Non-Surgical Treatment Options For Gum Therapy

Gum disease is something that will affect most of us at some point during our lifetime. Caught early enough, it will have very little impact on our oral health and serious problems can be avoided. However, if it is left to progress, gum disease can cause a multitude of different issues, from bad breath and tooth loss to infections and even put you at greater risk of developing chronic health problems including diabetes and heart disease.

We are often guilty of overlooking our gums in favor of our teeth. Nevertheless, our gums play an absolutely crucial role in supporting our teeth, preventing dental problems and keeping our mouth healthy. If our gums are compromised, tooth loss, amongst other issues, becomes a very real threat. This is largely due to the development of a characteristic of gum disease known as periodontal pockets.

What are periodontal pockets?

Periodontal pockets are something that forms as a result of gum disease. You may hear your dentist refer to something called ‘pocket depth’ and this is the measurement of the depth of the pockets that form around the base of your teeth when the gums recede and cause gaps to open up.

One of the biggest problems with periodontal pockets is that they are extremely difficult to clean. They are large enough for bacteria and tiny particles of food to become trapped in them, fuelling the risk of decay and the progression of gum disease.

One of the best ways to help heal the gums and reverse the effects of gum disease is to clean these periodontal pockets of any food and bacteria in a procedure known as scaling and planning, which is the principal non-surgical treatment for gum disease.

What is scaling and planning?

Scaling and planning are one of the most common non-surgical treatment options for treating gums that have been affected by periodontal disease. It is also sometimes referred to as a deep cleaning since it offers a degree of cleaning beyond what is usually performed at a routine appointment with a hygienist. Although one scaling and planning appointment may be sufficient, it is not unusual for patients to require a couple of visits to achieve a satisfactory result.

As you may have guessed from the name, scaling and planning have two parts. Scaling is performed first. This is when any plaque and tartar are removed from your teeth and from the periodontal pockets that have formed around the base of your teeth. This must be done by a professional since only dentists have access to the tools needed to comprehensively clean out the periodontal pockets to prevent further damage and infection from occurring.

Planning, or root planing, is the second part of the process. This involves smoothing out the tooth roots so that it is harder for bacteria and debris to accumulate on them, and to make it easier for the gum tissue to reattach securely to your teeth.

Although non-invasive, many patients find scaling and root planning uncomfortable and for this reason, you may be offered anesthetic and/or sedation ahead of this procedure. It is important to note that you may have some discomfort and sensitivity for a day or two after your scaling and planning appointments. You may notice that your gums feel swollen, tender and may bleed when you brush your teeth. This is normal and usually resolves itself within a week of your appointment. You may also be given antibiotics as a precautionary measure.

If scaling and root planning is deemed unsuccessful, you may be recommended to try a more invasive form of treatment including crown lengthening, periodontal pocket reduction surgery and soft tissue grafting.

If you would like to find out more about scaling and planning for gum therapy, or if you would like to have your gum disease assessed by our experienced dental team, please don’t hesitate to contact our dental practice in Sherman, TX.

Smiling woman looking at her teeth

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