Cleaning & Prevention
Prevention and early detection are the key to avoiding tooth decay and gum disease. A good home regimen, in addition to regular cleanings and exams, can prevent many expensive dental treatments. Prevention starts with controlling plaque, a colorless bacteria that sticks to the surface of your teeth, and calculus, a harder mineral deposit. These are the main sources of decay and periodontal disease. By maintaining a proper routine of daily hygiene, you can prevent most oral disease. Our hygienists are available to assist you with your hygiene and management of your gums.
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- Mouth Rinses
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
- Laser Assisted Scaling & Root Planing
Regular dental cleanings, performed by a registered dental hygienist, are a crucial part of preventive dental care. By removing plaque and tartar, your oral health is enhanced and your risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease are reduced. Your dental hygienist will utilize manual instruments to remove moderate plaque and tartar buildup, or an ultrasonic device to scale away heavier buildup. The cleaning is finished with polishing, a pleasant procedure that cleans the surface of teeth, removes stains, and leaves the mouth feeling clean and refreshed.
No matter how diligent you are in your home dental care regimen, you should still get a dental exam and cleaning at least twice per year. The importance of regular dental exams cannot be overemphasized - dental exams are the cornerstone of good dental health. In particular, regular checkups are essential for early detection of more serious problems. Early detection makes treatment easier, less expensive and more successful and effective. During your dental exam, our dentist will perform the following routine checks:
- Examine and assess gum health; check for gum disease
- Diagnose any existing tooth decay
- When indicated, take and analyze x-rays, which may reveal decay, bone loss, abscesses, tumors, cysts, and other problems
- Screen for the presence of oral cancer
- Verify the stability of any existing fillings or other restorations
- Inform you of all findings and make treatment recommendations
As damaging as plaque can be, it is easily removed by mechanical brushing. Plaque deposits build up on the teeth fairly quickly after eating and drinking, and if they are not brushed away at least twice a day, they can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. It takes just one day for bacteria to build up enough to make your mouth susceptible to disease.
If plaque is not removed, it hardens and becomes calculus (tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with regular brushing. Your hygienist has special instruments designed to remove tartar.
Daily flossing is an effective way to clean teeth where regular brushing can't reach. To floss properly, take 18" of dental floss, wrap it around the middle finger of each hand, and pinch it between your thumb and index finger. Pull the floss taut, then slide it gently between each tooth and under the gum line. Slide the floss up and down the side of each tooth to remove plaque buildup. Be sure to use a clean section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
Over-the-counter mouth rinses can help to fight bad breath, remove loose food particles after brushing, and freshen the mouth. However, mouth rinses are never a substitute for brushing, flossing, or regular dental examinations, and may disguise warning signs of periodontal disease.
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Gingivitis is the early stages of periodontal disease, when only the soft tissues of the mouth are affected. Plaque buildup leads to tartar and bacteria below the gumline, which leads to inflamed, irritated, or bleeding gums. The good news is, gingivitis is reversible. A good professional cleaning, followed by regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, restores gums to good health by removing plaque and bacteria.
Periodontitis is marked by the breakdown of structures that surround, secure, and support the teeth. These structures include the bone, gums, and fibers which anchor the teeth to the gums. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Though bone that has been resorbed due to perio disease will not grow back, aggressive treatment and impeccable home care will keep it from getting worse.
Early signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, or inflammation around the gumline. If these warning signs appear, your dentist will check for calculus (tartar) below the gumline. Your dentist or hygienist may use a tool called a probe to test gums for bleeding and measure periodontal pockets. X-rays will be used to evaluate the bone level around your teeth. Though the main cause of gum disease is lack of oral hygiene, contributing factors include heavy smoking and diabetes.
Gingivitis is easily treated with a professional cleaning (prophy) and proper home care to remove the plaque before it becomes calculus. Contributing factors may be dry mouth (due to medications or medical conditions), braces, mouth-breathing, and many more. We will work together to help you maintain healthy gums.
Periodontitis will require more aggressive treatment. A deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) may be recommended which involves the removal of plaque/calculus below the gums. For your comfort, anesthesia is used and the procedure is broken up into 2 (or more) visits for the deep cleaning itself and a final polish visit where we remove any residual stain and check for persistent areas of inflammation.
The use of a slow-released antibiotic placed into deep pockets may be necessary as well as prescription mouth rinses.
Perio patients frequently require cleanings and check-ups every 3-4 months. With proper home care and frequent check-ups, patients need regular cleanings to maintain their periodontal health.
Laser Assisted Scaling & Root Planing
If you are struggling with the symptoms of gingivitis or periodontal gum disease, it's vital to get the problem under control. The bacteria that cause these problems are very aggressive, and can cause many problems, including painful chewing, bleeding gums, a change in how teeth fit together and even pus between the gums and teeth, not to mention chronic bad breath. If left untreated, gum disease could even cause you to lose your teeth.
In certain cases the Laser-Assisted SRP therapy in combination with the Deep Cleaning, may be recommended for those suffering from gum disease.
As we consider a Deep Cleaning for our patient, the first step is to determine the extent of the gum disease. We'll look at your gums using a small ruler to check for swelling and inflammation, and we'll look for any pockets around your teeth. In some cases, we may also check for bone loss using an X-ray.
Depending on what we discover, treatment options could include simply improving your hygiene routine while using specialized toothpaste and mouthwash, and in more severe cases, we might recommend the Deep Cleaning.
The Laser-Assisted SRP therapy procedure is done comfortably with topical anesthetic or local anesthetic. We will clean under the gum line of your teeth & root surfaces. This will remove the hardened plaque that is causing infection. More and more dentists are using advanced dental lasers as an adjunct to traditional laser-assisted SRP therapy. If your Laser-Assisted SRP therapy is a success, the Dr. & your Hygienist may move you back to the maintenance program at an interval that will help you stay infection free.
It is important to maintain optimal oral hygiene following your laser-assisted SRP therapy procedure so that your gum disease will stop progressing. We will also recommend stopping all use of tobacco, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Other risk factors for gingivitis and periodontal disease include diabetes, some medications, compromised immunity, pregnancy and genetics. Poorly fitting dental appliances, broken fillings and crooked teeth can also lead to problems, and we are happy to help correct those problems so you can keep your gingivitis under control following Laser-Assisted SRP therapy.