Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection that affects the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Gum disease is a common cause of tooth loss in adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth, causes periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be painless; however, there are some warning signs you can watch out for. Gums that bleed easily, changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down, persistent bad breath, changes in the way partial dentures fit, teeth that have pulled away from your gums, separating or loose permanent teeth, and red, swollen, and tender gums are all signs that you may have periodontal disease. Fortunately, there are many ways in which dentists can treat periodontal disease, and depending on how severe your condition is, they may be able to save your teeth in the process.
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
Deep cleanings are one way in which dentists can treat periodontal disease. In this non-surgical procedure, plaque and tartar above and below the gum line is scraped away (scaling). In addition, the dentist smooths the rough spots on the teeth roots (planing) during the procedure. Smoothing out the rough spots removes bacteria and allows your gums to reattach to your teeth.
The procedure is done under a local anesthetic. However, because the procedure can be quite uncomfortable, sedation dentistry is also an option. At a sedation dentistry center, a dentist will give you medication either orally intravenously to help you feel more relaxed and calm during the procedure.
Flap Surgery (Pocket Reduction Surgery)
During flap surgery, the gums are lifted back, and tartar is removed. If you have irregular surfaces on your bone, they may also be smoothed out. This will limit the areas in which bacteria can form and hide in the future. The gums are placed snugly around your teeth, which reduces the amount of space that remains between your tooth and gum. When the amount of space between your tooth and gum is decreased, there is less room for bacteria to form and develop as well.
If you’ve lost teeth from periodontal disease, a bone graft may be necessary. As soon as you lose a tooth, jawbone loss begins to occur. If too much bone loss occurs, it can limit your choices for tooth replacement. Bone grafting can prevent excessive bone loss at the site of a lost tooth and even stimulate new bone growth. During a bone grafting procedure, fragments of your own bone, donor bone, or synthetic bone are used to replace lost bone. The bone graft acts as a platform for bone regrowth, restoring stability to your teeth.
Soft Tissue Grafts
Gum recession is a common problem seen with periodontal disease where the gum tissue begins to separate from the tooth, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root. The most common type of soft tissue graft is a connective tissue graft. In a connective tissue graft, a flap of skin on the roof of your mouth is cut, and tissue from under the flap is removed. This tissue is then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed tooth or tooth’s root. A free gingival graft, where tissue is removed directly from the roof of your mouth, and a pedicle graft, which uses gum tissue near the receding gum, can also be performed to aid with gum recession.
Guided Tissue Regeneration
Guided tissue regeneration is a procedure that can stimulate gum and bone regrowth when the bone supporting your tooth is destroyed. In guided tissue regeneration, a piece of mesh is placed between your bone and gum, which prevents your gum tissue from growing into the area your bone should be growing in. This procedure also allows both your gum tissue and bone to regrow in order to support your tooth.
Periodontal disease is a common problem that can lead to health complications. Fortunately, there are many ways in which a dentist can help you treat periodontal disease and preserve your smile.