Periodontal (gum) Therapy

Periodontal therapy is recommended for the treatment of periodontal diseases (gum diseases).

What are Periodontal Diseases?

Periodontal diseases are infections just below the gum line of your teeth. These infections attack the tissues that support your teeth. They cause the break down of the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues. As a result of this the affected gum area develops into a pocket. The depth of the pocket increases with the severity of the disease.

Depending on severity, there are two major stages for periodontal diseases – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form; it only affects the gums. If gingivitis is not taken care by proper dental care, it may lead to the more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

What causes Periodontal Diseases?

There are several causes as well as risk factors for periodontal diseases. The major culprits are:

  • Smoking: Smoking is significant risk factors for development of periodontitis. It can also lower the chances of success of some treatments.
  • Physiological conditions such as Pregnancy and Puberty: These conditions can make gums more sensitive and therefore easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Diabetes: Diabetics are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease.
  • Certain Medications: Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. This in turn deprives gums and teeth of the natural protective effects of saliva.
  • Certain Diseases: Diseases like cancer, AIDS and their treatments can affect the health of gums.
  • Stress: Research has shown that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
  • Genetics: Some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease than others.

Your treatment options for Periodontal diseases

Gingivitis: Gingivitis is generally noticed by your gums becoming red or swollen and bleeding while brushing. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good at home oral care.

Periodontitis: There are several ways to treat periodontitis, depending on its severity. The goal of periodontitis treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets of bacteria and to prevent further damage. If you are diagnosed with periodontitis, depending on the severity of the damage, your dentist at Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental will develop the treatment plan that is right for you.

Non-surgical treatments:

Your dentist at Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental will recommend non-surgical treatment if your periodontitis is mild. The common non-surgical treatment options include:

Scaling: Scaling is to remove tartar and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and from below your gums. It may be performed using instruments or an ultrasonic device.

Root planing: Root planing is to smoothen the root surfaces, to minimize further buildup of tartar.
Antibiotics: Sometimes, oral antibiotics may be necessary to completely eliminate infection-causing bacteria.

Surgical treatments:

Your dentist at Dr. Thanos Kristallis & Associates at Washington Metro Center Dental will recommend surgical treatment if your periodontitis is severe. The common surgical treatment options include:

Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery): In this procedure, tiny incisions are made in your gum so that a section of gum tissue can be lifted back to expose the roots for better scaling and planing. If there is bone loss associated with your periodontitis, the underlying bone may be recontoured before suturing the gum tissue back in place. This procedure generally takes from one to three hours and is performed under local anesthesia.

Soft tissue grafts: When the periodontal disease causes loss of gum tissue, it will cause your gum-line to recede. Your teeth will appear longer than normal. If this occurs the damaged tissue may have to be replaced. Generally this is done by removing a small amount of tissue from the roof of your mouth (palate) and attaching / grafting it to the affected site. An allograft can also be used. This reduces the need for a second surgical site and reduces the morbidity significantly. This treatment can help reduce further gum recession. It will also cover exposed roots and it gives your teeth a more esthetically pleasing appearance.

Bone grafting: This treatment is done when periodontitis has destroyed the bone surrounding your tooth root.

The success of any periodontal treatment is also dependent on you adopting a daily good oral care routine.