Gingivitis is a condition that affects the soft tissue (gingiva or gums) that support the teeth. In this process, bacteria irritate the gingiva and cause inflammation. The result is swollen and inflamed gum tissue that bleeds easily and can be sore or painful. If the condition is left untreated it can progress to recession of the gums or a more advanced stage of dental gum infection called periodontitis.
Regular dental cleanings (prophy or prophylaxis) can drastically reduce the occurrence of gingivitis. Also, your hygienist will give you advice on home care to keep gingivitis away between dental appointments.
Periodontitis is an advanced disease of the supporting hard and soft tissues around the tooth. Without routine professional cleanings, bacteria are able to grow around the tooth and then move under the gum tissue. Once this happens, bacteria have access to the supporting bone and ligaments that attach the tooth to the bone.
Over time, the bone and periodontal ligaments are destroyed by the bacteria and the teeth will become loose, infected, and painful. The periodontal status goes from mild to moderate to severe periodontitis; and without care, such as scaling and root planning (SRP or deep cleaning); you will lose the infected teeth.
A dental prophylaxis or prophy is a process by which a dentist or certified hygienist cleans your teeth. We are accessing areas that you are unable to keep clean on your own. Everyone is different and some people need more frequent cleanings, but the average recommended amount of time between cleanings (or prophy) is about 6 months.
The purpose of the dental prophylaxis is to clean the debris, calculus, bacteria, biofilm and stain off of supragingival (visible tooth) surfaces. When surfaces need to be cleaned below the gum line, that is called scaling and root planning or deep cleaning.
Scaling and root planning are necessary when bacteria, inflammation, infection, calculus and debris are below the gingiva (gums) and require more advanced techniques to get the teeth and supporting structures clean. Gum tissue is carefully evaluated to determine your level of disease and corresponding treatment.
Chlorhexedine (CHX) is a mouth rinse that will accompany your scaling and root planning. It is a mouth rinse medicine that kills and impedes the growth of bacteria. CHX, In combination with SRP or deep cleaning, will greatly increase your chances of successful treatment.
Arestin is an antibiotic that is placed locally into deep pockets of periodontal infection that are not resolving with routine scaling and root planning (SRP or deep cleaning). This antibiotic is a slow continuous release medication that kills local bacteria and initiates increased immune response to local bacteria causing the infection.