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Periodontal (Gum) Treatment

Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory condition which affects the soft tissue surrounding the tooth. It occurs when plaque toxins build-up, irritate and inflame the gum tissues (gingivitis) in the gum pockets between the teeth. The good news is that it can often be treated successfully. If left untreated, periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the developed world.

At Marion Dental Associates, periodontal examination is always part of a regular dental check-up.


Periodontal Examination

A small dental instrument is gently used to measure the pocket or space between the tooth and the gums. A healthy pocket measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. Your dentist or hygienist will use factors such as pocket depth, amount of bleeding, inflammation, and tooth mobility to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis. The first stage of gum disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products in the pocket space irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed. When these irritants remain in the pocket, they can cause damage to the gums and even the bone that supports the teeth.

Periodontitis (Periodontal Pockets). As plaque hardens into tartar, it continues to build up. As the gums begin to recede from the teeth, deeper pockets form and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Some bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis. As the gums, bone, and surrounding tissues continue to be destroyed, teeth lose their support. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Non-surgical Periodontal Treatment

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has occurred, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease is more advanced, a special deep cleaning called “scaling and root planing” will be recommended. After the area is numbed, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from the tooth and root surfaces. This helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications or special medicated mouth rinses may be recommended to help aid healing by controlling infection and pain.

At your next visit, the pocket will be checked to determine the effect of the deep cleaning. At this point, many patients do not need further active treatment, only preventive care.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. Your dentist may also recommend that you see a periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).

Periodontal Maintenance

Plaque that is not removed from your teeth turns into tartar in just 24 hours. Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formations, but those hard to reach areas will always deserve special attention.

Marion Dental Associates recommends that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), up to four times a year, so the pocket depths can be carefully checked to make sure they remain healthy. Plaque and tartar that is difficult for people to remove at home on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.