The emphasis of our practice is conservative periodontal therapy. Very often, early stages of periodontal disease are effectively treated with non-surgical periodontal therapy. This involves the removal of bacterial plaque and tartar which is present at and below the gum line.
Periodontal “gum” disease is typically a chronic infection caused by bacteria that works its way under the gum line, destroying the gum and eventually the bone that supports the teeth. Because the bacteria can firmly attach to the tooth roots under the gum line, regular dental cleanings may be inadequate to resolve the infection. In these instances, root planing, commonly referred to as “deep cleanings”, becomes necessary.
Unfortunately, periodontal infections are usually silent, and can be present for many years, without any significant symptoms like pain. This is why regular visits to your periodontist are important especially if other health problems are present, like heart problems or diabetes. However, subtle signs such as red or swollen gums, gums that bleed when brushed or flossed, chronic bad breath or loose teeth can alert you to the presence of gum disease and the need to see a periodontist.
Our practice has made great strides in non-surgical management of periodontal problems. With the following innovative techniques, we are able to achieve periodontal health for many of our patients in a simple, non- invasive and affordable manner.
Scaling and Root Planing
To effectively take care of periodontal disease, the initial treatment is typically scaling and root planing; this treatment exists to remove tartar at or below the gum line. Standard cleanings and polishes only deal with the plaque above the gum line, and these procedures aren’t effective on their own to truly treat gum disease.
“Scaling” is a necessary first step in the treatment process, and it clears the way for a deeper clean. “Root planing” involves cleaning plaque from below the gum line that is most often the culprits in periodontal disease. Local anesthetics are also used to numb the area for greater comfort. Scaling and root planing are a basic approach to effectively treating the disease and allowing the gums and surrounding bone to heal properly. Collectively, these methods represent the fundamentals of non-surgical periodontal therapy.
Once successfully completed, the scaling and root planing procedure should leave patients feeling little or no discomfort. After 6 weeks, the dentist will schedule an appointment to examine the patient’s response to the treatment. If the non-surgical therapy effectively eliminates the gum disease, the only further requirement will be periodic maintenance every 3-4 months. With simple scaling and ultrasonic cleaning, and some home care instructions, the gum disease will be a thing of the past.
Localized placement of medications under the gum line to combat “gum” disease
Your dentist or hygienist may also recommend the simple placement of medications under the gum line to help kill the bacteria that may still exist following a dental cleaning or root planing procedure. Research has shown that patients that have advanced periodontal disease can benefit from the use of these antimicrobial medications but only following scaling and root planing. These products are not effective as standalone treatment and are also not effective for long term control of advanced periodontal disease or with patients who have chronically deep gum pockets. Your periodontist is best trained to determine if this treatment approach will help your specific condition.
For some patients, systemic antibiotics or antimicrobials may be prescribed to be taken orally, to help treat their periodontal disease. Various antibiotics have been used in the past with some degree of success. Research has made a drug available called Periostat™ which can be used to help treat periodontal disease but only when combined with conventional non-surgical therapy. Your periodontist is best trained to determine if this treatment approach will help your specific condition.
Laser periodontal therapy is one of the latest and most exciting techniques being developed for the treatment of periodontal disease. Unfortunately at the current time, and according to our doctors, there is inadequate research available to recommend laser therapy for the treatment of periodontitis. Laser periodontal therapy should never be considered as a substitute for conventional non surgical therapy or as a replacement for periodontal surgery. In addition, research has shown that the use of a laser can damage teeth and gums. Unfortunately, the use of lasers for periodontal therapy is often used as a marketing ploy by uninformed, undiscerning, or unscrupulous dentists, including periodontists.
Damage to the gums and bone support around the upper front teeth following the use of a laser. Notice the loss of gum and bone, which has exposed the tooth roots.