Your dentist may have informed you that you have some form of periodontal disease; you’re not alone – millions of adults in the U.S. currently suffer from some type of this disease. Periodontitis ranges from mild gum irritation to a much more severe form which can potentially cause the permanent loss of bone tissue, and eventually, the teeth themselves. The care that you give to your teeth and gums has a critical impact on whether gum disease will worsen, slow, or be stopped altogether.
Unlike other dental problems which are often identified with pain, many patients do not exhibit symptoms of periodontal disease until they are well past their 30th birthday! However, teenagers can sometimes get the milder form of gum disease, which is called gingivitis. Infection control is usually the primary focus of treatment, which varies by type and the amount required, depending on severity. The ultimate success of any treatment option depends squarely on how well the patient is maintaining proper home-based care. To that end, your friendly dentist, Dr. Vanama, may offer advice about certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, to ensure the patient understands the steps of how to get rid of gum disease.
Here’s a few of the many treatments available here at Discovery Dental:
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
Scaling & root planing is a procedure where your dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes embedded plaque and tartar from your teeth both above and below the gum line, while root planing smooths over gritty spots on the roots of teeth, which give refuge to harmful bacteria. Occasionally, a Laser treatment is used instead of traditional hardware, thereby reducing discomfort and inflammation after treatment.
Used alongside scaling and root planing, medications can help improve the likelihood of treatment success. The degree of severity of the disease may still require a surgical treatment option. Some of the more common medications and their uses are listed below:
- Prescription oral rinse: This is used similar to the mouthwash you have at home, and it’s an antimicrobial rinse containing chlorhexidine. It controls the spread of bacteria following a gum surgery and for the treatment of gingivitis.
- Oral antibiotics: Usually in capsule form, these are taken for a brief period to treat stubborn periodontal infections.
- Antiseptic chip: A tiny slice of gelatin containing a time-released dose of the antibacterial salve chlorhexidine is inserted into the pockets following a scaling and root planing treatment. This helps to slow or stop the spread of disease-causing bacteria, and help periodontal pockets to heal slightly over an extended period of time.
- Microspheres (Arestin®): Scores of miniscule pellets containing minocycline hydrochloride, which feature a gradual time-release of antibiotics to control infection. They are inserted into the pockets which have formed between the teeth and gums following a scaling and root planing procedure.
- Flap Surgery: Your dentist or periodontist may determine that the severity of infection made medications and deep cleaning ineffective. This type of surgery involves peeling back the gum tissue from the teeth to alter the periodontal pockets next to the teeth and/or eliminate deep-seated tartar. Afterward, sutures are used to get the gums to fit securely around the teeth, and as the gums heal, they’ll return to a tight fit around the tooth.
- Bone and Tissue Graft: Gum and bone tissue which has been permanently lost will be restored through an advanced procedure, usually accompanying a flap surgery. Your dentist, may use synthetic or natural bone to fill in damaged areas, which may help promote regrowth. Guided tissue regeneration is a procedure where your dentist will sandwich a tiny slice of mesh between the gums and bone structure, preventing gum tissue from expanding into the places where bone is being replaced.