Periodontal disease is a slow and silent condition that progresses from red, inflamed gums to bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Treated in its early stages, the process can be reversed, ensuring a full set of teeth for a lifetime.
Here, experienced San Diego area dentist Dr. Jennifer D. Santoro discusses causes and treatment options to restore health to your gums, stability to bone and roots, and confidence to your smile.
Symptoms of gum disease are subtle at first. Hardened plaque below the gum line leads to exponential growth of bacteria in gum pockets, resulting in gingivitis.
As gingivitis progresses to the more serious phase known as periodontitis, you may begin to experience inflamed gums that seem to bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing. Healthy pink gums now seem red. As gaps appear between the tooth and gum tissue, the gums begin to recede. You may experience pain and sensitivity with your teeth, and even feel that one or more teeth is less securely anchored in your mouth.
Scaling and Root Planing
When home care and regular cleanings have failed to stop the progression of gum disease, Dr. Santoro will advise scaling and root planing. This proven method allows a dentist to reverse the damage caused by periodontitis by cleaning out the gum pockets and injecting an antibiotic solution to suppress future bacterial growth. Without this intervention, more serious periodontal treatment will be necessary, such as flap surgery or grafts of bone or soft tissue to rebuild the bone and strengthen the root.
Scaling and root planing will make a dramatic difference in the integrity of your gums, shrinking inflamed pockets and improving your overall oral health. When an oral medication known as Arestin is used in conjunction with the procedure, the results are even more impressive.
Arestin is a localized antibiotic that is applied directly to the source of your periodontal disease — each individual gum pocket. Arestin is able to reach deep into the base of a gum pocket, where deep cleaning is sometimes not possible. Insertion of Arestin takes just a few seconds per tooth and does not require any sutures. Once the antibiotic is gradually absorbed over a period of two weeks, it will leave no trace.
With this precisely targeted antibiotic, gum pockets in excess of 4 mm have been observed to lose more volume and heal faster than with a scaling and root planing procedure that does not include Arestin. This is according to a recent clinical study that measured gum line improvement among periodontal patients 90 days after a deep cleaning. For patients 50 years of age and older, there was a 33 percent greater reduction in the size of gum pockets compared with a control group. Smokers recorded a 29 percent greater reduction, and for patients with cardiovascular disease the result was a dramatic 58 percent increase in pocket depth improvement.
To schedule your appointment, or to learn more about periodontal treatment, call Dr. Santoro at (858) 566-8510, or email Village Center Dentistry in Scripps Ranch today.