Teeth Cleaning and Periodontal Health in West Palm Beach

Why do I need to have a teeth cleaning?

Regularly scheduled teeth cleanings are very important in maintaining both oral health and overall systemic health. Maintaining good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular teeth cleanings are the best methods to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

How does bacteria in my mouth affect my teeth and gums?

Bacterial plaque builds up on your teeth. Even with meticulous brushing and flossing at home, there are certain areas of our teeth that tend to build up plaque more quickly; and there are some areas of the teeth that floss and a brush just can’t get to for optimal maintenance. This is why we have specialized instruments that remove this bacterial buildup in those hard to get to areas.

What is periodontal disease? (Gum and Bone Disease)

Everyone’s mouth contains the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. When the number of these bacteria accumulate, they begin to breakdown healthy gum and bone. This process is called periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is the most common chronic bacterial infection in adults and the number one reason for tooth loss in the U.S. It is estimated that at least 50% of the population has some degree of periodontal disease.

How often should I have a teeth cleaning?

This is a question I get asked often. We generally place patients on recall cycles of 3, 4, and 6 months depending on the following variables:

  • diet: a diet with elevated levels of sugar will require more frequent cleanings. Sugar is the fuel which bacteria feed off of. The more sugar you eat, the more bacteria will replicate and thrive.
  • genetics: yes, there is a genetic component to gum disease. Patients who have a family history of high risk tooth decay and/or a history of periodontal disease should consider more frequent cleanings.
  • number of dental restorations present: if you have a lot of fillings and crowns, chances are you are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay and should have your teeth cleaned more frequently.
  • healthy history: patients who have diabetes or are immunocompromised are at a high risk for developing periodontal disease due to their decreased ability to heal.
  • smoking: smoking is a risk factor in developing gum disease because it acts a constrictor of the blood vessels. When blood vessels are constricted, they cannot get the appropriate antibodies to the gums. This basically lowers your bodies ability to protect against the buildup of bacteria so now you need to have more frequent cleanings to manually remove them for you and prevent destruction of your gums and jaw bone.
  • history of periodontal disease: patients who have had active periodontal disease are placed on more frequent intervals for cleanings. This is because the deep pockets that have progressed as a result of past bone loss now make it almost impossible to clean these areas well at home. You need a professional to more frequently remove it for you.
  • age: generally older patients tend to be on more medications which are known to cause dry mouth (xerostomia).

Older patients may have reduced manually dexterity, which may hamper the effectiveness of their home care techniques.

How does periodontal disease begin and progress?

Over time, the plaque built up on teeth can harden and become trapped at the base of the tooth. This hardened plaque substance is called calculus.

The bacteria in plaque and calculus release toxins that are destructive to your gums and surrounding tissues. If these substances are not removed through regularly scheduled hygiene appointments and proper daily home care, the gums can become inflamed and infected, which is known as gingivitis.

Left untreated, gum disease may progress as the infection can create deep pockets (gaps) or cause your gums to recede or pull back. This exposes the roots of your teeth and allows bacteria to grow below the gumline. Over time, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are weakened and the teeth can become loose and may need to be removed.

How can I know if I have periodontal disease?

Since early gum disease symptoms are often mild, many people are not aware of their condition until it becomes more serious.

Here are some common symptoms of periodontal disease:

  • Bad breath: The bacteria that cause gum disease release toxins that can cause bad breath.
  • Tender or painful gums: receding gums and exposed tooth roots can cause added sensitivity.
  • Bright red gums: even a subtle change in the color of your gums can be a sign of gum disease.
  • Swollen gums:  a gum infection can cause the gums to swell.
  • Bleeding gums: bleeding is a common symptom of gum disease. Healthy gums should not bleed during brushing, flossing, or a standard dental exam.
  • Gaps: peridontal disease causes a gap, or pocket, to form along the side of your tooth.
  • Loose teeth: it’s not normal to have teeth that can wiggle, at any age.
  • Tooth alignment changes: periodontal disease can cause your teeth to change position over time due to the loss of gum and bone support.

You may not have these symptoms today, but they may develop in the future. So it’s important to maintain a good oral care routine.

What treatment is recommended for periodontal disease?

Scaling and root planning (SRP) is a procedure where we will clean plaque and calculus from your teeth and roots deep below your gumline. I prefer to numb the gum tissue so that the treatment is completed with minimal discomfort. Following scaling and root planing procedures, you will be placed on a 3 or 4 month maintenance program to control disease progression.

What is Arestin?

ARESTIN© is a locally administered antibiotic treatment for periodontal disease. The active antibiotic is minocycline (a member of the tetracycline family).

I may recommend ARESTIN© as an adjunct to scaling and root planing (SRP) to reduce deep pockets and to control inflamed gum tissue.

ARESTIN© may also be used as part of a periodontal maintenance program to help improve localized areas of deeper pockets and inflammation.

How does periodontal disease affect the rest of my body?

It is so vitally important to recognize that periodontal disease has far reaching consequences beyond your oral health alone. Below is what research is beginning to show:

  • Research has indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  • Diabetics are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications.
  • Researchers have suggested that a link exists between osteoporosis and bone-loss in the jaw, leading to tooth loss.
  • Research has found that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs, causing respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease.
  • Researchers have found that men with gum disease were 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.
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