Periodontal Therapy for Gum Disease
Six Month Cleanings
Gum disease is not a minor thing. An interval to see the dentist for cleaning and fillings every six months is ONLY appropriate for completely healthy people. Perhaps 15% of the population. The code on the ledger or submitted to a dental plan (some incorrectly use the term “dental insurance”) is for a prophylaxis (a dental prophy). This term literally MEANS to prevent. Once diseased, a person must treat. The courts have already determined that patients are not qualified to waive the standard of care, so merely telling a patient their condition and then signing a form of informed consent is not legal or appropriate.
“Gum disease, or the disorder affecting the tissues supporting teeth (gums and bone), is very common. Yet, many people fail to properly or completely treat this disorder and can contribute to significant systemic (entire body) disorders, even leading to death! Some dental offices, in an effort to see more volumes of people, perform supervised neglect, having people come every six months for a “cleaning” yet ignore the signs and symptoms of this deadly condition, when the patient should be seem much more frequently.”
—Dr. Lance Timmerman
Dental offices use what is called a periodontal probe to measure the pockets around the teeth. There is ALWAYS a pocket, there is never a depth of zero. Normal and healthy numbers are 2-3 mm, the depth that bristles of tooth brushes can completely reach to keep things clean. If a 4 is discovered, then inflammation is present, and a depth of 5 mm or more means irreversible bone loss.
Once bone is lost around a tooth, it can never come back and our efforts are merely to control or maintain the disease.
Screening for Gum Disease
Dr Timmerman uses all available tools to determine your periodontal condition:
- Periodontal probe
- Radiographic survey
- OralDNA tests for high risk patients
- DSLR and intraoral cameras
Only after proper screening is ones periodontal status fully understood.
Some people assume, and some dental offices even say, that gum disease is from not brushing or from tartar (calculus) buildup. This is not true. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection and must be treated as such. This includes OralDNA testing to determine WHICH bacterium is present, what levels, and what methods to treat are most appropriate.
It takes the bacteria 12 weeks to gather together in large enough amounts to destroy bone. If you can be seen every 3 months, you can prevent further bone loss, but more importantly you are controlling the amount of bacteria present. This can literally save your life.