One of the most important issues that we can educate our patients about is the prevention of dental disease. It is our goal to get your mouth healthy and help you keep it that way. One of the main components of this plan is the dental cleaning or prophy appointment. This will be established at an appropriate time interval specifically designed for the patients' needs. It is probably the most important and valuable visit for any patient especially with the overwhelming evidence about periodontal disease affecting other systemic problems including heart disease.
The Lifelong Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups
Clearly, regular periodic dental cleanings and examinations are important keys to keeping your teeth for a lifetime. The best way to prevent dental decay and periodontal disease is by the thorough removal of plaque and the accompanying bacteria that accumulates on the teeth. This can be kept in check by maintaining a high level of oral hygiene at home with brushing and flossing and regular visits to our hygienist for professional cleanings at least twice a year. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, the maintenance interval may be more frequent.
The main cause of periodontal disease is the bacterial plaque which is a sticky film teaming with bacteria that sticks to your teeth. If it is not removed on a daily basis, it will turn into a hard substance called calculus or tartar within a short period of time. The bacteria in plaque with its byproducts cause an inflammatory response and infect the gum tissue and bone. These bacteria if left unchecked can cause destruction of the gum tissue around the teeth and more significantly, the bone that helps to support the tooth in your mouth. Some people are more prone to periodontal disease because their host resistance is lower to the infective bacteria. Therefore they must always do their utmost to maintain their mouth clean with a high level of oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings.
Conservative Periodontal Therapy
The basis of conservative periodontal therapy is the thorough cleaning of plaque and calculus off of the entire tooth structure using ultrasonic and hand scaling. This plaque is the accumulation of oral bacteria and food debris that remains on the surfaces of the teeth usually near the gum tissue. The accumulation of plaque causes inflammation of the gum tissue and breakdown of the periodontal attachment (the fibrous connection of the supporting tissue to the tooth). Pockets between the tooth and soft tissue become deeper which make it more difficult to clean properly and easier for plaque to collect.
Scaling and Root Planning
This is the procedure undertaken by the dental hygienist or dentist to treat moderate to advanced gum disease by thoroughly scaling the roots of teeth to achieve a smooth, calculus free surface. It is common to treat one or two sections of the mouth at a time so several visits might be required and topical or local anesthesia may be used to prevent discomfort during the treatment.
Diode Laser and Arestin® therapy
As an adjunct to the periodontal scaling and root planning, it is often indicated to place an antibiotic in the deep pocket areas to help control the bacteria accumulating there. This can be accomplished in a comfortable manner by locally administering Arestin®, microspheres of antibiotic, into the pockets which comes in a premeasured cartridge.
The diode laser can accomplish the same results by sterilizing the depths of the periodontal pocket by using light energy supplied through a small glass tip which takes only about 20 seconds per site. The goal of this treatment is to significantly reduce the pocket depth, kill the bacteria associated with periodontal disease and decrease bleeding in the gum tissue.
Diet and Oral Hygiene
According to the American Dental Health Association, foods and drinks that benefit your muscles and bones are also good for teeth and gums. Calcium and vitamin D help strengthen and re-mineralize the teeth; these ingredients can be found in most dairy products. Grains are a good source of vitamin B, which is important for healthy gum tissue. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamin C, which has a similar effect. Basic foods like milk and cheese raise the pH value of the mouth, preventing damage from acids. In fact, all food promotes saliva production, which helps maintain optimal pH value.
Exposure to sugar causes the most damage to teeth over time. It is important to remember that the amount of sugar consumed in a sitting is less important than how often the teeth are exposed, since it is exposure over time that leads to tooth decay. When sugar is present in the mouth, bacteria are able to use it for food, which allows them to multiply. Limiting sugar consumption to normal meal times is the best way to control this factor.