Regular dental checkups, in addition to good oral hygiene at home, are essential to maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Regular checkup appointments typically take 20 to 40 minutes, and we suggest scheduling two of these checkups a year. Without proper care of your teeth, you run the risk of gum disease which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. At each regular checkup, the dentist will measure the depth of the shallow v-shaped crevice (called a sulcus) between your tooth and gums to identify whether you have gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal diseases attack just below the gum line, where ultimately they cause the attachment of the tooth and supporting tissues to break down. The two major stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing. However, without thorough removal, toxins from plaque cause the disease process to continue. Gingivitis left untreated may worsen and develop into periodontitis.
In the more advanced stages of gum disease, called periodontitis, the gums and bone that support the teeth become seriously damaged. Whereas healthy gums and bone anchor teeth firmly in place, infected gums can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or have to be removed by a dentist. This can be treated with scaling and root planing. Scaling is the process where the tartar is scraped off from below and up above the gum line. Root planing is where the root is cleared of any coarse spots where germs and bacteria collect. Sometimes, a is used to remove plaque and tartar which can decrease bleeding and pain following the treatment.
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