Patients who have experienced a loss of bone support around teeth we call “gum” or periodontal disease, require a more aggressive cleaning. This loss of bone is asymptomatic, much like high blood pressure, you would only be aware of it if a dentist was looking for the bone loss. X-rays can show bone loss, but diagnosing periodontal disease frequently requires measurement of the space between the tooth and the gums that we call a periodontal pocket. The depth of the pockets guide the dentist in determining the best treatment.
Periodontal Cleanings include treatment of gum disease by thorough removal of tarter deposits below the gum line. Patients that have experienced bone loss with resulting pocketing of the gums around the teeth require more than a regular cleaning. Tarter or Calculus, is mineralized plaque that is just full of bacteria. In fact, because of the volume of bacteria, the tarter acts like a low grade infection of the gums. Deposits of Tarter that exist in these pockets (which are deeper under the gums) requires more aggressive cleaning, usually with anesthetic. If left untreated, tarter under the gumline results in inflammation, bone loss, infection, swelling, loosening of teeth, and eventual tooth/teeth loss. Because the cause of periodontal disease is tarter and plaque at or under the gum line, elimination of tarter can halt the progress of the disease.
Dr McGhee can discuss this process, as well as other potential causes of bone loss, such as trauma or acute infections, during your visit.