Treating Periodontal Disease – Danville CA

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the tissues and bone that support teeth. Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. When someone has periodontal disease, the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth. As the disease worsens, the tissue and bone that support the tooth are destroyed. Over time, teeth may fall out or need to be removed. Treating periodontal disease in the early stages can help prevent tooth loss.

Periodontal Disease and Whole-Body Health

Tooth loss is not the only problem posed by periodontal disease. Researchers have discovered a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) as well as diabetes. High stress may also be linked to periodontal disease.

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Treating Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. If the disease is caught very early (when it is gingivitis), and no damage has been done to the supporting structures under the teeth, you may simply have a professional cleaning and be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene.

Even with these measures, some patients develop more severe periodontal disease that must be treated. The first step usually involves a special cleaning, called deep scaling or root planning. In this treatment, plaque and tartar are carefully removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. Part of this procedure includes smoothing the tooth’s root surfaces to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. This is sometimes called “periodontal cleaning” or “deep cleaning” and usually takes more than one visit.

Your periodontist may also recommend medicine to help control infection and pain, or to aid healing. These medicines could include a pill, a mouthrinse, or a substance that the dental professional places directly in the periodontal pocket after scaling and root planning.

At your followup visits, the periodontist measures the pocket depths again to check the effect of the scaling and root planning. If the disease continues to advance to the point where the supporting periodontal pockets deepen and the supporting bone is lost, more definitive treatment may be necessary.

Periodontal Surgery

An animated illustrion showing the process of scaling An animated depiction of a root planning procedure

When deep pockets develop, it is difficult to completely remove plaque and tartar even with careful oral hygiene. If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planning, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce the pocket depth and make teeth easier to keep clean.

Surgery allows the dentist access to hard to reach areas that require the removal of tartar and plaque. The gums are stitched back into place or into a new position to make tissue snug around the tooth.

If bone has been destroyed by periodontal disease, periodontal surgery may be needed to rebuild or reshape bone destroyed by periodontal disease. Splints, bite guards or other appliances may be used to hold loose teeth in place and to help tissues heal. If too much gum or bone tissue has been lost, a gum graft or bone graft may be performed.

Sometimes a membrane layer is placed at the surgical area to help the gum tissue stay in place while the tooth root re-attaches to the supporting ligament. This is called guided tissue regeneration. After healing, the membrane dissolves or is removed. After surgery, the dentist may apply a protective dressing over teeth and gums and a special mouthrinse may be recommended or prescribed. An antibiotic and pain reliever may also be prescribed.

Care After Treatment

Once your periodontal treatment is completed, your dentist may recommend more frequent checkups. Regular dental visits and deep cleanings are important to keep periodontal disease under control. Your appointments may alternate between your general dentist and your periodontist so that both doctors may monitor your oral health.

Good oral hygiene at home is also important to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or from coming back. It just takes a few minutes twice a day to care for your teeth and gums. Daily cleaning helps keep the plaque under control and reduces tartar buildup.

If you use tobacco, ask our dentist or physician for information about how to successfully stop the habit. Tobacco contains chemicals that can slow the healing process and make the treatment results less predictable. You don’t have to lose teeth to periodontal disease. Brush, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.