Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection that affects the gums. It’s caused by plaque that makes acids and toxins that cause the gums to become red, puffy, or bleed. Gum disease will only worsen over time if it’s not treated properly but there are treatment options.
Depending on the stage of the disease, how you’ve responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health, there are a variety of treatment options to eradicate gum disease. Nonsurgical therapies will control the bacterial growth while surgical therapies will restore the supportive tissues.
Nonsurgical treatments for periodontal disease include professional dental cleaning and scaling and root planing. For a professional dental cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar, plaque that builds up and hardens on the tooth’s surface, from the gum line. For some that show signs of periodontal disease, a dentist may recommend that they have a professional dental cleaning more than the standard twice a year.
Scaling and root planing is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure. Done under local anesthetic, the plaque and tartar build-up are scraped away, a process called scaling. Planing is where the rough spots of the tooth are made smooth by removing bacteria providing a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth.
If the dentist or periodontist finds that plaque and calculus, hardened plaque, have accumulated under the gums and is in need of removal, scaling and planing will be performed.
There are several types of surgical treatments that can be performed to remedy periodontal disease. These treatments include flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery, bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and bone surgery.
During flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery the gums are lifted back so that tartar can be removed. Occasionally, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone have to be smoothed. This will limit the hiding spaces for the disease-causing bacteria. Then the gums are placed so that the tissue will fit tightly around the tooth. This process will reduce the size and space between the gum and tooth decreasing the space where the harmful bacteria can grow. It also decreases the chances of having any serious health problems that can be associated with periodontal disease.
If it’s determined that a bone graft should be done to combat periodontal disease, the process will include using fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or a donated bone which will replace the bone that has been destroyed by the disease. The graft will serve as a platform to regrow the bone and restore stability to the teeth. Now there is new technology called tissue engineering that encourages the body to regenerate the bone and the tissue at an accelerated rate.
Using a soft tissue graft, thin gums can be reinforced or places where gums have receded can be filled in. The tissue is usually taken from the roof of the mouth and stitched into place to add tissue to the affected area.
When the bone that supports the teeth has been destroyed, it might be determined that you need guided tissue regeneration. This process is combined with flap surgery to stimulate the growth of the bone and gum tissue. During the process, a small piece of fabric resembling mesh is inserted between the bone and the gum tissue. This will ensure that the gum tissue isn’t growing where the bone should be and allow the bone and connective tissue to grow so the teeth are better supported.
During the process of bone surgery, shallow craters in the bone that have been caused by moderate and advanced bone loss will be smoothed. Following the completion of flap surgery, the bone around the tooth will be reshaped with the purpose of decreasing the craters. A successful procedure will make it more difficult for any bacteria that causes further disease to collect and grow.
Whether you need a nonsurgical or surgical procedure is based on a determination by the dentist or periodontist. Surgical procedures only occur if necessary. They are typically needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be replaced with nonsurgical procedures. Otherwise, nonsurgical treatment will be used. If you have more questions regarding nonsurgical and surgical options for treating periodontal disease, contact Vero Implants and Periodontics.