Gentle, Non-Surgical Gum Therapy
See your dentist if you notice any of the following warning sings:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any changes in the fit of partial dentures
Diagnosing Periodontal Disease
During a checkup, the dentist examines your gums for periodontal problems. An instrument called a periodontal probe is used to gently detect "pockets" between your gums and teeth.
At the very edge of the gumline, gum tissue is not attached to each tooth. Instead, there is a very shallow, v-shaped groove called the sulcus between the tooth and gums. The normal space between teeth and healthy gums should be three millimeters or less. With periodontal diseases, this tiny space develops into a pocket that collects more plaque bacteria and is difficult to keep clean.
If gum disease is diagnosed, your dentist may provide treatment, or you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal diseases. Treating the disease depends on how far the condition has progressed.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of the disease. The gums become red, swollen and they may bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible. If not treated, it may lead to more severe condition, called periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of periodontal disease. At this stage, the disease may require more complex treatment to prevent tooth loss. The gums, bone and other structures that support teeth are damaged. Teeth can become loose and fall out - or they may have to be removed.
Prevention and Treatment (Laser Treatment)
The first line of defense is prevention. This includes a good oral hygiene routine at home. Brushing twice a day and cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or an interdental cleaner helps prevent plaque from accumulating. The dental office staff may provide instructions on additional cleaning methods or oral hygiene products to use at home.
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are important in preventing periodontal diseases. If these measures are not taken, the likelihood of disease increases. In some cases, even with these measures, a certain percentage of patients experience some form of periodontal disease that must be treated.
When your dentist diagnoses periodontal disease, one of the treatments is scaling and root planing. Depending on the extent of the disease, your dentist may recommend that one or more sections (quadrants) of the mouth be treated. Treatment may require one or more visits.
Scaling is used to remove plaque and tarter beneath the gumline. A local anesthetic may be given to reduce any discomfort. Using a small scaler or ultrasonic cleaner, plaque and tarter are carefully removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth's root surfaces are then smoothed or planed to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.
Dental lasers can now be used to help further detoxify the gums. The dental laser will significantly reduce the number of harmful bacteria present around the teeth. Dental laser treatment in conjunction with conventional scaling is state of the art in periodontal disease treatment. Laser gum treatment is very comfortable. Local anesthetic is typically not used for laser treatment of gums.