Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. It is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that produces plaque that sticks to your teeth causing the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily also known as gingivitis. When periodontal disease advances, it can spread to your surrounding bone and ligaments causing teeth to become loose called periodontitis.
The first stage of treatment for periodontal disease is a thorough examination with x-rays and probings to determine the extent of the disease. If the patient has gingivitis, then the dental hygienist will clean the teeth to remove the plaque and polish the teeth to hinder regrowth of the bacteria.
If the patient has periodontitis, then the dental hygienist will perform a scaling and root planning also known as a deep cleaning. This treatment is done under local anesthesia to prevent any pain or discomfort from the procedure. The concept of a deep cleaning is for the hygienist to reach as deep as possible underneath the gum line to remove all the plaque or calculus as possible to promote healthy gums and bone. The patient returns in approximately 4-6 weeks to re-examine the gums and polish the teeth.