Gum or periodontal disease is the infection and inflammation of the gums and bones that hold your teeth in place. It’s caused by bacteria under the gum line that remain after brushing and flossing. These bacteria irritate the gums, causing them to become swollen, tender, and red. Eventually, this can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. If not treated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
After an evaluation by your dentist, you’ll begin treatment. Depending on the stage of gum disease, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following procedures:
Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
At-home treatment can slow or stop the progress of gum disease, but it won’t reverse gum damage that already exists. If you’re not already using an antimicrobial mouth rinse such as Listerine daily to reduce bacteria, a dentist may recommend it.
Brushing and flossing daily: Brushing and flossing remove bacteria and plaque from between teeth, thus preventing damage to the gum tissue. Brush at least twice a day — in the morning and before going to bed at night — using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily, too.
Scaling and root planing (SRP): This non-surgical procedure uses special instruments to clean deep below the gum line and remove plaque and tartar. A dentist may also clean below the gum line with a high-speed dental handpiece, which simultaneously soothes irritated gum tissue with a steady stream of warm air.
After removing hardened plaque and tartar, your dentist may smooth rough tooth surfaces that have been irritated by bacteria. This reduces the chances of new plaque building up on sharp edges.
Dental cleaning: Routine dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. A dentist will use ultrasonic or sonic vibrations to loosen hard deposits and remove them with special instruments.
Surgical or “deep” cleaning: A dentist or hygienist will probe the deepest pockets and clean beneath the gum line with ultrasonic instruments or a dental handpiece. The dentist may also remove plaque, tartar, and inflamed tissue that has built up below the gum line.
If non-surgical treatment isn’t enough, a dentist might recommend surgery to reduce or eliminate pockets, reshape slightly receding gums or remove inflamed tissue.
Gum surgery: Flap surgery, usually done with a local anesthetic, opens the gum tissue to remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line.
Gum grafting: In this surgical procedure, the dentist takes a small piece of tissue from another part of your mouth and uses it to cover exposed tooth roots. This promotes new gum growth over the root surface.
Bone grafts: In some cases, gum disease can erode the jawbone that supports your teeth. The dentist will add bone or synthetic material to replace lost bone in this procedure. It can take up to a year for the jawbone to completely heal.
Guided tissue regeneration (GTR): GTR uses a membrane to encourage gum tissue to form over an exposed root surface. After carefully placing the membrane over the damaged tooth root, your body creates new gum tissue. After about six months, the membrane dissolves and is absorbed by the body.
A dentist at Newbury Dental Group will determine your treatment options during your initial consultation based on the severity of your condition. Our dentist will also ask about your general health and discuss medications you’re taking because some can slow healing. Get the care you need, call us for an appointment today.