Gum disease isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition. There are different stages of the disease, and different gum disease treatment options. Usually, the sooner your gum disease is diagnosed and treated, the less involved treatment needs to be. Some people might see significant improvement after having their teeth and gums deep cleaned. Other might need more invasive procedures to restore the gums and remove the bacteria and plaque.
Non-Surgical Gum Disease Treatment
There are a few non-surgical gum disease treatment options. If you have a very early stage version of gum disease, known as gingivitis, a cleaning from your dentist might be sufficient to treat the issue. During a teeth cleaning, your dentist removes built-up plaque and tartar from the teeth and just beneath the gum line. After the cleaning, it’s usually recommended that you keep up a good oral care routine at home, brushing and flossing daily. If you have gingivitis that seems to occur regularly, your dentist might recommend coming in for a cleaning more than twice a year to prevent the condition from advancing to another stage of gum disease.
If your gum disease has advanced past gingivitis, it might still be treatable with a non-surgical option. More advanced stages of gum disease can often be treated with a very deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing. During the treatment, the periodontist cleans the teeth above and below the gum line, removing built-up tartar. If root planing is involved, the periodontist will file the roots of the teeth so that they are smooth. Smoothing the roots gives bacteria fewer places to hide or collect, making it less likely to build up on the teeth and gums.
Along with removing plaque and tartar and planing the roots, non-surgical gum disease treatment might also involve an antibiotic medication to kill off any lingering bacteria. The types of antibiotics used vary. Your periodontist might prescribe you an antibacterial rinse, which you use like mouthwash. After scaling and root planing, he might place a dissolving gel or chip between the gum and the tooth. The chip or gel melts away over time, releasing an antibiotic as it does so. Another option is to prescribe oral antibiotics to you.
Surgical Gum Disease Treatment
If non-surgical gum disease treatments aren’t sufficient enough to fully treat periodontal disease, or if pockets and inflammation remain after a non-surgical treatment, a periodontist might move on to surgical options. Several surgical gum disease treatments are available. If root planing and deep cleaning didn’t reduce the pockets around the teeth, flap surgery might be in order.
The surgery involves cutting away and lifting up the gums, then removing built-up tartar. The periodontist then repositions the gums around the teeth, eliminating or significantly reducing the size of the periodontal pocket.
Advanced gum disease can cause the gingival, or gum, tissue to pull or recede away from the teeth. It can also destroy the bone of the teeth. In those cases, either a gum graft surgery or a bone graft surgery might be required. A gum graft typically involves taking gum tissue from one area of the mouth and transplanting it over the affected teeth. Newer developments, such as Alloderm, eliminate the need for a graft to be taken from the palate or roof of the mouth. Alloderm dental uses grafts produced from human tissue but not taken directly from the patient. The treatment eliminates the need to surgically remove tissue from one area, making it a more comfortable and less involved treatment option for patients.
The bone of the teeth is affected in the most advanced cases of gum disease. If left unchecked, the bacteria and inflammation can actually destroy the bone, leading to tooth loss. A bone graft surgery can involve using a patient’s own tissue to restore the damaged bone or using a special tissue-stimulating material to replace it.
Innovative Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease treatment has evolved over the years and many options available now use state-of-the-art technology to restore lost tissue or otherwise correct the disease.
One example is the pinhole surgical technique, which corrects gingival recession without the need for a completed surgical procedure or gum graft. During the pinhole procedure, the periodontist makes several small holes in the gumline. He then adjusts the position of the gum tissue downwards, working with the small pinholes. The formerly receding gums now cover the roots of the teeth.
The treatment has less of a recovery time and is more comfortable than traditional gum grafting. It is usually ideal for any patient with gum recession, although a consultation with a periodontist is recommended to ensure there are no other issues.
Another advanced technique for gum disease treatment involves the use of lasers. LANAP is ideal for many types of patients, including those with diabetes and other long-term conditions, who might not be good candidates for periodontal surgery. The treatment deep cleans the teeth and gums, reattaches loose tissue, and stimulates the production and growth of gum tissue. It’s less invasive and more comfortable than surgery, too. LANAP also has a shorter recovery time and might require fewer office visits.
The first step to treating your gum disease is getting an accurate diagnosis. Once you know what your issue is – whether it’s gingivitis or a more advanced case – you and your periodontist can discuss your treatment options. Weighing the pros and cons of each treatment and knowing what’s involved in each can help you make the most informed decision. To learn more, contact Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas, periodontists in Miami, by calling (305) 447-1447 to schedule a consultation today.