Your gum tissue is critical to keeping your teeth securely in place, but they also serve an even more important role. Gum tissue creates a barrier between the bacterial environment within your mouth and your bloodstream.
Your mouth is filled with a plethora of different bacteria, some of which are beneficial and others that are potentially harmful. When your gums become inflamed and pull away from the surface of your teeth, your risk of dental decay rises, as does the risk that dangerous bacteria will enter your bloodstream.
Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar build-up, allowing bacteria to create inflammation in your gums. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this stage, gums are swollen but remain attached to your teeth.
Periodontitis begins when gum disease progresses to the point that inflamed gums begin to pull away from the surface of your teeth. Pockets form below the gum line, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply.
Scaling and root planing is a combination of treatments that can control gum disease without the need for surgical intervention. The process is similar to regular teeth cleaning but goes more in-depth.
With scaling, your dental professional manually removes any plaque and tartar located beneath your gum line. This deep cleaning gets to the bottom of any gum pockets.
Root planing involves smoothing the surface of exposed tooth roots to make it harder for plaque and tartar to take hold. This treatment also helps your gum tissue reattach to your teeth, sealing out bacteria.
You can prevent the need for scaling and root planing by embracing a solid dental hygiene routine. Be sure to brush and floss daily, taking care to brush thoroughly but not too aggressively.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and be sure to cover the area where your gums and teeth meet. Get in the habit of flossing every day, and consider asking your dental team for a demonstration of flossing techniques during your next visit. You can also try flossing picks, a powered water or air flosser, or another tool to make flossing easier.
It’s also important to schedule routine dental exams to give your dental team a chance to catch signs of gum disease in the earliest possible stages, where interventions are most effective. If you’re overdue for an exam, call the office to book a visit or spend a few moments on the online scheduling page.