Treating Periodontal Disease (It’s Not as Bad as You’re Thinking)
Let’s delve into treating periodontal disease. We’ve been looking at periodontal disease from a few different angles this summer. Some favor crime dramas for their beach reading. We’re into wellbeing.
In our last post, we discussed a few factors that may be putting you at greater risk of developing periodontal disease, like stress and smoking. Prior to that, we underlined some mounting research that’s indicating periodontal disease may put you at greater risk for developing heart disease and experiencing complications from diabetes.
We also highlighted the early warning signs and prevention tips for parents. Periodontal disease is rare in kids and only sometimes found in adolescents, but it still needs to be on your radar because it’s so easily preventable. And we kicked this short series off with a simple, straightforward explanation of what periodontal disease is.
Here, we’ll delve into treating periodontal disease. If you have it, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Half of all adults in the United States have some form of periodontal disease. But it is something you’re going to want to treat as soon as you can because it’s going to progress and lead to bigger issues in your mouth and beyond.
Treating Periodontal Disease – No surgery required
For starters, you’re looking in the right place. Periodontists are dentistry’s experts in treating periodontal disease. We receive up to three years of specialized training in both non-surgical treatments and periodontal plastic surgery procedures. We’re also experts in replacing missing teeth with dental implants.
Let’s get into the non-surgical treatments first because they no doubt sound the least daunting, right? In fact, the early stages of periodontal disease are usually best treated with non-surgical therapy. We prefer to limit surgery to cases of absolute necessity, and even then, we’ll often start with a non-surgical treatment to limit the invasiveness of the surgical procedure.
Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and tartar from deep pockets in the gums around the tooth. The tooth root is smoothed and bacteria are removed, allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. Occasionally, the treatment will be supplemented with another therapy, like antibiotics, but, in the majority of cases, scaling and root planing is the full extent of the treatment, aside from ongoing checkups.
Treating Periodontal Disease- Reviving receding gums
Surgical treatments for periodontal disease come in a few different forms. A sudden sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks is often a good indication of significant gum recession—if you haven’t already noticed it in the mirror. If it’s left unattended, it’ll progress to root decay and erosion.
Gum recession is usually remedied with a gum graft, which entails taking a thin piece of tissue, either from the roof of your mouth or a synthetic material, or gently moving it from adjacent areas, and creating a new stable, healthy seal around the affected tooth, or teeth.
More severe recession may be treated with a bone graft. As pockets deepen, they collect even more bacteria, which results in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted. But, if treated in time, a bone graft will not only save the teeth, it’ll also encourage the affected jawbone to regrow.
With either procedure, coupled with a daily oral hygiene routine and regular checkups, you can reverse much of the damage caused by periodontal disease and improve your chances of keeping your natural teeth.
When a bone graft isn’t an option, osseous surgery is the next most effective means of halting moderate to severe periodontal disease. A local anesthetic is applied and then the infection is removed and the gum and jawbone are reshaped to create a more effective seal around the tooth.
Crown lengthening is a common cosmetic procedure where excessive gum and bone tissue are reshaped to expose more of the teeth, but it can also serve as a precursor to a restorative dental treatment. When a tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or there’s an insufficient amount of it to perform a crown or a bridge, a crown lengthening may be done first.
Treating Periodontal Disease – Get back to smiling more
If you’ve had a tooth or teeth extracted as a result of periodontal disease, a dental implant may be an option.
Dental implants, increasingly, are becoming the more popular choice for teeth replacement because they look and feel like natural teeth. They’re stable enough to let you eat pretty much whatever you want. And, just as importantly, no one will ever notice the difference—including you.
They’re also a permanent solution. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that’s placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. That intimate connection with the underlying bone and the surrounding gum tissue helps keep them healthy and intact.
Periodontists are best positioned to place implants, not only because we have special knowledge of the areas involved and the facilities to ensure that your implants look and feel just like your own teeth, but also because we have extensive experience working with other dental professionals. I’ve performed over 8,000 dental implant procedures, and I’ve witnessed my patients’ quality of life improve dramatically with each one.
We launched this little awareness campaign because periodontal disease is inching toward epidemic status at a time when it’s so easily preventable and dental care has never been more accessible. The takeaway we’ve tried to emphasize throughout is this: See a professional, whether for a regular checkup or an evaluation. Any reservations you may have pale in comparison to the threats periodontal disease poses when it’s left unchecked.