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Periodontal Therapy: How a Dentist Can Prevent Periodontal Disease

Woman in dental chair having general dentistry done to prevent periodontal disease

When you hear the term, “common disease,” you probably think of cancer or diabetes. But periodontal disease is more common than both of those. 

47 percent of adults aged 30 or older have periodontal disease. That includes 70 percent of adults aged 65 and older. 

Many people have periodontal disease and see no major problems. But it can cause pain, tooth decay, and gum irritation. If you suffer from it, you should get periodontal therapy right away. 

Yet many people delay treatment because they don’t know what a dentist can do for them. Understand how therapy works and you can have great teeth today. Here is your guide. 

What Is Periodontal Disease? 

Periodontal disease is the disease of the gums. Bacteria gets on or in the gums, causing an inflammatory response in the tissue. 

The disease is progressive, occurring in four stages. In the first stage, plaque and tartar build on the teeth. Bacteria feed off of the plaque, which can eventually harden. 

In the second stage, gingivitis develops. The gums become red and swollen, but the plaque can be removed. 

In the third stage, periodontal disease sets in. The gums start to pull away from the teeth, forming small pockets. Plaque and bacteria settle into the pockets and reach to the roots of teeth. 

The fourth stage sees infection of supporting gums and tissues. The dental structure that supports teeth fails. Teeth can fall out and the jaws can become compromised. 

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

It can be hard to notice periodontal disease in its earliest stages. You may not feel any pain at all. 

But you may notice that your gums are inflamed. They may appear red when you look at them in the mirror. They may feel swollen or tough to touch. 

When you brush or floss them, they may start to bleed. After you brush your teeth, you may notice that you have bad breath. This comes from bacteria remaining in your gums. 

In its advanced stages, you may notice your gums pulling away from your teeth. You may also see pus forming in the pockets. Your teeth may become loose or sensitive to the touch, especially when you drink a hot or cold beverage. 

If you notice advanced signs of periodontal disease, you should get treatment immediately. Bacteria is attacking the bone structures of your mouth. You need supervision in order to kill that bacteria. 


The main cause of the disease is plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky and white film that forms on teeth. It is made of bacteria and other microbes surrounded by a layer of polymer. 

Plaque forms when bacteria interact with sugars and carbohydrates. It sticks to the teeth close to the gumline.

Tartar is a variant of plaque. It appears when plaque accumulates minerals and hardens together. Tartar can cause gum disease just as plaque on its own can.

Smoking can greatly exacerbate gum disease. It weakens the body’s immune system, making it harder to fight off a bacterial infection. Smoke can irritate the gums, causing worse inflammation. 

Some medications can trigger gum disease. Immunosuppressant pills diminish the immune system, allowing bacteria to spread in the mouth. Blood pressure drugs can swell the gums by dilating blood vessels. 

What Is Periodontal Therapy? 

Oral hygiene: Scaling and root planing (conventional periodontal therapy). Medically accurate 3D illustration of human teeth treatment

Periodontal therapy treats the disease at its roots. One common procedure is deep dental cleaning. 

Regular cleaning removes plaque that has gathered on the surfaces of the teeth. It occurs entirely above the gum line. 

Deep cleaning reaches below the gumline. Doctors administer a local anesthetic so the gums are numb.

They remove tartar on the tooth surfaces, and then go into the roots of the teeth in a process called scaling. In root planing, they take out the infected tooth structure and smooth over the healthy roots. 

Deep cleaning takes place over multiple visits, each of which can take some time. But it prevents the decay and removal of teeth. A patient can take antibiotics in order to kill bacteria. 

Therapy is not for everyone. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream, causing dangerous infections elsewhere in the body. If the dentist believes a patient may suffer from this, they will not perform deep cleaning. 

Therapy does not produce a complete cure. A patient must go home and practice good dental hygiene. This keeps bacteria from forming and spreading. 

How You Can Help Your Periodontal Disease Treatment

You can help treat your periodontal disease with some basic steps. Practicing basic hygiene techniques is usually enough to stop any disease from occurring. 

Brush all of your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. Use circular strokes that cover all surfaces of each tooth. Put your brush at a 45-degree angle to all surfaces. 

You should also floss your teeth. Flossing removes plaque that is wedged between your teeth, especially in the corners of your mouth. Use waxed floss to glide between your teeth easier. 

Avoid eating and drinking sugary substances. When you do eat something sweet, brush your teeth afterward. Drink plenty of water to wash any sugar that is stuck in your mouth. 

Visit your dentist once every six months. If you notice any problems, report them. Through a routine appointment, a dentist can notice signs of gum disease.

Getting Expert Periodontal Therapy 

Periodontal disease is not a minor condition. Bacteria can build on top of your teeth, then slip inside your gums. With enough time, it can uproot your teeth. 

You may notice subtle symptoms like swelling and red gums. When you do, go to a dentist and get periodontal therapy. 

They may perform a deep cleaning, removing hard-to-reach plaque. You should accompany that cleaning with good brushing. Brush and floss every day and avoid sugary foods. 

Turn to expert dentists when you need help. Lexington Family Smiles serves the Columbia, South Carolina area. Request an appointment with us today.