We talk a lot about how periodontal or gum disease is linked to playing a larger role in systemic health, and is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. One of the most important things you can do to prevent gum disease is to get preventative cleanings on a schedule that is recommended by your dentist and dental hygienist. For most people this is every six months.
Professional preventative cleanings involve removing bacterial and tartar build-up from the the space between your teeth and gums. For people that brush and floss daily with proper technique this build-up tends to be minimal and above the gums.
Because periodontal disease is such a big deal, we routinely screen patients for gum disease. Our hygienists use an instrument called a probe to measure the area around your teeth to see if you have any pocketing between tooth and gum, where bacteria forms. Three millimeters or less is generally healthy. Deeper pocketing with bleeding, red gums generally indicates some form of gum disease (ranging from mild-severe).In this situation your dentist or hygienist might prescribe deep scaling and root planing (also called a deep cleaning).
If you need a deep cleaning, your hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth and from the pockets between your teeth and gums. This is also called “scaling.” Another part of deep cleaning is “Root planing” which is when the hygienist uses a scaling instrument to remove plaque and tartar from the roots of your teeth. After one or both of these procedures, follow up visits are necessary to ensure that gums are returning to a healthier state.
With regular trips to the dentist, and proper brushing and flossing, it is unlikely you will develop periodontal disease. So take good care of your teeth now to avoid bigger problems down the line!