While the vast majority of patients understand the dangers caries pose to their oral health, there’s less understanding of periodontal disease – a condition that affects the gums.
You can think of periodontitis as a more serious and entrenched form of gingivitis. While the latter tends to affect only the superficial gum tissues, periodontitis goes deeper and can damage the roots of teeth, and even the jawbone. Furthermore, the inflammation it produces is systemic, meaning that it can lead to serious health issues elsewhere in the body, including the heart.
Fortunately, periodontal therapy can help. The goal of these treatments is to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and return your mouth to normality.
Periodontal Therapy Procedures
Periodontal therapy isn’t a single procedure. Instead, it’s a bundle of interventions, both surgical and non-surgical, that aim to address the underlying cause of the periodontal disease.
Pocket Reduction Procedures
During the course of periodontal infections, the gum can develop “pockets” – small flaps of gum that pull away from the teeth.
Pockets are problematic because food can become trapped inside them easily, leading to further infections and preventing healing. Pocket reduction surgery seeks to reduce or eliminate the size of the gap between tooth and gum, preventing recurrence.
Gum grafting is a procedure that involves taking tissue from one part of the mouth and surgically implanting them in another. Typically, dentists will use gum grafting to extend gums in patients with severe recession, but it can also be a powerful tool in the fight against periodontal disease. Gum grafts can extend the reach of the gum, allowing it to create a tighter collar around the tooth, preventing future bacterial infiltration.
Ridge augmentation is a technique that helps to reverse depressions in the gum line resulting from trauma, tooth loss, and decay. The soft tissue version of the procedure takes tissues from other parts of the mouth, similar to a gum graft, and stitches them in the target location. The synthetic version uses grafts which act as scaffolds, encouraging the regrowth of the surrounding tissue.
Crown lengthening surgery is a popular procedure that involves reducing the area of the crown covered by gum and bone tissue. Patients get it to make their smiles appear more symmetrical or less gummy or to help with the fitting and securing of new dental crowns.
Periodontal Laser Treatments
Periodontal laser treatments are a range of therapies that use non-surgical laser-based techniques to excise infected tissue and restore your gum line to health. They involve pointing a beam of light at the affected tissue (including below the gum line), sweeping out bacteria, and creating a barrier between healthy and diseased tissue. The benefits are improved healing times and less gum shrinkage compared to traditional therapies.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing use dental instruments to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline. We use both ultrasonic instruments and hand scalers to get rid of calculus and remove bacterial buildup, providing the gum with an opportunity to heal.
Periodontal Cosmetic Surgery
Periodontal cosmetic surgery involves any treatment to enhance the appearance of the gums and surrounding tissue. Examples include many of the techniques listed here, including gum grafts and crown lengthening.
What Are The Benefits Of Periodontal Therapy?
Periodontal therapy offers a set of potent techniques. But what are the specific benefits?
A More Beautiful Smile
When it comes to beautiful smiles, the vast majority of people focus on the teeth. However, gums matter too. If you have indentations or depressions in your gum line or an undesirable tooth-to-gum ratio, then it can make you feel self-conscious. Periodontal therapy deals with these issues, restoring balance to your aesthetic.
Periodontal disease is not only incredibly painful, but it can also lead to bad breath. Bacteria beneath the surface of the gum continually churn out foul-smelling sulfurous compounds. And because they make their home below the gum line, you can’t sweep them out by cleaning your teeth.
Periodontal therapy deals with halitosis (or bad breath) by removing bacterial buildup below the gumline and preventing it from recurring in the future. Scaling and root planing combined with excellent oral hygiene foster natural healing.
Once you’ve had a periodontal infection, it can be hard to forget. The gum will often swell, and it will ache terribly. In some cases, over-the-counter painkillers are not effective.
If you have an active infection, we will take a two-pronged approach. First, we prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection. Then we consult with you about the best approach you can take to prevent the disease from recurring in the future.
Removal Of Plaque And Tartar Beneath The Gumline
Regular brushing removes plaque and tartar from teeth above the gum line, but it can’t address issues around the roots. Because of that, once periodontitis begins, it seldom resolves on its own.
Periodontal therapies address the cause of periodontitis by removing bacteria and their waste products below the gumline. Scaling uses physical tools to remove any calculus from the surface of teeth, leaving them healthy.
Identify Health Problems
Lastly, periodontal conditions can sometimes reveal important information about your overall state of health. It could be an early warning sign of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Schedule An Appointment
If you have a problem with your gums, then schedule an appointment for periodontal therapy with Dr. Kevin F. Postol today. He has more than a quarter-century of experience and can help keep your mouth healthier for longer. Contact us today!