Let’s start with the bad news: a 2009-2010 CDC study revealed that 47.3% of Americans over 30 have mild to severe periodontitis (advanced periodontal disease). That means 64.7 million people in this country suffer from gum disease—and some don’t even know it.
Now for some good news: gum disease is treatable, especially when it’s caught early. New technology is making the treatments more gentle and safer all the time. But how do they work? First, let’s take a look at what gum disease does to the gums, teeth, and mouth.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a common health problem that occurs when the bacteria in plaque starts to infect the gums, first causing gingivitis. Gingivitis causes the gums to become swollen, red, and often bleed during brushing and flossing. As plaque continues to build up, it can harden and become tartar or calculus, hard deposits that accumulate more plaque and bacteria. As gingivitis gets worse, it can progress into periodontal disease. Advanced gum disease can result in all kinds of health problems, from loose teeth and bone loss, to heart disease and even Alzheimer’s
Traditional Treatment Methods
Now that we know how dangerous gum disease can be, treatment becomes even more important. While gum disease is still in its early stages, thorough dental cleanings and diligent oral hygiene habits can be enough to reverse the damage. That might mean a normal cleaning or deep cleanings (scaling and root planning) to get rid of plaque and tartar. However, advanced periodontal disease requires more invasive treatments. In the past, that meant surgery.
Flap surgery is the traditional method for resolving inflammation and deep pockets in the gums (the gums moving away from the tooth). During the surgery, a dentist might lift up the gums to remove tartar beneath the surface. After this step is complete, the gums are sutured into place in order to help them heal directly next to the tooth. This makes it easier to clean the teeth and prevent further gum disease.
Advanced periodontal disease can cause bone and tissue loss or receding gums. Bone grafting is another procedure that is often used to help restore lost tissue from periodontal disease. Receding gum lines used to be repaired exclusively using a grafting procedure that was very slow, allowing for only small sections to be completed at a time. The complication rate for this procedure is also very high. Today, there are more advanced treatments available.
Cutting-Edge Gum Disease Treatments
Receding gum lines receive a much-needed makeover with the new non-surgical method known as the The Pinhole Technique. It’s a non-invasive procedure that does not involve incisions or sutures. Patients can get strong, beautiful gums in just a few minutes using this technique. The procedure works by placing tiny holes into the gums. These holes are then used to gently shift the gums down, lowering the gum line and helping to prevent problems like loose teeth, further decay, and pain. The procedure only requires a local anesthetic and can be completed in about 30-60 minutes on average. Gums will feel sensitive for a short time, but patients can get back to normal activities right away—with instant results.
Patients who are coping with periodontal disease also have new alternatives to the traditional flap surgery. Lasers are a common tool in many medical procedures, and are now an effective treatment for gum disease. LANAP® laser treatments can remove bacteria, tartar, and diseased tissue, allowing the gums to recover and heal from the inflammation and damage caused by gum disease. During the procedure, the laser also encourages the pockets to adhere to the teeth once again, helping to prevent tartar accumulation. The patient’s bite is also corrected during laser treatment. Usually, only one treatment and two follow-up procedures are needed—much fewer than traditional surgery demands. Patient recovery takes under 24 hours, and patients will only need to take a few precautions, including eating a soft food diet for a day or two—though some patients even feel well enough to resume their normal diet immediately.
Don’t Settle for Old Technology
When comparing old treatments with the new, it’s clear: technology advances have made gum disease treatments safer, more comfortable, and more effective for patients. If you think you might have symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to seek help from an expert in gum treatments, like Drs. Gallardo in Miami.
Our practice offers the latest in gum disease treatments, including the pinhole technique for receding gums, and laser treatments for periodontal disease. If you’re concerned about your gum health, don’t hesitate—you’ll have more options the earlier you seek treatment. Call our offices at 305-547-8687 today to schedule your appointment.