Don’t be worried, this is a wonderful thing your dental office is doing for you by giving you the treatment that will really benefit your oral and overall health. When a hygienist does a regular cleaning, which is called a prophylaxis they are taking the tartar and calculus buildup off of your tooth. They are working on the part of your tooth that you can see, the part that is above the gum line. But, like a glacier in the water, your tooth extends below your gum line. The foundation and strength of your tooth is what you can’t see. Under the gums is the root of your tooth that is embedded in your jawbone. This is where periodontal disease can be hiding. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that destroys the support and structure of your teeth. Once it destroys the gums it moves on to the root of your tooth and then the bone that keeps your tooth attached to your jawbone.
Your hygienist will take some measurements which she might call periodontal charting or pocket measurements. This tells her if your tooth is secure and disease free.
A totally healthy reading would be in the 0-1 range, 2-3 mm is stage 1 which is called gingivitis. Pocket depths of 4-5mm is stage 2 periodontitis which starts to include gum recession. When your dentist or hygienist sees pocket depths of 4mm or higher he or she will recommend a periodontal deep cleaning called scaling and root planning. When there are reading s of 6-10mm this is advanced periodontal disease and now you have bone loss also.
When your hygienist does a deep cleaning she is taking the bacteria off of the root of your tooth and is also cleaning the inside of the gum area that touches the root. By cleaning both of these areas and letting them heal tightly back together, the pockets are reduced and your tooth can get back to being healthy! She may also recommend an adjunctive therapy called - local delivery antimicrobial or brand name Arrestin. This is a method of placing medicine or antibiotic directly in specific areas to help eradicate infection and bacteria. This is a wonderful new advancement in the treatment of periodontal disease!
Periodontal disease has many causes including poor oral hygiene, pregnancy, puberty, genetics (Thanks Mom!) medications, stress, poor eating habits, clenching and grinding, diabetes, chewing tobacco and smoking. Symptoms can be; swollen and red gums, receding gum line that makes your tooth look longer than normal, bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, loose teeth, bleeding gums and tender gums.
Periodontal disease is not just about your oral health, but your overall health as well. The bacteria in your mouth are passed on through your body constantly all day. There is a direct connection between periodontal disease and your systemic health. Periodontal disease increases risk of heart attack by 25%, strokes by a factor of 10 and makes it harder to control diabetes. It can also cause digestive disorders. People with untreated gum disease spend 25% more in health bills in their lifetime*!
When you hear that you need to have a deep periodontal cleaning, you are not alone, 85% of the population has some form of gum disease.* Stop yours in the early stages and say yes to your dentist and hygienist when they recommend a deep cleaning. It is worth every penny.
Deep cleanings are usually done in 2 visits with your hygienist, usually one side of your mouth and then the other within 2-3 weeks of each other is ideal.
Scaling and Root Planning is charged by your dental office in quadrants, (upper right, lower right, upper left, lower left). Costs could range from $180-$300 per quadrant plus Arestin. Your dental insurance company will usually help out by paying 50%- 80% of the fee once your deductible has been met. After your scaling, your hygienist will bring you back every 3-4 months for a maintenance appointment called Periodontal Maintenance. Your insurance company usually will help you pay for this because you have had the Scaling and Root Planning. Now you have happy healthy gums and will keep your teeth longer and avoid health problems associated with periodontal disease.
*Statistics from www.themouthdoctor.org