Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place.
Plaque is a film of bacteria that attaches to teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque causes irritation of the tissues that support your teeth. This irritation can lead to chronic inflammation, bleeding, and infection that can destroy your gum and bone tissue. As the disease progresses, pockets form, which allow more plaque to collect below the gum line. Unless treated, the affected teeth may become loose and even require removal by a dentist.
During your check up, the dentist examined your gums for periodontal problems. An instrument called a probe was used to gently measure the depth of the spaces between your gums and teeth. At the very edge of the gum line, healthy gum tissue forms a very shallow, v-shaped groove (also known as the sulcus) between the tooth and gums. The normal depth of the sulcus should be three millimeters or less. If you have periodontal disease, this normally shallow sulcus has developed into a deeper pocket that bleeds, collects more plaque and bacteria, and is difficult to keep clean.
Treating Periodontal Disease
The first step is to have a dental cleaning above your gum line. The next step is to bring you back for a “deep” cleaning, called scaling and root planing. A local anesthetic will be given to reduce any discomfort. Once the scaling and root planing treatment is complete, it is recommended that you have periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3 months for one year. After one year, a re-evaluation of pocket depths will be conducted to determine if pockets have healed.