If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, you have a variety of treatment options, depending on your situation. We provide non-surgical treatments, such as deep cleanings, and occasionally recommend antibiotics, either placed in your mouth, or taken as a prescription. For more involved cases, we may refer you to a periodontist.
The first line of defense against gum disease is a unique type of cleaning called “scaling and root planing,” also referred to as a deep cleaning. In this procedure, an ultrasonic cleaning device is used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth where regular cleaning devices can’t reach: under the gum line, on the tooth, and around the root.
Then the rough surface of the tooth and the root are smoothed out (planed). This provides a healthy, clean surface that makes it easier for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth.
If you address your gum disease before it becomes severe, scaling and root planing may be the only treatment you need. However, as with any dental procedure, home care is vital. In order to keep your teeth in good shape and resist future occurrences of gum disease, you must brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet, avoid tobacco use, and schedule regular dental checkups.
Surgical Treatment Options
If the tissue or bone surrounding your teeth is too extensive to treat with non-surgical treatment, we may refer you to a periodontist, or gum specialist. He or she may recommend surgery or other treatment.
The following is a list of common types of periodontal surgery:
Pocket Depth Reduction
In a healthy mouth, the teeth are firmly surrounded by gum tissue and securely supported by the bones of the jaw. Periodontal disease damages these tissues and bones, and leaves open spaces around the teeth that we call pockets. The larger these pockets are, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, which can lead to more and more damage over time. Eventually, the supportive structure degrades to the point where the tooth either falls out or needs to be removed.
During pocket reduction procedures (also known as “flap surgery”), we fold back the gum tissue and remove the bacteria hiding underneath, as well as the hardened plaque and tartar that have collected. We may also remove any tissue that is too damaged to survive. We then sew the healthy tissue back into place. Now that the tooth and root are free of bacteria, plaque, and tartar, and the pockets have been reduced, the gums can reattach to the teeth.
When the bone and tissue that support the teeth have been lost due to severe gum disease, we can restore these areas with a regeneration procedure. During this process, we begin by folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Depending on your situation, we may perform a bone graft to stimulate new bone growth, or we may apply a special kind of protein that stimulates tissue growth to repair the areas that have been destroyed by the disease.
A frequent symptom of gum disease is gum recession (also called gingival recession). As the gums recede, more of the roots are revealed. This can make teeth appear longer and can also create sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or food. It also exposes the tooth to increased damage from gum disease, when bacteria, plaque, and tartar attack the surface of the tooth and the root.
During a soft-tissue graft, tissue from the top of your mouth or another source is attached to the gum area, to cover the roots and restore the gum line to its original, healthy location. This procedure can also be performed for cosmetic reasons.