Gum disease can happen to anyone, even to people with a top-notch dental hygiene routine. That’s why seeing your dentist on a regular basis is an absolute must. If you do have gum disease, your dentist can recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for you based on how far the disease has progressed. He or she may also refer you to a periodontist for treatment. Understanding the different treatments available can help you make the right decision about the health of your mouth.
The most mild form of gum disease, gingivitis, is also the only form of the disease that can be reversed with treatment. Usually, the treatment involves a cleaning by your dentist, followed up with regular brushing and flossing at home. If your teeth are misaligned or if you have crowns that don’t fit properly, your dentist might also recommend correcting them, so that you are better able to clean your teeth and gums at home.
When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress into a more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis. In the more advanced form of the disease, the gums separate from the teeth and pockets are formed, which can collect bacteria. Deep cleaning the pockets, gums and teeth is often an effective, non-surgical way to treat periodontitis in the early stages.
During a deep cleaning treatment, which is also known as scaling, the periodontist will scrape the tartar away, both above the gum line and below it. Several different types of tools can be used to deep clean the gums, such as a laser or ultrasonic device. The periodontist may also put an antibiotic in the pockets of the gum to make sure all of the bacteria is destroyed.
Scaling is often performed along with root planing. Root planing removes rough areas from the teeth’s roots, making it more difficult for bacteria to cling to the teeth. The smoother root also makes it easier for the gum to reattach itself to the teeth.
While some patients only need a non-surgical treatment, more advanced cases of periodontal disease often respond better to surgical treatments. For example, if the pockets in the gums have become very deep, even a deep cleaning might not be enough to really treat the condition. The deeper pockets can still be very difficult for a person to clean, making it more likely that the disease will recur.
The traditional method of periodontal surgery involved cutting back the gums to reduce the size of pockets and to remove tartar, then reshaping the bone and tissue so that the teeth are better held in place. Newer methods use plasma rich growth factors to encourage and stimulate the growth of bone and tissue after the bacteria and tartar are removed from around the gum.
More advanced than traditional scaling and root planing, but less invasive than surgery, laser treatment can be an effective option for many patients with gum disease. Also known as the Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP, laser therapy for gum disease works in several steps. After a probe detects deep pockets, the laser is used to loosen any bacteria and tartar from the affected areas. The periodontist then uses ultrasonic tools to remove the debris from the gums and pockets. He or she again uses the laser to create a blood clot in the treated areas. After the treatment, the gums begin to reattach to the tooth and bone. If needed, the dentist can also adjust a patient’s bite to keep any further damage from occurring to the gums.
Treating Gum Recession
A receding gum line often goes hand in hand with periodontitis. Even after the disease is treated, gum recession can remain, making the teeth look longer and putting them at greater risk for a recurring infection or for decay. For that reason, a periodontist might also treat receding gums after treating gum disease.
While the traditional method of treating gum recession involved removing tissue from the upper mouth and transplanting it to the gums, newer techniques are more innovation and in some cases, less invasive. Alloderm gum grafting, for example, can be performed without removing tissue from the upper mouth, making it a shorter and less painful procedure. The Pinhole technique doesn’t involve the use of grafts at all, only collagen strips. Instead, the gum tissue is manipulated downward, so that it covers the roots of the teeth once again.
Seeing a periodontist is the first step when it comes to treating gum disease. Dr. John Paul Gallardo can recommend the treatments that are most appropriate for you, based on the progression of the disease and what you hope to achieve. To schedule an appointment with the periodontists at their Miami practice, call (305) 447-1447 today.