Periodontal disease, or simply gum disease, is the single most common cause of tooth loss in adults. This inflammatory disease attacks the gums, bone, and other supporting structures of the teeth.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a colorless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Plaque mixes with sugars and starches in the diet to form acids and other by-products in the mouth, irritating the gums and causing them to become red, tender and swollen. It also causes the gums to bleed easily. If not removed daily, plaque hardens to form calculus (tartar) around the necks (tops) of the teeth.
The tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth can be destroyed by the irritants in plaque. When this happens, the gums pull away from the teeth and small pockets form between the teeth and gums. These pockets become filled with more plaque. As pockets deepen, it becomes difficult for you to clean the plaque out. Eventually, the bone structure supporting the teeth can be destroyed, resulting in tooth loss.
How to Treat Gum Disease
The type of gum disease treatment you may require depends on how advanced your particular case is. Individualized treatment may include any of the following:
- More frequent cleanings: it may take the bacteria at the base of the pocket up to three months to colonize into numbers able to destroy bone. Frequent cleanings can prevent this buildup.
- Scaling and root planing: scaling is removing the calculus deposits from your teeth. Root planing is the smoothing of the root surfaces so that the gum tissue can reattach to the tooth.
- Curettage: removes the soft tissue lining the periodontal pocket. This helps the gum tissue to heal.
- Gingivectomy: the surgical removal of the periodontal pocket to allow easier access for cleaning.
- Flap surgery: allows the dentist to gain access to the root of the tooth for removal of calculus, plaque and diseased tissue. The gum is then secured back into place and will heal naturally.
Laser Bacterial Reduction for Gum Disease
The laser is a valuable new instrument that we use as a part of the treatment of periodontal disease. Laser light energy is used to eliminate the bacteria and infected tissue in the deepened gum pocket. Laser bacterial reduction is used in addition to ultrasonic and hand-scaling instruments at the time of scaling and root planning treatment.
There are many benefits to using laser treatment for gum disease:
- Reduced or eliminated bacteria that can cause the loss of attachment to surrounding structures
- Minimized bleeding
- Controlled swelling
- Little, if any, postoperative discomfort
- Improved overall health
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