Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and problems of the gums.
Periodontal treatments include a variety of options based on the nature and extent of the gum problem in question.
Periodontal Treatment Options
Your dentist will always start with considering the least invasive and simplest solution. However, in some cases, surgery may be the only answer.
Scaling and Root Planing
The first thing a dentist does to help prevent or ease gum disease is a special type of cleaning known as scaling and root planing. During this procedure your dentist or specially trained dental hygienist will use picks as well as an ultrasonic cleaning device to remove plaque and tartar from under the gum line and around the tooth where brushing and flossing can’t reach. Then, the rough surfaces of the tooth and root are planed (smoothed out). This healthy, clean surface makes it easier for the gum to attach itself to the tooth.
When gum disease is addressed early enough, this scaling and root planning procedure is frequently all the periodontal treatment that is needed. You will, however, need to keep up your regular dental care, including a healthy diet, daily brushing and flossing and regular trips to your dentist. Without proper care, gum disease can easily recur.
If the gums and bone surrounding your teeth are too damaged to be repaired with scaling and root planing, surgical treatment may be the only option.
Below are some of the more common types of periodontal surgery. Your dentist will, after careful diagnosis, recommend the procedure that’s best for you.
Reduction of Pocket Depth
When a mouth is healthy, the teeth are held firmly in place by the gum tissue and supported by the bones of the jaw. Periodontal disease weakens these tissues and bones, leaving open spaces around the teeth. These are called pockets. The larger and deeper the pockets, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, thus causing more and more damage. If left untreated, the structure may degrade to the point where the affected tooth either falls out or needs to be removed.
With pocket reduction surgery, the gum tissue is folded back and the bacteria, hiding underneath is removed along with the hardened plaque or tartar that have collected over time. The healthy tissue is then sewn back in place. This way the pockets are reduced and the gums can reattach to the teeth.
During a regeneration procedure the gum tissue is folded back, in a similar way as is done in a pocket depth reduction. However, depending on your situation, a bone graft may be performed to stimulate new bone growth or a special kind of protein may be applied that stimulates tissue growth in those areas most affected by disease.
Soft Tissue Graft
One of the most frequent symptoms of gum disease is recession. When the gums recede more of the roots are exposed. This can make the teeth appear longer and can also cause a sensitivity to cold or hot fluids or liquids. It also creates an environment for increased damage from bacteria, plaque and tartar, especially to the exposed parts of the tissue and roots.
When a dentist performs a soft tissue graft he or she takes tissue from the top of your mouth or another location and sews it into the gum area, restoring the gum line to its original position. This procedure can be done for dental health or cosmetic reasons.