Gum disease is a devastating oral health condition, often the result of poor oral hygiene. When diagnosed, it needs prompt treatment. Left ignored too long, and you could end up losing your teeth, and several more complications. Quite often, the solution to gum disease is a surgical procedure. However, surgery is invasive, and can often turn patients away from seeking treatment. John T. Black Jr. DMD PA offers you an alternative treatment to surgery with gum disease therapy.
The Progression of Gum Disease
When gum disease first strikes, it does so silently. The symptoms of the earliest stage, gingivitis, are almost completely unnoticeable. Red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush and floss go ignored. In ignoring these symptoms, the condition only gets worse. Swollen gums pull away from your teeth, creating a gap into which bacteria falls. Once inside your gumline, bacteria begin to attack your jawbone and the supporting structures of your teeth. Your gums begin to recede, your teeth become loose, and they eventually fall out.
Treating Gum Disease without Surgery
Gingivitis is the only stage of gum disease that can be reversed with at home care. Moreover, since gum disease isn’t often diagnosed until it has progressed beyond gingivitis, professional treatment is needed. The sticky substance on your teeth, plaque, which was once easily removed with a toothbrush, hardens into tartar, which is impossible to remove on your own. It is also impossible to remove the bacteria that have fallen below your gum line.
Prophy vs Scaling and Root Planing
Rather than perform an invasive surgical procedure, gum disease therapy includes a treatment known as scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning for your teeth. For scaling, we use a specially designed tool, called a scaler, to remove stubborn tartar from the surfaces of your teeth, as well as between them and under the gum line. Root planing is the smoothing of the root surfaces of your teeth. We remove plaque buildup, along with bacteria and other toxins, leaving a clean, smooth surface that bacteria cannot adhere to. We then administer an antibacterial agent below the gum line to kill off any remaining bacteria. While non-invasive, the procedure can still cause discomfort due to your inflamed gums, so we can administer a local anesthetic if necessary. Once scaling and root planing is complete, we schedule a follow-up visit approximately 6 to 8 weeks later to check on your progress.
In some instances, treatment of scaling and root planing is not enough to stop the damage caused by gum disease, which means your gums cannot heal. If this is the case, we may recommend periodontal maintenance. We schedule regular visits during which we examine the condition of your gums, measure pockets, take X-rays and perform more deep cleaning. The exact frequency of these visits ranges depending upon your specific needs, but in general, they occur about once every three months.
Gum disease is not something that will go away on its own. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, call Dr. Black today to learn more about how gum disease therapy can benefit you.