Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is an infection of the gums and bone that holds your teeth in place. Periodontal disease is caused by a sticky film called plaque, which contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins. The toxins can irritate and inflame the gum tissue. Inflammed gums can pull away from the teeth forming spaces called pockets. If periodontal problems are not treated, they can become severe and lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is often painless, so you may not be aware that you have a problem until the damage is already done to your gums and bone.
If periodontal disease is detected you will need a procedure called scaling and root planing. This is performed over several visits and the hygienist will carefully remove plaque and tartar from the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth's root surface will be smoothed, or planed to remove toxins and allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.
Once periodontal disease is brought under control it is important to have deeper cleanings called periodontal maintenance. This procedure is performed 3-4 times per year and is necessary to reduce your bacteria level and monitor the health of your gums.