What you should know about gum disease and deep cleaning

Have you experienced irritation, soreness, or bleeding in your gums? Likely a gradual occurrence, each of these conditions is a sign you could have gum disease. Our gums are incredibly strong elements of our overall body systems and of course they are responsible for holding our teeth in place. We most assuredly do not want them to succumb to adverse conditions or fail altogether.

But due to bad habits or unfortunate circumstance, gum disease can take hold and wreak havoc on oral health. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and genetics can all have an influence on gum condition and lax or irregular oral care is an invitation to unwanted dental issues.

What is gum disease?

Periodontal disease, also referred to as gum recession and gum disease, is an infection of the tissue that secures your teeth in place. When an infection takes hold, it steadily devolves into a wearing away of gum tissue which exposes the tooth’s root. An exposed root is vulnerable to increased sensitivity to hot and cold, and to the invasion of bacteria setting up and initiating another level of problems.

Unfortunately, gum disease is very difficult to detect until you experience gum soreness, bleeding, or loss of teeth. Alarmingly, gum disease affects three of every four U.S. adults and if not treated, can lead to debilitating damage to surrounding bone tissue. This is not a condition to be taken lightly or brushed off for later and although it is very serious, gum disease is preventable and very treatable.

Signs of gum disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth appear to be getting longer
  • Pain when chewing

Proactive measures to stay aware of these conditions start with a regular dental check- up twice a year. Your dentist will remove excess plaque, clean and polish the teeth, and use a probe check the healthiness of the gums. If the gums have pulled away or have pockets or are bleeding, it is critical to eliminate the bacteria to alleviate future bone and tooth loss. Your dentist might also suggest a periodontist-performed gingival graft to prevent further issues.

What can you do about it?

The most effective way to address gum disease is to schedule a deep cleaning (also known as a prophylaxis) which consists of three steps: scaling, root planning, and follow-up care.


In this step, your dentist or a hygienist removes plaque and tartar, which is an unsavory yellow-brown liquid that builds up at the gum surface and underneath them. It is very difficult to reach some critical areas like these and that’s where scaling comes in, followed by diligent brushing and flossing to encourage gum pocket healing and heathy teeth.

Root planing

This is another term that sounds ominous and painful. In fact, just the thought of taking sharp dental instruments or lasers to the roots of your teeth can send shivers down your spine. However, this is a critical step in smoothing rough areas of a tooth and cleaning out all traces of invading bacteria.

Keep in mind that deep cleaning is not without risks. Fillings could pop out or the gums could be irreversibly damaged. There is also risk of an abscess or sensitivity after the procedure.

Follow-up care

Care procedures after a deep cleaning involve a prescription for antibiotics to combat infection, as well as pain relievers to help offer relief from pain in the mouth and surrounding facial structure. In general, you will need to stay aware of what you eat and how you brush your teeth to go easy on sensitive gums.

You should skip out on smoking and drinking, and don’t eat spicy foods or those that are tough to chew, and always avoid putting a great deal of bite pressure on your teeth. It is a good idea to wait a day or two before flossing and you should be very careful with brushing (think gently thorough) until your gums have fully healed.

Moving forward, the best way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss at least twice a day and schedule dental check-ups twice a year.

For more information on gum disease and deep cleaning, contact Pasadena Periodontics at (626) 360-3856 or pasadenaperiodontics.com.

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