Different Treatment Needed For Different Levels Of Gum Disease

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The most appropriate treatment for periodontal (gum) disease depends on its level at the time of treatment. A Periodontist is trained to treat all types of gum disease in the manner that is least invasive. This can often be accomplished non-surgically.

For many types of gum disease, a non-surgical Scaling & Root Planing may be sufficient. This procedure is a careful cleaning of tooth root surfaces that removes plaque and calculus (tartar). It also smooths tooth roots, which removes bacterial toxins. Scaling & Root Planing is typically followed by application of anti-bacterial medications.

Although Scaling & Root Planing is an effective process for many patients, non-surgical periodontal treatment has limitations. When the level of periodontal disease requires more-intensive therapy, surgery may be needed to fully restore good oral health that can be maintained with the help of regular oral hygiene visits.

The stages of gum disease that require Scaling & Root Planing are those more extensive than Gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily. With professional treatment and rigorous oral home care, Gingivitis is normally reversible. Although the most common cause of Gingivitis is poor oral hygiene, other contributing causes are diabetes, stress, hormonal changes, pregnancy, substance abuse, certain medications, smoking, age, genetics, and some other diseases or conditions in the body.

As untreated Gingivitis progresses, Periodontitis begins. This occurs when plaque forms below the gum line. Because plaque is a hardened mass of bacteria, this bacterial onslaught produces toxins that inflame gum tissue.

Once toxins activate chronic inflammation, the body’s defense systems can no longer overcome the damage. Tissues and bone that support teeth are destroyed and gums begin to separate from the teeth. Bacterial pockets form between the teeth and become infected.

As Periodontitis progresses, the bacteria-filled pockets deepen and destroy more levels of gum tissue and bone. Amazingly, this damage can occur in many patients who experience only mild symptoms. This is why gum disease is often referred to as a ‘silent’ disease.

Periodontal surgical treatment, however, is deemed a surgical procedure because the Periodontist must make incisions in gum tissues to reach all areas where periodontal bacteria has penetrated. To ensure patients are relaxed and comfortable, they are typically sedated throughout the procedure.

This is why people who experience ANY symptoms of gum disease, or are told by their Dentist or Hygienist that it exists, should have immediate treatment. When caught early, treatment requires less time with less expense than surgical treatment needed for more advanced levels.

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