According to a study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010, more than 64 million people in America have mild, moderate, or severe gum disease. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that left untreated can begin to erode the bone that supports your teeth. It is caused by an interaction between the normal bacteria in your mouth and your own body’s reaction to infection. Gum disease is also a major cause of bad breath.
Early stage gum disease can be discovered and treated at your regular checkups – a professional cleaning with our hygienist or dentist is the only way to remove plaque that has hardened into calculus (tartar).
If your gum disease is a bit more advanced, however, there are a variety of treatment options that our doctor will choose from to restore your healthy smile. It is important to remember that many factors affect gum disease, such as the type of bacteria in your mouth, heredity, hormones, your diet, diseases such as diabetes, and how effectively you clean your teeth. Ultimately, since bacteria will always be present in your mouth, it is essential to learn to clean your teeth adequately if you want to keep your gums healthy.
At our office, we aim to conduct the least invasive procedures possible. In some cases, surgery may be required, but our first step against gum disease is a nonsurgical procedure called scaling and root planing.
In this procedure, we clean away the plaque and calculus (tartar) from the tooth root surface. We also smooth the rough surfaces of the teeth and roots to remove bacterial products that have soaked under the surface of the root. If your gum disease is caught early, root planning may be the only treatment you need. However, your homecare is essential to keep your gums healthy. You need to brush and floss daily, avoid tobacco use, eat a healthy diet, and schedule regular dental checkups or your gum health could deteriorate again.
Options for Surgical Treatment
Sometimes scaling and root planning is not sufficient to defeat gum disease and surgery is necessary to make your gums healthy again. Since every patient is different, Dr. Arfanis will determine whether or not a referral to a periodontist is necessary.
Different Forms of Periodontal Surgery Include:
Pocket Reduction: Your gums are meant to fit snugly around your teeth, which is held securely by your jaw bones. When you have periodontal disease, gaps or “pockets” form between your gums and your teeth, leaving space for bacteria, plaque, and calculus (tartar) to collect. A buildup of plaque and tartar deteriorates the bone foundation that supports your tooth – this can result in the loss of your tooth.
In this procedure, the doctor fold backs the gum and removes the disease causing bacteria and calculus. The doctor then stitches the healthy tissue back into place and reduces the size of the pockets. As your gums heal, they reattach to the teeth. This procedure may be done by traditional or laser surgery.
- Regeneration: Your doctor may recommend a regenerative surgical procedure if your gum disease has deteriorated your teeth and surrounding bone. In this treatment, the doctor fold backs your gums and removes any plaque and tartar that are damaging your teeth and gums. Then, bone graft or tissue-stimulating proteins are used to allow new bone to grow back in the affected areas. Once this is finished, your doctor sews your gums back into place. If you practice good hygiene at home, the regeneration procedure should aid you in keeping your teeth clean.
- Soft Tissue Graft: A common symptom for sufferers of gum disease is gum recession, which is when the gum recedes, exposing the root. When the gum line recedes, this gives plaque and tartar the ability to build up on the root of your tooth – it also may create increased sensitivity to hot and cold. To fix this, your doctor takes a small amount of tissue from anywhere in your mouth and grafts it to your gums. This thickens the tissue that has been receding and makes it resistant to further recession. Soft tissue grafts are also performed as a cosmetic procedure; gum recession makes the tooth appear longer than normal and creates the appearance of black triangular spaces between your teeth.