Treatment for Periodontal Disease
Many people think that cavities are the main element of their dental health that they need to worry about. While cavities are extremely common, there is another oral problem that is just as likely to put the function and appearance of our teeth and mouth at risk – periodontal disease. Most people have heard of gum disease, but far fewer have come across the term periodontal disease. This is because periodontal disease is the most advanced form of regular gum disease and is used to describe the condition once it reaches a point where there is significant damage to the gums and other structures that support the teeth and hold them in place. These structures are collectively known as the periodontium and are crucial for us to maintain healthy teeth and an attractive smile.
What is Periodontal Disease and What Causes It?
Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that occurs when bacteria found in the mouth interact with sugars in the food and drink you eat to produce plaque – a thin, clear, sticky substance that coats the teeth. If you don’t brush your teeth regularly to remove it, the plaque will spread onto and below the gum line, causing irritation and infection. Gum disease is a progressive condition, which means that it is almost certainly going to get worse without any treatment. In the very earliest stages, gum disease has such mild symptoms (such as bleeding when you brush your teeth, or red, swollen gums) that it is easy to overlook or ignore. However, as gum disease progresses, the bacteria causing the symptoms begin to penetrate beyond the soft tissue of the gums and affect the periodontium.
As well as compromising the structures supporting the teeth, the bacteria that characterize periodontal disease can also enter the bloodstream and use it to navigate around the body. This enables the bacteria to reach major organs and body systems and potentially put them at risk too. In fact, studies have found that patients who develop chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and more are more likely to have bad teeth with signs of periodontal disease.
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Periodontal disease can reach a stage where it causes irreversible and irreparable damage to the function and appearance of the teeth. However, the sooner it is detected, the more likely it is that your dentist will be able to offer you treatment which could preserve your teeth and smile for as long as possible. Some of the most effective treatments for periodontal disease include the following:
Scaling and Root Planing
One of the very first treatments that your dentist will recommend if you are suffering from periodontal disease, this is a deep clean of your teeth both above and below the gum line. Gum disease causes the creation of something called periodontal pockets, which are tiny spaces that form between the teeth and gums. The pockets trap more bacteria and food debris and become increasingly larger and more inflamed. They also cause the gums to pull increasingly further away from the teeth. A scaling and root planing treatment cleans out these periodontal pockets and smooths the roots of the teeth so that the gums can reattach, preventing further bacteria and food debris from entering and triggering the worsening periodontal disease.
Crown lengthening is the name given to a procedure that involves removing excess inflamed gum tissue from around the bottom of the teeth, which may form when a patient has periodontal disease. This inflammation can cause teeth to look much shorter than they actually are and can even be debilitating. By cutting the excess away, including infected tissue, and reshaping what’s left, teeth can be made to look much more natural in height and overall appearance.
Soft Tissue Grafting
If you have severe gum disease, you may have noticed that your gums are starting to recede. This is where they become so inflamed that they pull away from the teeth, causing teeth to look unnaturally long. It can also expose the roots of the tooth, which can then be more easily affected by decay or periodontal disease. Soft tissue grafts are usually taken from the roof of the mouth and are attached to the gum where support is needed to cover exposed roots and receded tissue. Since soft tissue contains live cells, within a number of weeks patients can expect to see an improvement in the condition of their gums and the appearance of their smile.
In cases of very severe periodontal disease, patients may also have experience deterioration of the bone in their jaw. This can happen when bacteria get inside the bone and start to destroy it. Like soft tissue grafting, bone grafting involves taking some bone from another area of your body (usually your hip) and attaching it to the part of your jawbone where work is needed. Over the course of the following weeks/months, the live bone cells will regenerate and fuse the old bone to the new, repairing the structure of your mouth and giving your face definition. If you have lost one or more teeth due to periodontal disease, you may also need to have bone grafting to support a dental implant solution.
For more advice on treatment for periodontal disease, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dental office in Milpitas, CA today.
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