Gum Disease Treatments

gum-disease-treatments - picture of a man and woman who have been treatedThere are two important things to remember about gum disease:

  1. It is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.
  2. Most people are unaware that they have it because it is a painless condition.

We have put a good amount of information on this page, so please use these on-page links to navigate as you wish.

What Is Gum Disease

Gum gum disease treatments - this image shows the stages of diseasedisease is caused by the development of plaque under the gum line and in between the teeth.  Plaque is a sticky film composed of thousands of bacterial species and their byproducts.  The early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is essentially a bacterial infection of the gum tissues that presents as tender, red, and swollen gums.  This usually causes bad breathe as well.  Gingivitis can be reversed with non-surgical interventions and careful dental care at home.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the chronic inflammation of the tissues causes the gums to pull away or “recede” from the teeth.  As a result, pockets of infection may form in between the teeth and gums.  Over time, the infection and inflammation can erode the bone and gum tissues which hold the teeth in place.  This is called periodontitis.  Once bone loss occurs, it cannot be regenerated, but there are treatments which can stop the condition from progressing further.

Gum Disease Prevention

It almost goes without saying that consistent and careful dental care at home is the best way to prevent gum disease.  Neglecting dental hygiene will result in plaque/tartar build-up and the host of dental maladies that come along with it.

Besides dental hygiene, there are also lifestyle factors that can increase your risk.  For instance, smoking and substance abuse have an absolutely devastating effect on all aspects of oral health.  Medications that cause “dry mouth” will exacerbate gum disease.  Health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease may also be risk factors.  And pregnancy, or fluctuations in female hormones, are also known to cause episodes of gum inflammation.

There are some cases of people who brush and floss routinely and get their regular dental exams, but still develop unusually large amounts of tartar.  Some people may just be genetically predisposed to developing gum disease faster than others.  In such cases, it is particularly important to get regular dental cleanings – perhaps more often than the standard, twice a year recommendation.

Nonsurgical Gum Disease Treatments

Root planing and scaling, otherwise known as a deep dental cleaning, can remove plaque and tartar that has formed underneath the gum line and on the surface of the tooth’s root.  During this process, the surface of the root is smoothed (which helps to inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the tooth) and the periodontal pockets are flushed with medicated rinses.  Root planing and scaling may also be accompanied by local antibiotic therapy.

Surgical Gum Disease Treatments

Gum Graft Surgery

Gum disease may result in the roots of the tooth being exposed; we call this gum recession.  A tissue graft can repair the exposed roots by transplanting a small piece of tissue from the palate or the roof of the mouth.  A tissue graft will not only conceal the recession, but it will prevent future bone loss – and it may reduce tooth sensitivity.  A tissue graft can be done on one tooth, or to several teeth at once to even out the gum line.

Laser Gum Disease Treatments

Laser gum disease treatments offer an impressive range of therapeutic applications.  Though these treatments are typically done by a periodontal specialist, the applications include:

  • removing infected tissues in the gums while leaving healthy tissues intact
  • stimulating the gums’ natural healing and regenerative abilities
  • improving the shape and appearance of the gums
  • reducing bacterial infection
  • reshaping the bone contours around the teeth to reduce the size of periodontal pockets

Other Periodontal Surgeries

If nonsurgical therapies are unable to manage the infection, a periodontist can perform more extensive procedures to remove the diseased tissue and reattach the gums to the bone.

Flap and Osseous Surgery involves gently folding back the gums tissue away from the teeth and bone.  The doctor can then see and access the deep infection.  The tartar is cleaned off the roots of the teeth, and the surface of bone is shaped to be smooth.  The smoothing of the bone is essential to preventing the recurrence of infection.  The gum tissue is then stitched back into place, snugly fit to the new contour of the bone.

Flap surgery may be done in conjunction with regenerative procedures that aim to stimulate the growth of new bone tissue.  The regenerative procedures include: bone grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and tissue stimulating proteins.  For a full explanation of these  procedures, click here.

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