Brought to you by Dr. Levine
“Dr. Keren Levine received her Doctorate of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine,”
Are you starting to notice some changes in your mouth? Do your teeth look a little bit longer? Do they look more yellow? Are they starting to shift? Bad breath? Wait, does one actually feel LOOSE? Yup, its time to go for a dental checkup.
Your hygienist completes an exam and reviews your x-rays. They probe around your gums, and you’re thinking why on earth are they trying to hurt me? Then they tell you something you never thought would happen to you. You have gum disease or periodontitis.
Your dentist shows you the x-rays that show bone loss, and the buildup of calculus, or what you know it as, tartar. They show you the size of the pockets between your gums and teeth, where the bacteria collect. They show you the amount of bleeding you had just from touching your gums. Your hygienist will explain and recommend a common treatment procedure, called scaling and root planning or a deep cleaning.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a chronic infection most commonly referred to as gum disease. Nearly half of all adults in the US have it. Bacteria collect in the pockets and spaces below the gum line and around tartar. Bacteria is usually present due to inadequate oral hygiene (this is why you need to floss). The bacteria secrete acids that dissolve the bone around the roots of your teeth. Left untreated, this chronic infection can and will progress. You will lose your teeth because your jaw bone will continue to dissolve, and that bone doesn’t grow back. Periodontitis has also been linked to heart disease and diabetes. A chronic and systemic infection in any other area of the body should be treated and addressed immediately, so why should your mouth be any different?
The Difference: Deep Dental Cleaning vs Regular Cleaning
There is a big difference between a deep dental cleaning vs regular cleaning.
A regular cleaning polishes your teeth and removes plaque above the gum line. A deep cleaning removes the bacteria colonies from your mouth. These colonies are well below the gum line and adhere to the root surface of the teeth. That’s usually why patients prefer to be numb for it. A deep cleaning is a treatment procedure that sometimes requires anesthesia, either topical or local, and a follow-up visit to make sure the infection has been cleared and your gums are healing.
So when your hygienist or dentist recommend scaling and root planning, it’s not because we are “looking for work to do”. It’s because we’ve collected information by accurate diagnostics and see a bigger problem. A standard cleaning won’t cut it and will leave millions of bacteria cells in your mouth that will continue to destroy the bone in your jaw and eventually cause pain and tooth loss.
So, what should you do? Gum disease is treatable and can be preventable. If you have dental insurance, chances are deep cleaning treatment is covered. If you are pregnant, seek treatment right away – gum disease is linked to preterm birth and babies with low birthweight. If your insurance doesn’t cover scaling and root planning, it should still be your number one priority, because left untreated, it will end up costing you much more in the long run to reverse its effects.
Patients who have had their periodontitis treated at our office have repeatedly told us how much better they feel overall after their treatment. Patients who have come back for follow up maintenance visits and regular cleanings post-treatment report that brushing and flossing aren’t painful anymore. They report their whole body feels great. Some have reported better check-ups with their physicians. Patients are grateful for our services because they know they are able to keep their natural teeth for years to come!