Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease that requires a long-term treatment plan.
Did you know periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults? If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you might be living this statistic. It’s never too late to treat periodontitis, though, and keep more dental issues at bay. With a proper long-term treatment plan, you can avoid tooth and bone loss.
What is gum disease?
Before we get into the treatment of periodontitis, let’s take a closer look at the road leading to periodontitis. Advanced gum disease is known as periodontitis and usually begins as gingivitis, which occurs when bacteria grows in your mouth and causes the gums to become inflamed. Typically, gingivitis will cause your gums to bleed after brushing, and your mouth may feel irritated. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into a more serious form of gum disease.
Once gum disease has taken hold, the gums will actually begin to pull away from the teeth. This causes pockets to form. Eventually, these pockets will begin to collect plaque and bacteria. That plaque, if not removed, will harden into calculus (tartar) and create the perfect haven for more bacteria. Over time, the bacteria can destroy bone and connective tissue, which causes teeth to become loose and fall out. Other symptoms include persistent bad breath, sensitive teeth, receding gums, loose teeth, and red or swollen gums.
Best Ways to Treat Mild to Advanced Gum Disease
After a doctor has given you a diagnosis and determined the severity of your gum disease, they will begin to discuss treatment options with you that are designed to control the infection and provide you with some relief from symptoms.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
Fortunately, there are some effective non-surgical and painless treatments for gum disease that may be the right option for patients who are still in the early stages of gum disease.
The work starts with a hygienist in your dentist’s office. There are several options for keeping you comfortable during a deep gum cleaning session. Talk to your dental team about the best options. Make sure you express any anxiety or concerns you have. It helps to voice what we’re thinking and feeling, and here at Ada Smile Place, knowing how you’re feeling about the process helps us to recommend the best options for helping you to relax.
Your doctor may recommend scaling and root planing, which can be the first course of action when treating gum disease. This procedure involves a deep cleaning, where plaque and calculus (tartar) are scraped away from below the gum line and any rough spots are smoothed out. While this procedure is relatively non-invasive, it requires the use of local anesthesia to keep you comfortable.
Surgical Treatments for Advanced Gum Disease
The right surgical treatment will depend on how far your gum disease has progressed. A flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery is commonly used to treat patients with advanced forms of periodontitis. During this procedure, any tartar is removed, and the gums are lifted back up and placed tightly around the tooth to close any pockets. By reducing the spaces between the gum and tooth, this surgery makes it more difficult for bacteria to take hold and begin to grow. While this procedure is effective in treating gum disease, it requires anesthesia and stitches and can result in moderate discomfort during the healing process.
If gum disease has progressed enough that portions of the jawbone have been destroyed, then a bone graft will be necessary. This procedure uses either some of your own bone, a synthetic bone, or cadaver bone to provide a base that encourages bone growth. Regenerating bone will help create more stability for loose teeth.
Grafts can also be used to restore the gums. Tissue is often taken from the roof of your mouth and then stitched onto receded gums to not only fill in gaps but regenerate important gum tissue.
Tissue regeneration can also be encouraged by placing a mesh-like fabric between the bone and gum to help guide tissue to grow in the right areas. Over time, both the bone and connective tissue will grow and work to hold the teeth more solidly in place.
Maintenance Treatment for Periodontitis
The best option for maintaining the level of healing you’ve achieved through treatment is frequent professional dental cleanings. Moving forward, think of our dental hygienists as your personal trainers, keeping your gums in tip-top shape. We recommend periodontal maintenance cleanings should be completed every three months. These frequent appointments will keep any new calculus (tartar) from forming and it will help to disrupt any terraforming by bacteria with a biofilm. Frequent visits also mean reduced gum sensitivity because the bacteria that usually causes painful maintenance appointments will be kept in check! For some, those frequent visits could even be pain-free.
Initially after a treatment such as flap surgery, we want to see you often to assess your healing. Sometimes when a patient has severe periodontitis or other health conditions, healing doesn’t happen as quickly. In this scenario, we want to protect your oral health while your body does the hard work to heal. We do that with Perio Protect Trays.
Perio Protect trays are for those patients who have undergone flap surgery and are in the healing stage. In a scenario where those deep pockets in the gums aren’t healing as they should, Perio Protect trays offer a simple and completely painless way to keep bacteria at bay to allow you to heal. For this treatment, your dentist will take custom molds of your teeth and use them to create trays that fit over your teeth, much like a clear retainer or mouth guard. The trays are then filled with medicine that reaches deep below the gum line to fight infection. The trays are completely comfortable to wear and only need to be on for a few minutes each day. By consistently delivering medicine to the affected area, the Perio Protect trays are able to offer a convenient and completely painless way to encourage healing and protect the healthy tissue you’ve worked hard to recover.
No matter what kind of treatment you receive for your gum disease, it is important that you continue to practice good oral hygiene and other healthy habits after your procedure. It’s also important that you come back for maintenance appointments following the schedule your dentist recommends based on the severity of the gum disease. This will not only prevent additional pockets and bacteria from forming, but it will also help ensure the success of any procedure. Be sure to brush and floss on a daily basis, and use the prescribed or suggested mouth rinse.
If you would like to learn more about gum disease and treatment options, contact the caring staff at ADA Smile Place. We are happy to answer any of your questions and help you schedule an appointment.