The tissue surrounding each tooth is called the periodontium. This consists of gum tissue, ligaments and bone. When inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) progresses, it can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is when the bone that anchors each tooth starts to recede.. If this condition is not treated, it can lead to tooth mobility and tooth loss. One way to treat this disease is to perform scaling and root planing where we go below the gum line and remove the bacteria that causes periodontitis as well as any tartar that is stuck to the tooth or root surface. In some cases, gum surgery will be necessary.
What is tartar? It is hardened dental plaque also known as calculus. I like to make the analogy that calculus on teeth is like barnacles on the bottom of a boat. The only way to remove both is to scrape, scrape, scrape. For this reason, I loved it when I saw this commercial for Listerine on TV recently.
A lot of my patients don’t realize the importance of oral health and the relationship of periodontitis to the rest of the body. If you’ve got heart disease, diabetes or have had a premature birth, they could very well be linked to existing periodontal disease. See this link for more details.