Everything You Need To Know About Periodontal Therapy
What Is Periodontal Therapy?
Let’s first tell you the meaning of the word “perio”. “Perio” means around, and you know “dontal” refers to your teeth. So, periodontal refers to the structures that support and surround your teeth.
Inflammation and infection of the teeth' supporting tissues
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, refers to a serious inflammatory condition affecting the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum disease puts your oral health at risk and needs urgent care because it can affect your gums, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament.
Periodontal disease has two main stages: Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the early stage and the mild form of gum disease or periodontal disease, which features swollen, red, and bleeding gums. Make sure you visit your dentist as soon as you notice these early signs to prevent the condition from progressing and leading to other possible health problems.
This stage of gum disease has not caused the teeth to become loose yet; they are still firmly positioned in the socket. Bone tissue damage is also not typically observed at this stage. Gingivitis is reversible with practising proper oral hygiene and dental cleaning done by a dental hygienist.
Periodontitis: At its advanced stages, periodontal disease can cause the bone supporting the teeth in the jaw to be lost, leading to loose teeth and eventually tooth loss. Bone loss, gum tissue damage, and loosening of teeth can indicate that gum disease has progressed to more advanced stages.
Unlike gingivitis, chronic periodontitis cannot be reversed.
The Cause Of Gum Disease
Generally speaking, poor oral hygiene and plaque and tartar buildup on and around the teeth and gums are the main culprits of periodontal disease.
Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria forming on the surface of your teeth constantly. Plaque contains bacteria and can damage your tooth enamel if left on your teeth. You should remove plaque regularly by brushing and flossing daily.
Plaque can harden and turn into a hard calcified deposit called tartar or calculus if not removed. Because tartar results from plaque buildup, it contains many bacteria that can hurt your teeth and gums. Hardened tartar can cause irreversible damage to the gums and surrounding bone.
Tartar will form below and above the gum line and can irritate your gums. Tartar will cause more bacterial growth toward the tooth roots. If not addressed, tartar buildup can cause receding gums and periodontal disease. You cannot remove tartar with regular tooth brushing at home. Tartar removal requires professional dental cleaning in the dental office.
Symptoms Of Gum Disease
Below you can see some characteristics of healthy gum tissue:
Healthy gums are firm and not swollen or inflamed. If your gums are healthy, you should not see blood when you brush your teeth or floss between them. Healthy gums are not sensitive and tender to touch. Pink or a darker shade of pink will be the colour of the firm, healthy gums.
Depending on the severity and the stage of gum disease, you may experience the following symptoms:
- swollen gums
- red gums
- bleeding gums
- persistent bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
- tooth sensitivity
- pus coming from between your teeth and gums
- you may feel your teeth or dentures will no longer fit properly
- tooth loss
- gum recession (in severe cases of periodontal disease, your gums will pull away from your teeth)
Risk Factors For Gum Disease
While periodontal disease is relatively common, it’s easily preventable.
People with the following conditions may have an increased risk of developing gum disease:
- poor oral hygiene
- certain medications like cancer therapy drugs, steroids
- some health conditions like diabetes, obesity, vitamin C deficiency
- some hormonal changes such as pregnancy or taking contraceptives
- smoking and any type of tobacco use
Note: If you have a family history of gum disease, make sure you schedule a regular dental visit with your dental expert to ensure a healthy mouth.
How To Treat Periodontal Disease
Treating periodontal disease can significantly improve your oral health. Periodontal therapy can reduce the inflammation and the depth of the pocket between the gums and teeth, restore the health of your gums and prevent your teeth from falling.
Periodontal therapy procedures include nonsurgical treatments and surgical treatments.
Early to moderate stages of periodontal disease can be treated with less invasive procedures like scaling and root planing and antibiotics. The dentist may prescribe antibiotics in the form of gel, oral tablets, or mouthwash.
The first layer of plaque and tartar will be removed from your teeth during a professional dental cleaning by your dental hygienist. Scaling and root planing (conventional periodontal therapy) is a deep cleaning procedure that will remove plaque and calculus from under the gum line.
Hardened tartar will be loosened during scaling using ultrasonic cleaning devices. Root planing will smooth out your tooth root so that gums can reattach to your teeth.
If nonsurgical treatments cannot reduce the depth of the periodontal pockets, the periodontist will have to consider surgical options.
Flap Surgery: Gum flap surgery cleans your tooth roots and can repair bone damage. The procedure is performed to treat and repair periodontal pockets and improve your periodontal health. To perform the surgery, the periodontist or an oral surgeon will create a tiny incision in your gum and lift a section of the tissue to clean your teeth roots and repair the underlying bone. After tartar buildup is removed, the gum flap will be sutured, and the area will be sealed.
Gum Grafting: “Soft tissue grafts” is a surgical operation to address gum recession. A small amount of healthy tissue will be taken from your palate or other donor sources (natural or synthetic bone) and stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root.
Bone Grafting: If your tooth’s supporting bones have been lost due to periodontal disease, a bone graft may be required to prevent tooth loss. Bone grafting is also necessary if the patient has already lost their teeth and requires dental implants.
Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR): Guided tissue regeneration can encourage bone growth by preventing the gum tissues from entering the space where bone loss has occurred.
During the procedure, a resorbable or non-resorbable artificial membrane will be placed between the gum and bone to stop the soft tissue from growing into the site where the new bones are supposed to grow.
Read more about periodontal disease and periodontal treatments here: Gum disease.
How To Prevent Gum Disease
You can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease by eliminating the risk factors.
An essential and easy step will be practising good oral hygiene and arranging regular dental checkups every six months to ensure dental health.
Keep your teeth and gums healthy by following these practical easy-to-do instructions.
- Brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush is crucial to removing dental plaque.
- Do not forget to use fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
- Make sure you floss daily to eliminate food particles left between your teeth.
- Using a therapeutic mouthwash can help reduce plaque buildup.
- Rinse your mouth after having sugary foods and drinks.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Can Gum Disease Cause Other Health Problems?
Yes! It may. Gum disease left untreated can affect your oral and overall health.
However, gum disease seems to increase the risk of some systemic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, premature births or low-birth-weight babies (pregnancy complications), stroke, and cancer.
Have you read our article about the relationship between diabetes and gum disease? Here’s the link Diabetes and gum disease