Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria that builds up along the gum line, irritating the gum tissue, so it pulls away from the tooth surface. As the gums recede, these bacteria are able to reach deeper layers of the gums, eventually making their way to the root pocket where they can make teeth loose and eventually cause tooth loss. The bacteria that cause gum disease are found in sticky plaque and hardened tartar or calculus.
In its earliest stages (called gingivitis), gum disease may be treated with several successive cleanings to help remove plaque and prevent it from building up again. During your cleaning appointments, the hygienist will review your brushing and flossing techniques and give you tips on how to improve those techniques so you can keep your gums and teeth healthy between cleanings. In more advanced stages of disease (called periodontitis), deep-cleaning techniques called scaling and root planing are used to reach below the gum line, removing hard-to-reach bacteria including bacteria in the root pocket. Root planing uses special techniques to remove bacteria gently from the root surface, smoothing the sides of the root, so they're resistant to buildup of bacteria in the future. Antibiotics may also be used to help kill bacteria that may escape detection during deep cleaning.
Periodontal disease may be prevented by visiting our office every six months for routine cleanings and checkups. This will allow the removal of any plaque that's built up and also to look for and treat early gum disease. You can also decrease your chances of developing gum disease by brushing and flossing on a regular basis using the right techniques to remove plaque. Avoiding sticky, sugary snacks is also important since sugar helps to promote the growth of gum disease-causing bacteria.
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