Happy National Dental Hygiene Month! This month we want to bring awareness to maintaining healthy teeth and gums and preventing periodontal (gum) disease through proper oral hygiene habits. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, almost 1/3 of Americans between the ages of 30 to 54 have some stage of periodontitis or gum disease. However, that also means that 2/3 of Americans in that age range have healthy smiles. Gum disease can be prevented by using regular and proper dental hygiene techniques.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the build up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on teeth. It is important to remove plaque with regular brushing and flossing because after one or two days, plaque will harden into calculus or tartar. Calculus cannot be removed by a toothbrush, but must be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist with special tools. If it is not removed, the bacteria will release toxins and infect the gums causing inflammation. This causes the gums to separate from the teeth and form pockets that can fill with more plaque, which will further worsen the infection. As a result, the gum and bone surrounding the teeth will slowly be destroyed. During advanced stages of gum disease, the gums will be severely receded and may fill with pus. In addition, due to increasing bone loss, the teeth may fall out because they no longer have enough support.
How can periodontal disease be prevented?
A large part of preventing periodontal disease is in your own hands. It is VERY important to brush and floss properly everyday to continuously remove plaque. Proper dental hygiene at home is instrumental for maintaining a healthy smile.
It is also necessary to go to the dentist for regular exams and cleanings at least twice a year. Going to the dentist is just as important as taking care of your teeth at home because dental professionals can remove plaque and calculus that cannot be removed by a toothbrush or in hard to reach places.
Dr. Solomon is adamant in helping all his patients maintain good oral health. At your appointment, Dr. Solomon uses a periodontal probe to assess the health of your gums by measuring the pocket depths. Depending on your specific needs, he may perform differing levels of cleanings or suggest an antibiotic treatment:
- Prophylaxis- A routine teeth cleaning and polishing.
- Full mouth debridement- Removal of plaque and tartar above and around the gum line.
- Scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)- The gums and teeth are cleaned down to the roots to prevent plaque from accumulating under the gums and facilitate the gums to reattach to the tooth.
- Periodontal maintenance- To prevent the relapse or progression of periodontal disease, the area above and below the gums must be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- ARESTIN® treatment- ARESTIN® is an antibiotic that is locally administered between the gum and the tooth. It is completely painless and kills any bacteria left behind during the cleaning. It also continues to work progressively to kill bacteria after you’ve left the office by releasing the antibiotics gradually over time.
In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, be proactive about your oral health! Remember to always brush and floss properly and if you’re due for a cleaning or have any concerns or questions about your periodontal health call (310)475-5598 to make an appointment with Dr. Solomon today!