Plaque, which is composed of acid-producing bacteria, saliva, and food debris, is building up on your teeth all day, every day. Ideally, you are removing this plaque through frequent brushing and flossing, and it poses no serious risk to your health. However, if plaque is allowed to build up on the tooth surface and at the gumline, it eventually hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. This plaque and tartar buildup can lead to tooth decay, and these substances are also the primary cause of gum disease.
Tartar irritates the gums, and if it isn’t removed quickly, it will cause chronic inflammation of oral tissues. This is the first stage of gum disease: gingivitis. If you are suffering from gingivitis, you may notice that your gums are swollen and/or bleeding. Eventually, if tartar remains at the gumline, it will create space between the teeth and gums, called periodontal pockets. Debris will fill these pockets, worsening the condition exponentially.
Without treatment at this stage, gingivitis will eventually lead to periodontitis. If you are suffering from this advanced form of gum disease, you may suffer with pain, increased sensitivity, halitosis, and you may notice that your gums are receding. This is, again, due to chronic inflammation. When left untreated, the inflammation will break down both gum and bone tissue. Once you begin to lose the supporting structure, your teeth will become loose and, eventually, you will lose them completely.
The Benefits of Periodontal Therapy
Dr. Jessica Johnson and her team are trained to perform deep periodontal cleanings, which remove tartar buildup above and below the gumline. Also referred to as scaling and debridement, a member of our team will remove visible tartar buildup, as well as the tartar and debris inside of periodontal pockets. Once this is complete, we will then perform root scaling, which polishes the actual root of the tooth, often halting the progression of disease and the accompanying inflammation. With the teeth and roots polished and clean, the gums will re-adhere to the teeth, eliminating the periodontal pockets. With continued good oral hygiene practices, you should be able to keep gum disease at bay in the future.
However, if your condition is more serious, or a deep cleaning is not sufficient to remedy the problem, topical antibiotic treatments may be used. You may also require more frequent exams and cleanings, approximately every three months (depending on the severity of your condition). Your West Des Moines dentist will give you a detailed treatment plan at your first appointment, if you are suffering from gum disease.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jessica Johnson at Valley Ridge Family Dental, contact our office at (515) 223-9764. We serve West Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, and the surrounding communities.