Periodontal disease damages the surrounding soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. It is predominantly caused by the accumulation of bacteria, mucus and other particles in the form of plaque or tartar that sit between the gums. Periodontal disease can range in severity from a simple gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, to a more serious inflammation of the periodontal tissues. Left untreated periodontal disease can result in significant tissue damage and eventual tooth loss, if left untreated.
The progression of periodontal disease is often times painless. As a result, the affected individual may not be aware of an ongoing disease process. This is why it is so important to recognize the signs of the earliest stages of periodontal disease, which is gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis typically include red, swollen and bleeding gums. Treatment instituted at this point is often sufficient to reverse the course of the disease and to avoid any permanent damage to the periodontal tissues. A series of deep dental cleanings, an improved home care regimen, and a commitment to regular maintenance may be all that is required to prevent this stage of periodontal disease from progressing.
Gingivitis can escalate into periodontitis, if left untreated. However, there are other factors that can contribute to the escalation of periodontal disease, including smoking, genetic tendencies, and unchecked diabetes. In either case, when periodontal disease has progressed to a more advanced stage there is usually clinical and radiographic evidence of damage to the bone and soft tissues supporting the teeth. Periodontal treatment in this phase is designed to halt the progression of the disease and to restore tooth support as possible. This may involve medications to control the bacteria and reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and gums, gum surgery, as well as bone and tissue grafts.
Gum Disease Treatment Options
Scaling and Root Planing:
Sometimes gum disease is too advance to be treated with a simple cleaning. During Scaling and Root Planing, the area is anesthetized, special tools are used to go below the gum line to reach the trapped plaque and bacteria causing continuous bone loss and inflammation. The procedure requires two visits to ensure that all sings of infection are gone. Following the completion of this procedure, patients usually feel an improved result with their gum health and a reduction of chronic bad breath.
Scaling and root planing, the dentist may also recommend a localized antibiotic therapy to reach deeper in the pocket to further eliminate bacteria and encourage regrowth of the lost gum tissue. This therapy takes a few minutes to apply and continues to work for a month following treatment even after you leave the office.
Soft Tissue Laser:
Laser treatment is now considered state of the art treatment for gingival tissues. The use of soft tissue laser allows for accuracy and eliminates post-operative pain, bleeding and the need for sutures. Laser therapy can be done for a variety of reasons including removal of infected tissue, gingival recontouring, or around gingival tissues after a crown preparation is done and before taking the final impression.