Subgingival irrigation has many different common names: gum flushing, oral irrigation, or pocket irrigation are a few. At home, dental patients use oral irrigators or water flossers when they turn on their Waterpik or electric toothbrushes that include water jet sprays for cleaning the teeth and gums. In the office of the Sacramento Dentistry Group, subgingival irrigation uses professional instruments that are even better at removing plaque and reducing the amount of bacteria hiding underneath the gums.
Why Perform Subgingival Irrigation?
Subgingival means “underneath the gums.” Ideally, the gums are tightly attached to the teeth, without a lot of room underneath them. Yet, even the best gums usually have a small pocket of loose tissue surrounding the tooth. As long as the pocket is relatively tiny, the attachment of the tooth to the jaw is secure. Skip brushing, flossing and in-office dental cleanings, however, and larger pockets result. That’s because bacteria, plaque and tartar move farther down the tooth as they invade the gum pocket. Irritating the tissues at the border between gum and tooth, they push the pocket depth further and further and make the subgingival gap between tooth and gum wider and wider. With time, this bacterial attack known as periodontal disease loosens the roots from the jaw and may even lead to root decay and loss of the tooth.
Subgingival irrigators directly attack these bacteria. A saline solution or stronger anti-bacterial substances are applied with very fine spray tips that fit beneath the gums and directly into the gum pockets. This reduces the number of subgingival bacteria and promotes healing and cleaning underneath the gums.
Subgingival irrigation is a treatment usually employed with other forms of dental cleaning. Studies show that while it is effective in certain areas of gum disease therapy, other methods are also needed to address all the problems that lead to large gum pockets. On the plus side, after receiving professional oral irrigation, patients can continue the process with treatment at home using readily available devices.
The Sacramento Dentistry Group wants to do everything possible to guarantee the health of your teeth. Subgingival irrigation is one way to accomplish this goal. For more information, contact us online or by calling our staff during regular office hours.