Periodontal Maintenance

Gum Disease Prevention

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.

Why is oral hygiene so important?

Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.

Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.

Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors. However, it is mainly caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar).

Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Clenching and grinding teeth
  • Medication
  • Poor nutrition

Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.

Periodontal Disease

Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.

Treating Periodontal Disease

Oncer gingivitis has progressed to periodontal disease, the underlying structures including the bone support of the tooth is involved and compromised. At this point, regular dental cleanings will not address or treat the condition. A procedure called Soft Tissue Management(STM) is done to gently remove the bacterial deposits that have collected in the pocket between the tooth and the gums where the damage is being done. This is done with anesthetic to make the procedure comfortable. It is usually done in one or two visits. After the STM is completed, we see the periodontal patient back in approximately 4 weeks to reassess the condition of the gums and the response to the treatment. At that point, a recommendation for visits with the hygienist every 3-4 months will be made. A periodontal patient should not be seen on 6 month frequency as the disease will continue to progress and worsen leading to more bacterial contamination and more bone destruction as well as the continued presence of infection. The 3-4 month periodontal maintenance is done without anesthetic and is comfortable to the patient. Adhering to this 3-4 month periodontal maintenance is crucial to the successful treatment of periodontal disease and in avoiding further infection and possible tooth loss. 

Dr. Elbrecht understands that periodontal disease and the associated treatment/maintenance is sometimes confusing to patients. He is happy to discuss this with you and how it pertains to you, if you have periodontal disease.