It has been suggested that a majority of American adults will, at some point in their lives, encounter gum disease. In many cases, this encounter will be easy to reverse and short-lived, but in others, special treatments may be needed to address the problem. Scaling and root planing are one of these methods.

During the scaling portion of this treatment, deep cleaning of the teeth – all the way to the root – will be used to remove calculus, tartar, and debris. Depending on the extent of build-up, this may take some time, but it is necessary for the root planing portion.

During root planing, the roots of the teeth are smoothed. This allows gum tissue that has been separated from tooth enamel through pockets of infection to secure back to the teeth. Slightly more invasive than the scaling portion of treatment, root planing may require localized anesthetic. If you are nervous about your gum disease treatment, Dr. Tenney will be happy to discuss sedation dentistry options that can be used to ease your anxiety.

Do I Have Gum Disease?

Are your gums red and/or swollen? Do your gums bleed easily when brushed? Do they bleed when eating crunchy food? These are the beginning indications of gum disease and, if not addressed right away, they can easily give way to more worrisome symptoms such as:

  • Pus in between the teeth
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Chronic halitosis
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone necrosis

Equally worrisome, once gum disease has progressed to the point of tooth loss, it is highly possible that the bacteria from the infected gums has made its way into the larger body systems where they have been shown to increase risks for:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver and kidney failure
  • Breast cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer of the head and neck
  • Alzheimer’s

While some of these links are still preliminary, it has long been known that gum disease is a risk factor for systemic illness and premature death.

Treating Gum Disease

While scaling and root planing may become necessary to treat gum disease, improving your daily care can reverse it in its initial stages and will be essential for its prevention. Proper daily care includes:

  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth when you wake, before you go to bed, and after every meal and snack
  • Flossing before you brush both morning and night
  • Using an antimicrobial/antibacterial mouthwash*

*A word of caution about mouthwash: there is some evidence suggesting mouthwash with alcohol increases risks for oral cancer. This same ingredient in mouthwash can also damage certain types of dental bonding and restorations. If you are selecting a mouthwash to add to your daily routine, be sure to discuss your options with Dr. Tenney to make sure you are choosing the best option for your needs.

Adding routine visits to our Glendale office for cleanings and examinations is important for your general oral health as well. These visits should take place every six months, enabling us to help prevent calculus and tartar from building up underneath your gum line.

If it has been longer than six months since your last dental visit or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, please call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule an appointment today. Located in Glendale, we welcome patients from Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, and Mesa.

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