Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease and according to the CDC affects 47% of the population in the United States. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that has been linked to a specific genetic marker and without treatment can lead to bone loss, and tooth loss. Once bone is lost, enlarged gum pockets between the tooth and the gum line commonly form. Sometimes these gaps are cosmetic in nature, and affect the appearance of the gums. More commonly, the gaps put the teeth at future risk for tooth and gum disease, as they are just one more place that plaque and bacteria can collect. The goal of any gum disease treatment is to reduce pocketing and to prevent further bone loss.
One of the methods to treat gum disease (periodontal disease) is with laser therapy. Using the LANAP® protocol for the treatment of gum disease is a regenerative, minimally-invasive treatment with predictable, successful results. Depending on the extent of the treatment, this procedure is completed in 2 appointments with local anesthetic is used for patient comfort. Please click here for more detailed information on this treatment.
In some cases, traditional osseous surgery is preferred over laser therapy.
The goal of osseous surgery to gain access to the tooth root and to clean the damaged areas. Once the dentist can visually see the damage, it can be removed completely. Removing the plaque and decayed gum tissue leaves a pocket between the gum and the tooth. Sometimes the gum returns to its original position, but still the pocket is present. The pocket requires more frequent cleanings as the patient is unable to get to the pockets with regular brushing and flossing. Once the swelling from the periodontal treatment has subsided, the dentist may need to suture the gum to where the bone has resorbed. The goal is to create a space large enough so it can be reached through daily oral hygiene, but small enough that it is not a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria.
Scaling & Root Planing
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue which, left untreated can progress into gum disease. The reality is that gingivitis is a reversible condition if addressed properly as no bone loss has occurred at this point.
Plaque and tartar accumulation on teeth provides an environment, which allows bacteria to thrive and multiply. The bacteria cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed. The condition becomes more noticeable when you brush your teeth or sometimes when you eat. These are signs of the early stage of gingivitis. Gingivitis is easily treated by having the hygienist scaling and polishing the teeth. If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition may progress which leads to bone loss and pocketing. With early stage gum disease, scaling and root planning may be indicated. The difference between scaling and root planing is simple. Scaling is the removal of the dental tartar from the tooth surface while Root planing is the process of smoothing the root surfaces and removing the infected tooth structure.
As a non-surgical procedure, scaling and planing may make it necessary to numb the area for complete comfort. Deep scaling and root planing is usually broken down into one half of the mouth per appointment. This allows for adequate healing time, and reduces the time for each appointment.