A statistic few people are aware of is that 80% percent of adults over age 35 have some form of periodontal disease. The good news is that this can often be treated without the need for surgery. We offer nonsurgical periodontal therapy when appropriate in order to help prevent further damage from or slow down the progress of periodontal disease (gum disease).
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal refers to the area around the teeth, or the gums and supporting bone. When plaque builds up on your teeth, the bacteria can cause the gums to become irritated and inflamed and infected. This results in gingivitis or periodontitis, both of which are infections that could potentially lead to serious problems, including tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults today.
Gingivitis Can Be the Start
Often periodontal disease will start with gingivitis, which is relatively mild and can be reversed with proper care. If you have gingivitis, your gums will be red, swollen, and will bleed easily. Gingivitis occurs if proper oral hygiene procedures such as brushing and plaque is allowed to build up on the tooth surfaces near the gumline. Some people appear more susceptible to plaque buildup, so it is important for everyone to brush at least twice daily, especially after meals and to floss every day in order to prevent gingivitis.
If left untreated, this mild infection can lead to periodontitis. Plaque can begin to grow below the gum line causing and infection which triggers an inflammatory response by the body. The body considers the plaque as an invader in essence and begins to try to fight it. In this process, tissues and bone that support the teeth are attacked. In time, the gums can separate from the teeth and create pockets. These pockets are infected, which leads to more tissue and bone loss. Eventually, teeth may become loose and have to be removed. Periodontitis may also be contributing factors in diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.
Gingivitis Can Be Reversed
Before gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, it can often be reversed with improved oral hygiene practices. The typical steps are to maintain regular professional preventive care appointments at least twice yearly and daily effective oral hygiene procedures at home which includes brushing and flossing as mentioned above and any other adjunctive procedures and techniques that might be suggested depending on your specific needs.
Non Surgical Treatment
If it is determined that you do have periodontal disease that has progressed past gingivitis and is a form of periodontitis we may be able to treat that non-surgically with a procedure called scaling and root planning. We can also apply antibiotic solutions directly to the areas involved or use them systemically to help with the treatment.
Scaling and root planning involves the removal of plaque and calculus, also know as tartar, from the crown and root surfaces of the teeth. We use a local anesthetic so you are comfortable during the entire procedure.
Regular exams and more frequent preventive appointments are often necessary to ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy. Periodontal disease tends to be an ongoing chronic condition, so it’s important to know that this isn’t a cure for the problem, but it can often delay or prevent the need for future surgery or other treatments.
There are situations that require more extensive treatment, such as periodontal surgery, so scaling and root planing will not treat all situations.
Additionally, it may be necessary to adjust your bite or fit you for a custom bite-guard to relax your jaw muscles and protect the surface of your teeth from excessive wear or breakdown as well as protecting the supporting structures.