Non-Surgical Dental Treatments
Periodontal treatment guidelines stress that periodontal health should be achieved in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner. This is often accomplished through non-surgical periodontal treatment, including scaling and root planing (a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins), followed by adjunctive therapy such as local delivery antimicrobials and host modulation, as needed on a case-by-case basis.
Most periodontists would agree that after scaling and root planing, many patients do not require any further active treatment, including surgical therapy. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health. Non-surgical therapy does have its limitations, however, and when it does not achieve periodontal health, surgery may be indicated to restore periodontal anatomy damaged by periodontal diseases and to facilitate oral hygiene practices.
If you're diagnosed with periodontal disease, your periodontist may recommend periodontal surgery. Periodontal surgery is necessary when your periodontist determines that the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical treatment.
Pocket Depth Reduction
Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth.
Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted.
You may have asked your periodontist about procedures to improve a “gummy” smile because your teeth appear short. Your teeth may actually be the proper lengths, but they're covered with too much gum tissue. To correct this, your periodontist performs crown lengthening.
During this procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
Your dentist or periodontist may also recommend crown lengthening to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. Perhaps your tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or has insufficient tooth structure for a restoration, such as a crown or bridge. Crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth so it can be restored.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Whether you have crown lengthening to improve function or aesthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating, and speaking with comfort and confidence.
Soft Tissue Grafts
Periodontal procedures are available to stop further dental problems and gum recession, and/or to improve the esthetics of your gum line.
Exposed tooth roots are the result of gum recession. Perhaps you wish to enhance your smile by covering one or more of these roots that make your teeth appear too long. Or, maybe you're not bothered by the appearance of these areas, but you cringe because the exposed roots are sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids.
Your gums may have receded for a variety of reasons, including aggressive tooth brushing or periodontal disease. You may not be in control of what caused the recession, but prior to treatment your periodontist can help you identify the factors contributing to the problem. Once these contributing factors are controlled, a soft tissue graft procedure will repair the defect and help to prevent additional recession and bone loss.
Soft tissue grafts can be used to cover roots or develop gum tissue where absent due to excessive gingival recession. During this procedure, your periodontist takes gum tissue from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gumline and reduce sensitivity.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
A soft tissue graft can reduce further recession and bone loss. In some cases, it can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. This may reduce tooth sensitivity and improve esthetics of your smile. Whether you have a soft tissue graft to improve function or esthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating, and speaking with comfort and confidence.
Non-surgical therapy removes plaque and calculus by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and by treating conditions that encourage gum disease. This type of treatment may be all that's needed, especially when periodontal disease is caught early. You may also need to have certain procedures, such as replacing worn fillings or crowns with overhanging margins that can accumulate plaque, taken care of before periodontal therapy can begin.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling is a type of cleaning that removes plaque and calculus from the teeth at and slightly below the gumline. Root planing smooths root surfaces, so the supportive tissues can better reattach to the tooth surface. Often, this will be done with local anesthesia so you can relax and feel nothing as we rehabilitate your gums.
Periodontal disease is a bacterial disease and the key to controlling or eliminating it is the effective reduction or elimination of the harmful bacteria. An adjunctive option to scaling and root planing may be provided in either pill form or applied directly to the infected area (gum pocket) in the form of antibiotic powder. An antibacterial mouth rinse also may be prescribed to help control the harmful effects of and reduce bacterial plaque.
An improper bite or a traumatic occlusion may increase bone destruction attached to such offending teeth. We may either choose to adjust your bite so that your teeth meet properly and function better or construct a custom bite guard or splint—a removable device that fits over upper or lower teeth—to protect teeth surfaces and relax tense jaw muscles.