What is Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease


Teeth Cleaning; Periodontal Scaling, Root Planing and Plaque Removal (Gum Treatment)

Periodontal or Gum disease is an acute or chronic infectious process affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. This includes the gums and the fibrous attachments which buttress the teeth and supporting bone.

Unchecked, periodontal disease can result in bone loss and eventual loosening and loss of the teeth.

Periodontal Disease is often associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and new associations are being discovered.

  • usually a slow, painless and progressive process.
  • most adults with periodontal disease are unaware they have it.
  • diagnosed and treated early, then the teeth can be saved.

The primary cause of periodontal disease is the accumulation of bacterial plaque at and under the gum line.


– is a sticky, colorless mass of bacteria and food debris that sticks to teeth, crowns, bridges and other tissues in the oral cavity.

– is constantly forming on the teeth and must be removed regularly to maintain dental and periodontal health.

– bacterial plaque builds up within 48 hours in our mouth if not removed effectively.

Inadequate oral hygiene results in irritation of the gums, causing them to become red, tender and swollen.

Calculus (tartar)

– starts within 7-10 days, plaque combines with natural minerals in the mouth forming calculus (tartar).

– adhere to the teeth and form a rough surface on the teeth and roots, allowing for even more plaque accumulation.

Calculus of itself does not cause the deterioration of the periodontal attachment. Rather, it serves as a substrate for the further colonization of bacterial plaque on the irregular root surfaces.

* Bacteria initiate and perpetuate the inflammatory process that causes periodontal disease (non-reversible bone loss).


– clinical exam including a periodontal charting, X-rays and patient education

debridement; scaling & root planing (a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins) Using hand instruments and also ultrasonic vibrating instruments to blast the deposits off the teeth.

These procedure serves to remove the calcified irritants under the gums, to reduce inflammation and infection.

* Smooth root surfaces allow the gums to regenerate they then shrink and tighten around the teeth because the irritant has been reduced or eliminated.


– dramatic reduction in bleeding of the gums after several days or weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.

Re-charting of pocket depth is done to determine the status of the periodontal structures.

Ultimate goal is a shallow valley around the teeth with a depth of 1 to 3 mm, that can be cleansed with good hygiene techniques.

Side Effects & Treatment 

– sensitivity to hot and cold, due to exposed roots after the gum shrinks.

– conscientious oral hygiene, use of a desensitizing toothpaste, and “tincture of time” usually minimizes the sensitivity.

Most effective is to treat periodontal disease early, with a non-surgical approach; scaling and root planing resulting in the only treatment that will needed.

* Ongoing process of good dental hygiene and regular professional care is pinnacle to the maintenance of good oral health. Cooperative partnership between you the patient and your dental hygienist is the key. Alone, neither can accomplish this goal.

In some advanced cases, pocket depths of greater than 5 or 6 mm,  depending on the re-evaluation of the periodontal tissues may require more frequent professional debridement by your dental hygienist to reduce or maintain pockets or a referral to a periodontist where surgical re-contouring of the gums — may be required to establish an environment which can be maintained with brushing, flossing and other cleansing aids.

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