Periodontal (Gum) Therapy

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth.  Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva.  If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.

Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy.  Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions.  Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

  • Bleeding gums– Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss
  • Loose teeth– Also caused by one loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone)
  • Spacing between teeth– Caused by bone loss
  • Persistent Bad Breath– Caused by bacteria in the mouth
  • Pus around the teeth and gums– Sign that there is an infection present
  • Receding gums– Loss of gum around a tooth
  • Red and puffy gums– Gums should never be red or swollen
  • Tenderness or Discomfort– Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth

Periodontal Therapy Procedures

Periodontal therapy includes both surgical and non-surgical techniques to restore health to the tissues that support the teeth (gums and bone) and prevent tooth loss. They include:

Scaling and Root Planing. These deep-cleaning techniques are the best starting point to control gum disease. Plaque and calculus (tartar) are removed from beneath the gum tissues, using hand scalers and/or ultrasonic instruments.

An animated illustration showing the process of scaling

An animated depiction of a root planning procedure

Gum Grafting. Sometimes it’s necessary to replace areas of lost gum tissue so that tooth roots are adequately protected. This can be accomplished by taking healthy gum tissue from one area of the mouth and moving it to where it is needed, or by using laboratory-processed donor tissue.

Periodontal Plastic Surgery. When used to describe surgery, the word “plastic” refers to any reshaping procedure that creates a more pleasing appearance of the gum tissues.

Periodontal Laser Treatment. Removing diseased gum tissue with lasers can offer significant advantages over conventional surgery, such as less discomfort and gum shrinkage.

Crown Lengthening Surgery. This is a surgical procedure in which tooth structure that is covered by gum and bone tissue may need to be exposed either for cosmetic reasons (too make the teeth look longer and the smile less gummy) or to aid in securing a new dental crown.

Dental Implants. Today’s preferred method of tooth replacement is a titanium dental implant, which is placed beneath the gum line and into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. The implant is then attached to a realistic-looking dental crown that is visible above the gum line and indistinguishable from a natural tooth.

Keeping Good Periodontal Health

Maintaining proper home care, having routine dental checkups and cleanings,  eating a nutritious diet low in sugar, and staying away from tobacco in all forms, will also increase your periodontal health — and your chances of keeping your teeth for life.