If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, you have a variety of treatment options, depending on the particulars of your situation and the severity of the problem. We always start with the least invasive options, which are non-surgical. However, in more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
The first line of defense against the presence of gum disease is a unique type of deeper cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” In this procedure, an ultrasonic cleaning device is used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth where regular cleaning devices can’t reach: under the gum line on the tooth and the root.
Then the rough surface of the tooth and the root are smoothed out (planed). This provides a healthy, clean surface that makes it easier for the gum tissue to re-attach to the tooth.
If you address your gum disease before it becomes severe, scaling and root planing may be the only treatment you need. However, as with any dental procedure, after-care is vital. In order to keep your teeth in good shape, and resist future occurrences of gum disease, you must brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet, avoid tobacco use, and have regular dental checkups and professional tooth cleaning.
Even after a successful scaling and root planing, if you don’t attend to your teeth properly, it’s quite likely you’ll develop gum disease again.
In addition, sometimes a laser can be used to non-surgically decontaminate the gum pockets as a preventive measure. This can only be done in the early stages of gum disease.
Surgical Treatment Options
If the tissue or bone that surrounds your teeth is too damaged to be repaired with non-surgical treatment, several surgical procedures are available to prevent severe damage and restore a healthy smile. We will recommend the procedure that’s best suited to the condition of your teeth and gums.
The following is a list of common types of periodontal surgery. These can be done in conjunction with a laser in some situations.
Lasers can now be used to treat many types of gum diseases. Laser procedures are used every day, by trained and certified dentists, to give excellent results that are minimally invasive and sometimes can be done without sutures. There is very little swelling or discomfort during or after these procedures, because they are minimally invasive.
Pocket Depth Reduction
In a healthy mouth, the teeth are firmly surrounded by gum tissue and securely supported by the bones of the jaw. Periodontal disease damages these tissues and bones, and leaves open spaces around the teeth that we call pockets.
The larger these pockets are, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, which leads to more and more damage over time. Eventually the supportive structure degrades to the point where the tooth either falls out or needs to be removed.
Other pocket-reduction procedures, also known as “flap surgery,” involve folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria hiding underneath, as well as the hardened plaque and tartar that have collected. We may also remove any tissue that is too damaged to survive.
This is often done with the assistance of lasers to decontaminate thoroughly. Then we secure the healthy tissue back into place. Now that the tooth and root are free of bacteria, plaque, and tartar, and the pockets have been reduced, the gums can reattach to the teeth.
When the bone and tissue supporting the teeth has been lost due to severe gum disease, we can restore these areas with a regeneration procedure. During this process, we can treat this in two ways, depending on your situation.
Lasers can be used that are minimally invasive and may or may not require sutures. Or we may begin by folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria, plaque, and tartar.
Depending on your situation, we may then perform a bone graft to stimulate new bone growth, or place a special kind of protein (growth factors) that stimulates tissue growth to repair the areas destroyed by the disease. The type of surgery depends on the degree of destruction and regeneration needed.
Dr. Dalessandro always evaluates thoroughly for your unique needs, and creates a treatment plan specifically for you. The type of surgical procedure is determined by the extent of the disease and what needs to be treated.