Periodontics – Lake Forest, CA


Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, can lead to more than just an unsightly smile—it can cause loss of teeth & eventually, if left untreated, other more serious health problems. Called gingivitis in its early stages, periodontal disease is caused by excessive toxic bacteria (found in plaque) that attack your mouth’s soft tissues. Early warning signs of this disease include red, swollen or bleeding gums. If caught early, we can help you reverse the damage. If detected late, we can use one of the many effective restorative dentistry procedures to restore your mouth to its healthy & beautiful state. We can help you keep your teeth & gums strong & disease-free with regular examinations & cleanings plus specialized interventions to treat periodontal disease if needed.

If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, we will recommend that you come in for a deep cleaning. While it may sound like just a more intense teeth cleaning, deep cleanings are actually the gold standard of treatment for patients diagnosed with gum disease. This procedure is also sometimes referred to as “scaling & root planing” or “periodontal therapy”.

In periodontal disease, swollen unhealthy gums start to pull away from the teeth because of pockets where infection-causing plaque & tartar accumulate. During a deep cleaning, the dentist or hygienist removes plaque, tartar & bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth & tooth roots. The dentist or hygienist then smoothes the surface of the tooth root to make it harder for bacteria to stick in the future & easier for the gums to re-attach.

While deep cleanings cannot cure periodontal disease, it can slow or stop its progression. Deep cleanings can reduce the need for surgical intervention in the future & often helps swollen bleeding gums become healthy & pink again.

If you have gum disease, we may recommend that deep cleanings, along with periodontal maintenance checkups, become part of your routine dental visits.

Management of periodontal disease also involves a variety of other treatments in addition to deep cleanings. Periodontal therapy involves the enhancement of the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place. Diseased tissue must be replaced with healthy tissue whenever possible. If gum disease has caused severe gum recession, gum grafting may be necessary to move gum tissue back into place so that tooth roots are no longer exposed. We will also tackle the bacterial infection in your tissues directly by applying topical antibacterial or antibiotic solutions, either on their own or in conjunction with the treatment already mentioned.

Patients with very advanced or complicated periodontal disease may need to see a specialist. A periodontist is a dentist who works almost exclusively in the treatment of gingivitis, periodontal disease, & other afflictions of the mouth’s soft tissues. A periodontist is a fully trained dentist who completes additional specialized training in the field of periodontics after completing a general dental degree. While all dentists are trained to treat periodontal disease, this additional training makes a periodontist an expert in gum disease, its risk factors, & the symptoms & conditions that come with this dental disease. If you have been diagnosed with advanced gum disease, a periodontist may become a central part of your routine dental care & will work with us to create a treatment plan to keep your condition from getting worse.

Periodontist on Staff

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gingivitis & gum disease, also known as periodontitis. A periodontist is a fully trained dentist who completes additional specialized training in the field of periodontics after completing a general dental degree. This additional training makes a periodontist an expert in gum disease, its risk factors, & the symptoms & conditions that come with this dental disease. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, a periodontist will become a central part of your routine dental care & will work with your dentist to create a treatment plan to keep your condition from getting worse. At Lifetime Dental, we are proud to have a periodontist on staff so patients don’t have to be referred out for their treatment.

Scaling & Root Planing

Scaling & root planing is the gold standard of treatment for patients diagnosed with gum disease (i.e. periodontitis). This procedure is sometimes referred to as “deep cleaning” or simply “periodontal therapy”. If you have periodontitis that is at risk of getting worse, the dentist may recommend scaling & root planing to keep your gum disease from advancing. However, you should know that this is not a procedure that you can just undergo once then forget about it. We may recommend that you continue to coming in for scaling & root planing as necessary to keep your mouth as healthy as possible despite your condition.

In periodontal disease, swollen unhealthy gums start to pull away from the teeth because of pockets where infection-causing plaque & tartar accumulate. During a scaling part of the treatment, the dentist or hygienist removes plaque, tartar & bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth & tooth roots. This is done with either hand tools or electronic instruments, or a combination of both.

The handheld instruments used are a scaler & a curette. Both of these tools look a little like a metal chopstick with a sharp, curved tip. You’ve seen them before if you’ve had a regular dental cleaning. By gently scraping the tool along your tooth below the gum line, the dentist can find areas of tartar & plaque buildup.

Electronic scalers use ultrasonic vibration to remove plaque & tartar. The vibrating metal tip of the tool can chip away tartar & an accompanying water spray washes away the debris as it’s removed. This water spray also keeps the tip of the tool nice & cool.

In the root planing part of the treatment, the dentist or hygienist smoothes the surface of the tooth root to make it harder for bacteria to stick in the future & easier for the gums to re-attach. This is done with the same tools mentioned above but with a focus on making rough spots smooth again. Once the root planing is finished, the dentist may apply a disinfectant or antibiotics to further discourage the return of bacteria.

If you’ve ever been poked in the gums by accident, you know how sensitive they can be, especially if they’re already swollen from periodontitis. Before starting the scaling & root planing treatment we will numb your gums so that you won’t have any pain or discomfort while we’re working. Typically, only one or two quadrants of a patient’s mouth are treated at a time. That way we only need to numb one side of the mouth, so you’ll still be able to eat & drink fairly normally following your appointment as the anesthesia starts to fade.

While scaling & root planing cannot cure periodontal disease, it can slow or stop its progression. The point of this procedure is to remove the bacteria-filled plaque & tartar that inflame your gums & the surrounding bone. Scaling & root planing can reduce the need for surgical intervention in the future & often helps swollen bleeding gums become healthy & pink again.

If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend that scaling & root planing, along with periodontal maintenance checkups, become part of your routine dental visits, just like your cleanings & exams.