Periodontal Treatment

When you visit your dentist, you expect them to examine your teeth and look for signs of tooth decay.  However, you may not consider how important it is that your gums are healthy as well. The fact is that healthy gums keep germs from attacking the root fibers and bone that hold your teeth in place, so avoiding gum disease is essential to your overall oral health.

Sadly, gum disease is a common dental issue that isn’t painful initially, so it may go unnoticed. .

Gum Disease and Its Stages

When plaque builds up along your gumline, the bacteria it contains can cause an infection in your gums. If your gums become red, swollen, or inflamed, and they bleed easily, you may have the earliest form of gum disease, known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible with a thorough dental cleaning and proper oral hygiene at home.

If your gum disease is left untreated and worsens, it can develop into periodontitis. This advanced form of gum disease can affect the bones that hold your teeth in place.

The final stage of gum disease is known as advanced periodontitis. At this stage, there is damage to the bones that support your teeth, and you could risk tooth loss. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have periodontitis:

  • Consistently bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Bleeding gums


Treatment Options

If you've been diagnosed with gum disease, there are a variety of treatment options depending on the details of your situation and the severity of the problem. We always start with the least invasive options, which are non-surgical. However, in more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.

Non-Surgical Treatment

The first line of defense against gum disease is a unique type of cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” 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, after-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 have regular dental checkups. Even after a successful scaling and root planing, if you don't attend to your teeth properly, it's quite likely that you'll develop gum disease again.

Surgical Treatment Options

If the tissue or bone surrounding your teeth is too damaged to be repaired with non-surgical treatment, several surgical procedures are available to prevent severe damage and to restore a healthy smile. We will recommend the procedure that is best suited to the condition of your teeth and gums. 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, leaving open spaces around the teeth that we call pockets. The larger these pockets are, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, leading to more and more damage over time. Eventually the supportive structure degrades to the point that 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.