When gum disease progresses, this procedure offers the chance of saving your teeth.
Gum disease is a very common oral health issue and relatively few of us will go through life without having it to some degree. In many cases, we will probably be completely unaware and the problem may actually be short lived.
This can happen, for example, when we are ill and perhaps temporarily neglect our teeth cleaning regime a little. For most of us though, we will probably need to have treatment to manage or try to reverse the problem, particularly where it has progressed.
Before we look at a ‘deep clean’, let us take a look at why we recommend that our Epsom patients see a dental hygienist at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on a regular basis.
Over time, mineral deposits build up on the surface of our teeth. Whilst these are relatively harmless in themselves, they create a rough surface which not only makes staining more likely, but also allows bacteria to collect more easily. As bacterial deposits build up on the tooth surface, and especially just below the gum line, these become harder to remove and gingivitis is likely. At this stage, the problem can often be treated in a straightforward manner using a scale and polish procedure together with improved care at home. This involves the removal of the majority of bacteria and tartar using a manual tool, before shattering the rest with a sonic dental implement. A final clean using a high speed brush, means that your mouth can hopefully remain free of gum disease with a short, comfortable and straightforward maintenance procedure.
Advanced gum disease
Although the above procedure can be carried out with little or no discomfort, too many people avoid this stage of oral health care and may, consequently, suffer from a more advanced form of gum disease, known as periodontitis. This type of gum disease may not only lead to the same problems as gingivitis, including sore or bleeding gums and halitosis, but can actually threaten the survival of your teeth.
Periodontitis attacks not only the soft tissue of the gum, but also the underlying bone. As this weakens, the tooth may start to become loose, and, if not treated, eventually fall out. If too advanced, a clean by the hygienist is unlikely to offer sufficient benefit and a ‘deep’ clean may be necessary.
What is a ‘deep’ clean?
A deep clean is also known as a ‘root planing’ procedure. This is perhaps a better term as a deep clean may simply indicate a more extensive cleaning than that usually carried out by the hygienist. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the procedure will need to be carried out by a suitably qualified dentist or specialist.
A deep clean (or root planing) is a much more invasive procedure than a hygienist clean and will nearly always be carried out using a local anaesthetic. Although some aspects of the treatment are similar to that carried out by the hygienist, this procedure involves not only removing bacterial deposits from the tooth and the gum pockets, but deep down below the gums, including the roots of the tooth and the surrounding bone tissue. This can be an uncomfortable procedure, especially if you have sensitive gums. Unfortunately, it is the only treatment available that can help to save your teeth in this situation. It is, of course, much better to look after your teeth so that this treatment is not necessary!
If this procedure is needed throughout the whole mouth, rather than just in a localised area, it may be necessary to schedule a number of appointments at our Epsom practice before the treatment is completed.
After root planing
Due to the nature of this treatment, you are likely to feel some discomfort once the anaesthetic has worn off. You may even have some swelling of the gums and possibly minor bleeding too, for a few days. We may recommend a suitable mouthwash for immediate aftercare and will also discuss improving your cleaning regimen to help prevent the problem from recurring. If you do not have any already, it is advisable to ensure that you have a supply of your usual painkiller at home, before your start this treatment.
You will also need to schedule some post treatment check ups so that we can check that the gums are healing as they should.
Ultimately, gum disease is largely avoidable with a good oral health regimen. Make sure that yours includes regular brushing (using a fluoride toothpaste), flossing between your teeth, and seeing your dentist on a regular basis for early detection and treatment where necessary. We offer a friendly family dental service to help you to keep both your teeth and gums healthy.
If you live in the Epsom area of Surrey and would like to find out more about the care that we offer, please call the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720136.