared with a control group. Smokers recorded a 29 percent greater reduction, and for patients with cardiovascular disease the result was a dramatic 58 percent increase in pocket depth improvement.
For more information on scaling and root planing and periodontal health, or to schedule an appointment in our Chicago office, call (773) 973-0531 or email Contos Smile Center today.
We are dedicated to providing the highest level of service and quality to our patient community by cultivating strong relationships, communicating thoughtful treatment solutions, and providing an enjoyable atmosphere, we can empower our patients to take ownership of their oral health.
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