The Progression of Periodontal Disease
When periodontal disease begins, it is almost completely invisible. It begins as a result of the irritation of your gum tissue by plaque and oral bacteria. When the tissue is irritated, it triggers an inflammatory response, which leads to swelling in the gums. This swelling, redness, and tenderness generally happen when brushing and flossing are often ignored. As the disease progresses, the swollen gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets. Bacteria and other debris fall into these pockets, and cannot be reached with a toothbrush. The bacteria continue to attack the gums (causing further swelling and deeper pockets) and attack the jawbone and periodontal ligaments. Both weaken, which destabilizes your teeth. The teeth become loose and may eventually fall out. What’s more is that bacteria can infiltrate the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, triggering inflammatory responses as they move. This can ultimately contribute to health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a common procedure used to treat periodontal disease. Scaling involves the use of a specialized scaling tooth to remove plaque, tartar (hardened plaque that cannot be removed by brushing), bacteria, and other debris from the surfaces of your teeth, particularly around the gum line. In doing so, this helps to reduce the irritation of the tissue. Root planing is the smoothing of the tooth roots. By smoothing them, plaque, bacteria, and other toxins are removed. It becomes more difficult for anything to adhere to the smoothed surfaces and your gums can begin to reattach and heal.
In some instances, the swelling of your gums may be so severe that it interferes with our ability to perform an effective scaling and root planing. With scaling and root planing, success depends heavily upon our ability to remove all buildup. If anything is left behind, gum disease can easily start up again. In order to remedy this challenge, laser dentistry can be used. Using a laser, we remove the infected gum tissue, which then allows us to perform a thorough scaling and root planing. The laser, which uses a high-intensity beam of light to remove tissue, cauterizes as it cuts, reducing the amount of bleeding you may experience. The laser also aids in reducing the amount of pain and swelling you may experience during your recovery. This is thanks to less tissue manipulation and trauma during the procedure.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
In more advanced stages of gum disease, the periodontal pockets may be too deep for scaling and root planing tools to effectively clean the surfaces of your teeth. Pocket reduction surgery is used to reach these pockets by making incisions in the gums to expose the roots of the teeth as well as the bone. After a thorough cleaning of the teeth, the gums are stitched closed, and your gums can begin to heal.
Soft Tissue and Bone Grafting
Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession, which exposes more of the surface area of your teeth (increasing your risk of tooth decay and affecting your smile). It can also expose the roots of your teeth, which can lead to painful sensitivity. A soft tissue graft uses tissue from elsewhere in your mouth to restore a natural, healthy gumline. Periodontal disease can also lead to bone loss in the jaw, particularly after tooth loss. A bone graft, which involves using bone mass from elsewhere in your body (or from a donor), restores the shape and strength of your jawbone. In the event of tooth loss, a bone graft can make dental implants possible.
If you suspect periodontal disease, don’t ignore the symptoms. Seeking treatment in the early stages can help to prevent the more serious consequences from occurring. For more information, or to schedule your appointment, contact Jon C. Packman DDS today.