Types of Periodontal Therapy

Gum disease is one of the most prolific dental problems seen in the U.S. today, and is estimated to affect at least half of the population. Yet, despite this figure, many people focus their attention on the cleanliness and health of their teeth, and neglect the area initially affected by this progressive condition – the gums.

Healthy gums are crucial if we are to retain our natural teeth for as long as possible. This is because their primary functions are to hold the teeth in place, and protect the roots and other supporting structures from external elements. The health of our gums can also have an impact on our general wellbeing, and severe gum disease has been proven to be a contributing factor in the development of some chronic health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

What is periodontal disease and what causes it?

Gum disease may go by many names (periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis) but, they all refer to the infiltration of bacteria-laden plaque into the gums. When we fail to brush and floss effectively, bacteria may end up sticking between; and to; the fronts of your teeth. Over time, this accumulates and hardens into plaque, which when it starts to penetrate below the gum line, causes irritation. Left untreated, the condition worsens, and a wide range of symptoms can develop, including:

- Bleeding when brushing

- Red, swollen, sore gums

- Infections, that could spread beyond the gum and to other parts of the body

- Extreme pain

In its most advanced stage, periodontal disease can cause the bone in the jaw and the gums to deteriorate, meaning that your teeth will lose some of their support. In some instances, patients with severe periodontitis may find that they lose one or more teeth due to the condition.

The earlier that periodontal disease is diagnosed, the sooner treatments can be offered, improving the likelihood that you will be able to eradicate the condition entirely, before it causes permanent damage to your smile.

What types of periodontal therapy are available?

If you have been diagnosed with periodontitis, then there a range of therapies that may be recommended to you. Nearly all dentists will advocate trying non-surgical therapies first, unless your periodontitis is extremely advanced.

Scaling and root planing

This non-surgical dental treatment is one of the most common when it comes to dealing with periodontal disease. It can be performed by either our dentist or hygienist, and local anesthetic is provided to help you remain comfortable throughout the procedure.

Scaling and root planing is essentially a deep clean of your teeth and gums, with the aim of removing any plaque or tartar that has spread below the gums, causing the periodontal disease. However, it is more involved than a general professional clean. During the scaling, the bacteria is removed from the surface of the tooth and the periodontal pockets. Next, the root surfaces are smoothed, and any infected tooth structure is removed. This part of the process is known as planing.


Once the infected tissue has been removed, our dentist may prescribe you with a course of antibiotics which will help ensure that any infection that may have spread to other parts of your body is also dealt with.

Bite guard

Some people subconsciously clench or grind their teeth. This is a condition known as bruxism, and studies have shown that it can contribute to the development of periodontal disease. To help reduce the pressure placed on to teeth and gums by periodontal disease, some dentists will recommend that you wear a bite guard at night. This could reduce the likelihood that you will develop periodontitis.

Crown lengthening

Crown lengthening is the most commonly recommended surgical treatment for periodontal disease. Patients can expect their dentist to reshape the gum line by cutting away any infected tissue. More of the tooth is exposed during this procedure, so it is also often recommended as a cosmetic treatment for patients who have particularly ‘gummy’ smiles.

Pocket reduction surgery

The periodontal pockets are the tiny areas of space between the gums and teeth, where bacteria accumulate and cause periodontal disease. This surgery is often performed on patients with deep periodontal pockets in addition to root scaling and planing. By reducing the size of these pockets, our dentist can help reduce the likelihood that you will develop periodontitis in the future.

For further information about the types of periodontal therapies that are available in your area, contact and make an appointment with our dentist.

smiling patient at a dental clinic