Periodontal therapy

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically-susceptible individuals. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums.  They may cause them to turn red, swell, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal disease progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. However, don’t be fooled. With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness, and swelling do not have to be present. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, gum, and jawbone of more than 80 percent of Americans by age 45.

Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and Periodontal Diseases is by daily thorough tooth brushing and flossing techniques and regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of gum disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.

Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatments

The initial stage of treatment is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling to remove plaque and tartar deposits beneath the gum line.

The tooth roots may also be planed to smooth the root surface allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. In some cases, the occlusion (bite) may require adjustment.

Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbial (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, Dr. Crowther may recommend the use of a laser to remove diseased tissue in the gum pocket, eliminate bacteria and stimulate healing cells.

When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Dr. Crowther to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.

Surgical Periodontal Treatments

Traditionally osseous surgery was a procedure that eliminated gum pockets by trimming away the infected gum tissue and diseased bone. Although this is very affective, modern techniques have improved the procedure to minimize the negative side effects while maintaining the desire outcome. Today, the gum tissue is pushed back from the tooth, allowing access to the diseased root surface and supporting bone. Once the area has been cleaned and treated the gum is replaced to allow healing. Osseous surgery is the most affective and predictable way to treat gum disease. It creates a healthy environment that promotes long term maintenance and prevents recurrent disease.

Brushing and Flossing

While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.

When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. To do this use short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to call the office.

Effective Dental Flossing

Flossing is necessary because the in between areas of the teeth are inaccessible to the tooth brush. Patients with advanced periodontal disease may also need to use specialized brushes called “proxy brushes” to access these difficult areas. To floss properly, cut off a piece of floss about 3 feet long. Lightly wrap the ends of the floss around your middle finger. To clean between the upper right back teeth pass the floss over your right thumb and the forefinger of your left hand. The thumb is to the outside of the teeth, and helps hold the cheek back. To clean between the upper left teeth pass the floss over your left thumb and the forefinger of your right hand. Now the left thumb is outside the teeth and the right forefinger is on the inside. To clean between all lower teeth hold the floss with the forefingers of both hands. You will be able to insert the floss gently between all lower teeth with the floss over your forefingers in this position.

Flossing tips

  • The fingers controlling the floss should not be more than one-half inch apart.
  • Do not force the floss between the teeth. Insert it gently by sawing it back and forth at the point where the teeth contact each other. Let it slide gently into place.
  • With both fingers move the floss up and down six times on the side of one tooth, and then repeat on the side of the other tooth until the surfaces are “squeaky” clean.
  • Go to the gum tissue with the floss, but not into the gum so as to cause discomfort.
  • When the floss becomes frayed or soiled, a turn from one middle finger to the other brings up a fresh section.
  • At first flossing may be awkward and slow, but continued practice will increase skill and effectiveness.