Gum Disease Treatment
Gum Disease (Periodontal disease) requires ongoing treatment to treat the disease and prevent a recurrence. Gum Disease Treatments vary depending on the stage of the Gum (periodontal) disease. Early diagnosis facilitates treatment by simple periodontal therapy. Once the disease has progressed, bone loss occurs and deep periodontal pockets form. At this stage, surgical therapy may be required. Once the periodontal disease is under control, ongoing treatments are needed to maintain good oral health.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and surrounding tissues. It infects the gums and destroys the supporting bone that holds the teeth in place. Teeth may loosen and moveor fall out as a result.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that form a sticky plaque on the teeth. When left untreated, the plaque infects the gums and inflames the tissue. Over time the underlying bone and tissues supporting the teeth are destroyed. The teeth separate from the gums, forming pockets that fill with more plaque and accelerate the disease process.
Who is Susceptible to Periodontal Disease?
Everyone is susceptible to periodontal disease, but certain habits and practices increase your chances of periodontal problems. Poor oral hygiene practices, smoking and drug or alcohol abuse increase your chances of having poor periodontal health. Poor nutrition and a stressful lifestyle decrease your body’s immune response and make you more susceptible to periodontal disease.
People suffering from certain diseases, such as diabetes, HIV infection, leukemia, and malnutrition or persons taking certain medications can also be more susceptible to periodontal problems. Any disease or medication that affects the hormones or lowers the immune response can increase the chances of periodontal disease. Inform your dentist of any medications you are taking, including contraceptives, antidepressants and heart medications.
Hormonal fluctuations, especially during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can cause tissue changes that increase the chances of periodontal disease. Usually, your physician will recommend a dental appointment at these times. Do not count on your general physician to pick up periodontal problems. Be proactive and see your dentist during these crucial times.
Periodontal disease requires ongoing treatment to treat the disease and prevent a recurrence. Treatments vary depending on the stage of the periodontal disease. Early diagnosis facilitates treatment by simple periodontal therapy. Once the disease has progressed, bone loss occurs and deep periodontal pockets form. At this stage, surgical therapy may be required. Once the periodontal disease is under control, ongoing treatments are needed to maintain good oral health.
Periodontal Therapy Procedures
Periodontal therapy includes both surgical and non-surgical techniques to restore health to the tissues that support the teeth (gums and bone) and prevent tooth loss. They include:
- Scaling and Root Planing. These deep-cleaning techniques are the best starting point to control gum disease. Plaque and calculus (tartar) are removed from beneath the gum tissues, using hand scalers and/or ultrasonic instruments.
- Gum Grafting. Sometimes it’s necessary to replace areas of lost gum tissue so that tooth roots are adequately protected. This can be accomplished by taking healthy gum tissue from one area of the mouth and moving it to where it is needed, or by using laboratory-processed donor tissue.
- Periodontal Plastic Surgery. When used to describe surgery, the word “plastic” refers to any reshaping procedure that creates a more pleasing appearance of the gum tissues.
- Periodontal Laser Treatment. Removing diseased gum tissue with lasers can offer significant advantages over conventional surgery, such as less discomfort and gum shrinkage.
- Crown Lengthening Surgery. This is a surgical procedure in which tooth structure that is covered by gum and bone tissue may need to be exposed either for cosmetic reasons (too make the teeth look longer and the smile less gummy) or to aid in securing a new dental crown.
- Dental Implants. Today’s preferred method of tooth replacement is a titanium dental implant, which is placed beneath the gum line and into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. The implant is then attached to a realistic-looking dental crown that is visible above the gum line and indistinguishable from a natural tooth.
Your Role in Periodontal Health
Dental plaque is the main cause of periodontal disease, so it’s essential to remove it every day with effective brushing and flossing. This doesn’t mean scrubbing, which can actually cause your gums to recede. Proper techniques can be demonstrated for you, if you have any questions.
Of course, there are some areas of the mouth that a toothbrush and floss just can’t reach, which is why it’s so important to have regular professional cleanings at the dental office. Your regular dental exam is also a time when early signs of gum disease can be detected — before they become apparent even to you.
Eating a nutritious diet low in sugar, and staying away from tobacco in all forms, will also increase your periodontal health — and your chances of keeping your teeth for life.