What is Periodontal Therapy

If you have ever noticed blood in the sink when you brush your teeth, you could be one of the estimated 64 million American’s that is suffering from gum disease. While the symptoms are easily ignored in the early stages, left untreated, gum disease quickly progresses. At its worst, it is known as periodontitis and can cause severe infection that can spread throughout the body, chronic pain and even loss of the affected tooth. Periodontal therapy is the name given to treatments that specifically target gum health with the aim of halting and reversing the progression of gum disease.

What is gum disease?

Failing to brush our teeth properly allows bacteria to accumulate on the outside of the teeth, where they clump together causing a sticky, colorless film known as plaque. This usually happens along the edge of the teeth where they meet the gum. If this plaque isn’t quickly removed, it can cause the gums to become irritated, red, sore and swollen. It also slowly begins to harden into tartar – a brownish-yellow deposit that is impossible to remove without professional help.

Over time, the bacteria from the plaque or tartar can start to penetrate the gums through tiny gaps between the gums and teeth that are impossible to clean without professional assistance. As the disease progresses, pain, infection and bone deteriorates, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Why is it important to seek treatment for gum disease?

Periodontal disease may seem like purely a dental problem, but left untreated, it could actually have a significant impact on your general health and wellbeing. Patients who have been diagnosed with periodontal disease have been shown to have a higher risk of developing some of the follow serious and chronic conditions:

- Alzheimer’s disease

- Cancer

- Diabetes

- Heart disease

- Respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia

- Stroke

Many patients also feel detrimental psychological effects of periodontal disease, such as lack of confidence and self-esteem due to the appearance of their smile.

Types of periodontal therapy

When it comes to periodontal therapies, there are several options available. The one that our dentist may recommend for you will depend on the stage of your periodontal disease.

Non-surgical periodontal therapies

Non-surgical periodontal therapies are usually successful provided that the disease is still in the early stages. Some of the treatments include:

- Regular maintenance cleans with our dentist or dental hygienist.

- Scaling and root planing. This is a deep clean that focuses on clearing away bacteria from below the gum line.

- A course of antibiotics.

- Orthodontic bite adjustment, or the use of a bite guard.

Surgical periodontal therapies

If you have moderate to severe periodontal disease, you will likely require surgical intervention to help clear the infection completely and preserve your natural teeth. Some of the most commonly performed surgical periodontal therapies include:

- Crown lengthening. This involves recontouring the gum tissue so that more of the tooth is exposed and the smile appears less ‘gummy’.

- Pocket reduction surgery. This focuses on reducing the small gaps between the teeth and gums, so that less bacteria can become trapped and cause infection. It also makes the periodontal pockets much easier for our dentist or hygienist to clean.

- Soft tissue grafts, to restore the gum line.

- Bone grafts, to restore bone density.

- Dental implants, which are used to replace teeth that have fallen out due to extreme periodontal disease.

By choosing to have periodontal therapy treatments, you can help to protect your teeth against the effects of gum disease and preserve your natural smile for years to come. To find out more, contact and speak to our dental practitioner’s office today.

smiling patient at a dental clinic