Indications of Gum Disease
At our office, we do a thorough dental examination on all our patients every six months. The gums are examined visually and by using an instrument called a periodontal probe pictured below. The instrument gently measures the pocket space between each tooth and gum. This space is called a periodontal pocket. A pocket size of three millimenters or less is a normal range. Dental x-rays] may also be taken to check the bone that supports the teeth and to detect other problems not visible during a clinical examination.
Video: Diagnosing Periodontal Disease
The type of treatment depends on how far the periodontal disease has progressed. In mild cases, only a thorough cleaning is necessary followed by regular checkups and cleanings. If the disease has progressed and periodontal pockets greater than three millimeters are present with bleeding and swollen gums, the tooth roots may also need to be cleaned (planed) to smooth the root surface and remove any plaque or tartar deposits below the gum line. (See section on Scaling and Root Planing below). When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present (7 mm or greater), periodontal surgery may be necessary to restore dental health. We would then refer you to a periodontist, who specializes in treatment of gum disease. We have excellent referral relationships with the finest specialists in Austin.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a special type of cleaning that removes the plaque and tartar below the gumline. This treatment is needed for moderate cases of periodontal disease. The procedure not only removes the bacteria from below the teeth, but also helps control growth of more bacteria and helps gums reattach firmly to teeth. Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth will be numbed. The cleaning may take two to four or more visits to complete, depending on the severity of the periodontal disease. After the treatment, your mouth may feel sore or tender. Keep brushing with a soft toothbrush and flossing your teeth after every meal. You may rinse with warm salt water every few hours. Pain medication may be suggested if you need it, but most people find that it is not necessary.
Video: Scaling & Root Planing Procedure