According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, advanced gum disease, also known as periodontitis, affects approximately half of people over the age of 30 in the United States. Despite the prevalence of the condition, tooth loss is one of the unfortunate consequences of leaving the condition untreated. Nowadays, there are many successful treatment options available for advanced gum disease.
Treatment for advanced gum disease
The first step that the dentist will take in treating gum disease is a conservative, nonsurgical procedure called scaling and root planning. The treatment is completed by scraping accumulated plaque and tartar away from the tooth and root surfaces, then smoothing the roots to prevent bacteria from building up again. Depending on the severity of the condition, the procedure may take more than one dental appointment and a local anesthetic is usually used to prevent discomfort.
After the treatment, the gum will start to heal and reconnect to the healthy, tartar-free surfaces of the teeth. After a few weeks, the dentist will assess healing progress and decide if additional treatment is required. If scaling and root planning are not enough, there are other dental procedures that the dentist might recommend to treat gum disease.
Pocket reduction procedure
Typically, after scaling and root planning, the gum tissues should fit snugly around the teeth. If this does not happen, patients will be unable to clean the deep pockets and would likely be recommended for a periodontal pocket reduction, also called flap surgery. The dentist will fold back the gum tissue so they can clean infectious bacteria and smooth parts of damaged bone. This process encourages the gum tissue to reattach to the teeth and healthy bone.
If the tooth roots are exposed due to gum recession, the dentist can perform gum grafts to improve the gum. The process involves taking gum tissue from the palate or other sources and transferring it to the gums to cover one or more teeth. Grafting tissue over the exposed tooth roots minimizes sensitivity and protects the roots from bacteria while preventing further gum recession and bone loss.
These procedures aim to stimulate the growth of bone in areas where the bone has been damaged by gum disease. For this treatment, the dentist will remove bacteria and put a natural or synthetic bone in the area, together with tissue-simulating proteins, to assist the body in regenerating bone and tissue.
Patients who have undergone treatment for gum disease and periodontitis need to understand that excellent home oral hygiene is vital for preventing the reoccurrence of periodontal disease. Since personal oral hygiene is a major part of the gum treatment plan, the dentist will take the time to help their patients understand this and adopt proper brushing and flossing techniques at home. They may also recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce bacteria count in the mouth.
Following gum disease treatment, the dentist will advise the patient to stay proactive by visiting the dental office regularly for checkups and cleaning appointments. When it comes to gum disease, prevention is better than cure.
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