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Periodontal Services  Maintenance is vital

Periodontal Maintenance is an important consideration for future gum health

Individuals with periodontal (gum) problems or disease, or a history of previous periodontal disease, require special attention and care in the form of periodontal maintenance.  Once gum issues have started in an individual, he/she will continue to be prone to having gum issues or relapsing back into a state of active gum disease for the remainder of his/her life.

Because of this, we will often suggest that patients with gum issues maintain their periodontal health with more frequent, and gum focused cleanings.  These cleanings are called Periodontal Maintenance cleanings, and differ from a ‘regular’ cleaning in that they have an additional focus on evaluating the gum and bone health for changes and cleaning the deeper pocketing around teeth that patients with gum disease typically have. Depending on the individual, we will typically do Periodontal Maintenance cleanings on a 3 or 4 month basis versus the typical 6 month cleaning interval.

It is important to keep the teeth in a patient with gum disease extremely clean because gum disease is caused by an inflammatory response from the body’s gum and bone surrounding the teeth to tartar (calculus) buildup and bacteria on the teeth.  This response can be caused by heavy calculus from dental neglect or if an individual deposits calculus at an accelerated rate.  There are also health factors that lead to an individual being more prone to this inflammatory response of gum disease such as diabetes, or other conditions that interfere with the body’s defenses. Family history can also play a very important role in someone’s susceptibility to gum disease.  Gum disease does not just affect the tissues that hold in the teeth; it also affects the rest of the body.  Gum disease has been linked to many other health conditions outside of the mouth, such as heart disease.  Therefore, it is not just important to treat gum disease to keep the mouth healthy, but also the entire body.

Patient Annual Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluations are routine at Madison Family Dental, whether you are at a high risk or a low risk for periodontal disease

One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The recent research has indicated the prevalence of periodontal disease in the US may be significantly higher than originally estimated.  This means that all adults should thoroughly assess the state of their periodontal health to receive accurate information about the health of their mouths.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth.  If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.  Research has also shown that periodontal disease is associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Therefore, it is very important to treat the inflammation that causes periodontal diseases as soon as possible to ensure that your entire body stays healthy.

Periodontal disease is thought to be one of the most prevalent non-communicable chronic diseases in our population.

The new findings support the need for comprehensive periodontal evaluations annually.  A dental profession should examine each tooth above and below the gum line.  A visual examination alone is not enough.

The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that every patient receive a comprehensive periodontal evaluation on an annual basis.

A Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation is way to assess your periodontal health by examining:

  • Your teeth
  • Your plaque
  • Your gums
  • Your bite
  • Your bone structure
  • Your risk factors

What measurements are taken during a Periodontal Evaluation?

The periodontal exam and probing include taking measurements of the spaces between your teeth and gums.  This space is known as the sulcus.  When the gums are healthy, the sulcus is usually about 3 millimeters deep.  Healthy gums cling tightly to the tooth.  Diseased gums tend to swell and detach from the tooth.  In advanced forms of periodontitis, the pocket can be more than 10 millimeters deep.

Taking the measurements once a year at your dental visit helps your dentist track the progress of treatment.  A common treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing.

Common Questions Answered About Periodontal Maintenance

I have heard there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease. Is this true? Where can I find more information?
There is plenty of research out there that indicates a connection between periodontal disease and gum disease. There are also links being studied between gum disease and other diseases such as obesity and stroke. Women who have gum disease are also more susceptible to having a low birth weight baby. The American Dental Association’s patient website, mouthhealthy.org has some great resources to view. If you prefer to read peer-reviewed scientific research, here’s a good review article in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Both of my parents have periodontal disease, and I’m worried that it may be genetic. Is there a way to determine my risk for developing gum disease?
There are some genetic links to gum disease in addition to a bacterial link. Some studies indicate that up to 30% of the population has some genetic risk of periodontal disease. In addition to genetic susceptibility, we also get a significant portion of the bacteria in that naturally live in our mouth and digestive tract from our parents. The particular spectrum of bacteria that we get in our mouth can greatly affect our susceptibility to periodontal disease in addition to genetics.
What can I do at home to prevent periodontal disease?
  • thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day
  • clean between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once every day
  • visit your dentist for a checkup and professional Periodontal Maintenance cleaning regularly
  • If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop. Tobacco use increases the risk of developing periodontal disease.
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
Other than diagnose and treat gum disease, what else have periodontists been trained to do?
Periodontists are dentists who have additional residency training in all things related to gum health. This can also involve treating defects in healthy gums, cosmetic gum issues, gum infections, medical complications that result in gum problems, placing implants into bone to replace teeth, and managing growths and sores on the tissues of the mouth.
Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?
Children can get generalized gum disease. Gingivitis, the beginning stages of gum disease is very common in kids and can be characterized by red, puffy gums. The best way to prevent gingivitis in kids is to be sure they are doing a good job brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. There are also specific forms of juvenile periodontal disease that children and teens are susceptible to. Kids with underlying medical issues, such as diabetes or Down syndrome, can also be more prone to periodontal disease.
What is the difference between plaque and calculus?
Plaque is a sticky film that is always forming on the teeth. There are bacteria in plaque that secrete toxins that can irritate the gums. Plaque can be cleaned off with a toothbrush. If plaque stays on teeth, it hardens into a rough substance called calculus (aka tartar). Because it is harder than plaque, tartar can only be cleaned off with special instruments or sonic cleaners at the dental office.
Is a topical antibiotic treatment necessary in conjunction to scaling and root planing?
Scaling and root planning is the deep cleaning that is used to treat gum disease. This is how we remove the calculus and bacteria that cause gum disease. Because bacteria are involved in periodontal disease, antibiotic treatment can sometimes assist in treating it. Your dentist or periodontist will let you know if you would benefit from the use of antibiotics for your condition.
Is periodontal disease treatable?
Periodontal disease is treatable; however, the condition can do lasting damage to the gums and bone in the mouth that can sometimes result in tooth loss despite treatment. Therefore, it is always best to catch periodontal disease or any changes in gum health early.
Will my insurance cover my periodontal treatment?
Everyone’s insurance plan is different in what it does and does not cover. It is best to consult your particular insurance plan’s explanation of benefits and/or contact your insurance carrier to know about your particular coverage.
Will I need surgery?
Conservative treatment options will always be considered first; however, sometimes gum surgery is necessary, especially in the more advanced stages of the disease. This is why it is best to prevent and treat the disease in the earlier stages to hopefully be able to treat the disease non-surgically.

Here’s what one can expect from Periodontal Surgery.

If you have been referred to a periodontist to undergo some surgery, here’s what you can expect from that surgery.

Periodontal Pre-operative Care > Periodontal Surgery

Prior to surgery day:

  • If the procedure was to be preauthorized and you haven’t received any information from us or the insurance company after four to six weeks, please call our business office at (608) 274-5970.
  • If there is partial insurance coverage or no coverage, please be prepared to make payment the day of the surgery.
  • If you need to cancel, please do so seven days in advance.
  • We have a CD headset, so feel free to bring a CD to listen to during surgery.

Day of surgery:

  • Please eat as you normally would. You will not be put to sleep. We use a local anesthetic. If you will be using nitrous (a gas to help you relax) in conjunction with the anesthetic, eat at least one to two hours before the procedure. Do not overeat.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. We will be taking your blood pressure, so please wear a shirt that offers easy access to your arm.
  • Be prepared to update us of any medication or medical changes that have occurred. Herbal remedies should also be shared. If you are pregnant, please contact us so we can plan accordingly.
  • If a bone graft was mentioned as a possibility, be prepared to decide which type you wish to use: freeze-dried human donated material or synthetic man-made material. We have information on both. You may have already received pamphlets. The differences between the two types can be discussed on the day of the procedure.
  • Be prepared to take the rest of the day off after the procedure. We recommend light or no physical activities the day of the surgery. You should be able to return to work the next day. Use your best judgment on physical activities.

After surgery:

  • We will see you about one week after the procedure to remove any remaining sutures and check on tissue healing.
  • There will be no charge for follow-up visits for up to three months, so we may continue checking on the healing process. After the three months there will be a re-check fee.

Periodontal Post-operative Care > Periodontal Surgery

The operation that has been performed on your gums will help you keep your teeth. Please read these instructions carefully; our patients find them helpful.

  • When the anesthetic wears off, you may have slight discomfort. Before the anesthetic wears off, it is advisable for you to take a mild analgesic, like Tylenol or ibuprofen, for discomfort.
  • Follow a soft dietary regimen for the first week post-surgery. Sticky, harsh, hard, brittle, crumbly, spicy, or highly-seasoned foods should be avoided. The diet should be nutritive and bland. It is advisable to do most of your chewing in an area of the mouth that did not have surgery. The surgical area may be covered with a pink dressing. If it falls out, just throw it away. We will remove whatever is left when you return in a week.
  • Oral hygiene measures should be maintained in the non-operated areas of your mouth. Do not try to use a toothbrush or floss in the area where the surgery was performed.
  • Starting the night of your surgery, you may rinse. Slight bleeding or oozing is not unusual and will correct itself. If bleeding is persistent, please call the office. Do not try to stop the bleeding by rinsing. Bleeding may be controlled by taking a piece of damp gauze, holding it in the thumb and index finger, and applying firm pressure to both sides of the area. Hold it in place with pressure for twenty minutes.
  • Immediately following the procedure, apply ice wrapped in a towel on the outside of the face over the affected area. Use fifteen-minutes-on then fifteen-minutes-off to help prevent development of excessive swelling and discomfort. This should be continued for a minimum of two hours.
  • No smoking or drinking through a straw, please. Smoking delays healing. Smoking or drinking through a straw creates suction, which promotes bleeding. The longer you refrain from smoking post-surgery, the better for the healing response.
  • Relax. Healing after periodontal surgery is usually uneventful.
  • Please call the office with any questions or concerns. We are here to help you.

Periodontal Post-operative Care > Soft Tissue Grafts

  • The donor site, or palate where the graft was taken, may be uncomfortable but will heal over time. We have placed a perio packing over the wound to help protect it. This packing may fall off on the day of the surgery or several days after. Do not be concerned about this. If the donor site is sore after the packing has come off, use the topical we gave you to help with any discomfort you may have.
  • The graft site will also have a packing to help protect the graft and remind you to stay away from the area. We would like this packing to stay in place until you come in for the post-op. If it falls out before Friday, call our office in case we want to replace it.
  • Try to be gentle with the graft area when washing your face or shaving. Please check with us first before playing sports or wind instruments.
  • If the graft was placed in the front area of your mouth, do not bite into foods. Use a fork and knife and cut your food up into reasonably-sized pieces. Smaller bites will make it easier to chew.
  • Unless a prescription rinse is advised, you may use a warm salt water rinse: one teaspoon table salt added to eight ounces of warm water. Rinsing should be done gently so as not to dislodge the packing.
  • Most importantly, leave the graft area alone. Do not pull at the lip or cheek to check the graft, as this may disrupt the blood supply and interfere with the graft taking.
  • Some of the sutures (stitches) we used are dissolvable. You may notice some coming undone. Do not worry about this.

 

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