If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you are not alone. About 50% of Americans currently suffer from gum disease, and those numbers go up as you age. You might not even realize that you have an infection because so many people suffer from the most common symptoms and often think it is a normal part of life.
Gum disease begins with bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth creating waste products. This waste combines with saliva, bits and particles of food, and the bacteria themselves to form a film called plaque, which collects on the surface of your teeth. If this harmful film is not adequately removed through good dental hygiene habits, it can harden into a substance called tartar. Tartar creeps below the gum line and pushes the gums away from the teeth, creating a pocket where infection can occur.
If left untreated, this chronic infection can eat away (destroy) the supporting tissues (bone, ligaments) around the tooth and cause the bone to recede from around the roots of your teeth, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
Our team believes in non-surgical methods of treatment whenever possible. The earliest stage of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, can be easily treated through changes in your personal care routine and regular professional dental cleanings. Dr. Allen Tam may also advise you to make behavioral changes, such as quitting smoking.
More advanced cases of gum disease may require deep cleaning, using a method known as scaling and root planing. During this proceedure, our hygienist removes plaque and tartar build-up from beneath the gum line. She then smoothes away the grooves in the roots of your teeth where bacteria can settle. We may also prescribe antibiotics the treat more serious infection in your mouth.
The frequency of your professional cleanings depends on your unique biology. Many patients stay completely healthy by having two professional cleanings per year, while others may benefit from more frequent cleanings if they have a tendency to build plaque or relapse into periodontal disease. Dr. Tam will recommend a dental hygiene treatment plan that will keep your smile healthy and beautiful.