Periodontal Disease


What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is often painless, and may go unnoticed. The problem is that until it gets quite severe, the person often has no symptoms. Sadly, the damage to the support structures of the teeth is irreversible.This is why daily oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are extremely important. Periodontal disease is a bacterial disease that attacks the soft tissues and bone that surround and support your teeth. To stop gum disease from progressing, you may be advised that you need periodontal therapy, or deep cleaning. This rids your mouth of the bacteria in the pockets and provides conditions for healing to occur.


Scaling and Root Planning (Deep Cleaning)

Bacteria that cause gum disease thrive in a warm, moist, dark environment in the sulcus around your teeth (think of the sulcus as the same space between your finger and finger nail). If not removed adequately or regularly the bacteria irritate the gums, which means that they bleed more easily. When brushing your teeth you may notice bleeding, it can also happen while eating. Most adults have some degree of gum disease. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. If gingivitis goes untreated the inflammation will work its way down the neck of the tooth causing a “periodontal pocket”. When the bacteria invades the pocket and multiplies the pocket grows to a depth that is no longer manageable by brushing and flossing. A deep cleaning is then necessary.

The progression of periodontal disease will determine how much time will be needed to adequately clean your teeth.
A root planed root surface free of tartar has a better chance of allowing the gum tissues to heal and reattach to it. As a result, some deep gum pockets can be reduced after a deep cleaning.

You and your hygienist may elect to treat your periodontal disease in one long appointment or a few smaller appointments. Your health and comfort is very important to us and we welcome your questions and opinions.

What is the difference between cleaning and deep cleaning?

There is a difference between scaling and root planning, this can be confusing.

Scaling is the operation of removing tartar from the surfaces of the teeth.

Root planning is more involved and intricate. Root planning the process of smothering the root surfaces and at the same time removing any infected tooth structure. If you have periodontal pocketing, the pockets around the teeth have deepened, thereby permitting tartar deposits to form under the gumline on the root surfaces.

These two processes tend to blur together. During the cleaning process, the dental hygienist removes tartar and performs any necessary root planning at the same time. Any roughness can be planed away to result in a smooth surface.

Does it hurt?

Don’t hesitate to discuss with us how to best manage any discomfort. Dr. Gemmell and staff want you to be comfortable during your time spent with us.

Your hygienist may determine that you may need to make certain areas numb depending on the depth of the pocket and severity of the root surface irregularity.

Our office uses an alternative to injectable anesthetics that may be an option to try with deeper pocket cleaning. The hygienist uses a device that delivers topical anesthetic gel gently under the gums. This will avoid numbing of the lips and or tongue. Much like injected anesthetics the gel can reduce or eliminate sensations in the teeth themselves.

After Root Planning, what you can expect?

After root planning discomfort can vary. Soreness afterwards is to be expected as the cleaning is taking place in the deeper region under the gums.

For a period after root planning you may experience bleeding as the tissues heal. It is still very important to maintain impeccable home care as you heal. Dr. Gemmell and our hygienist will recommend an aseptic mouth rinse called chlorhexidine. It is not uncommon for teeth to be sore or temperature sensitive following this procedure. Over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen work very well to alleviate discomfort.


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Distinctive Dentistry: Robert Gemmell DMD

1775 River Road Eugene, OR 97404

Mon - Fri: 8:00 am5:00 pm
Sat - Sun: Closed