Periodontal disease occurs when a bacterial infection of the gums becomes so severe that it spreads to the roots of the teeth. In severe cases, the infection finds its way to the jawbone.
The treatment of periodontal disease combines medication with the removal of accumulated bacteria, plaque and tartar in the gums, the teeth and the roots. The manual removal of the bacteria, plaque and calculus that cause severe gum disease is done by scaling and root planing.
Innovations in the treatment of periodontal disease now allow dentists to use laser treatments to address the problem. When a dentist proposes laser treatment to patients with severe gum disease, they often have to explain how both laser treatment and traditional scaling and root planing work. They will often make comparisons of the two so that the patient can decide what works best for them.
How periodontal disease occurs
If left to thrive, harmful mouth bacteria create plaque and tartar that coat the teeth as well as the gums. The bacteria also infect these areas, leading to advanced gum disease. Left untreated, the infection spreads to the jawbone and eventually becomes systemic.
A number of factors can cause the disease. Poor oral habits like smoking, poor diet and lax hygiene can lead to gum disease. So can chronic conditions like diabetes and a family history of gum disease.
Treating periodontal disease with scaling and root planing (SRP)
Scaling and root planing is a procedure used to deep clean the outer teeth, the gums and the roots. It serves to remove bacteria, plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. The procedure goes like this:
- The dentist numbs the gums and teeth with local anaesthetic
- Using a dental scaler, the dentist removes plaque, tartar, bacteria as well as the toxins they produce from the outer tooth and the pockets in the gums
- By doing root planing, the dentist then smooths the surface of the teeth’s roots. This encourages the gums to heal, grow and reattach to the roots
Root planing closes deep gum pockets and denies bacteria the surface they need to create plaque and tartar below the gumline.
Gum flap surgery
A periodontal dentist may choose to do a more intensive treatment. They may decide to surgically lift the gum from the teeth’s roots to expose the roots and some of the jawbone in order to do a deeper clean. Here is how the process goes:
- First, the periodontist numbs the mouth
- They then clean the outer teeth before using a scalpel to separate the gums from the teeth
- After lifting the gums to expose the roots and jawbone, the periodontist removes any infected tissue between the teeth and from any holes found in the jawbone
- They do scaling and root planing
- Finally, they suture the gum back in place
The periodontal dentist uses a laser to remove damaged gum tissue at the base of the teeth. The removal exposes the roots for deep cleaning, and the periodontist proceeds to do scaling and root planing. The scaling can be done with hand-held tools or high-tech sonic scaler. Lastly, the gum is left to heal and reattach to the teeth’s roots.
Some treatment protocols use lasers to kill harmful bacteria in the gums, the roots of the teeth and jawbones before plaque and tartar are removed.
Laser treatment vs. traditional treatment for periodontal disease
Here is how laser treatment holds up to traditional SRP and gum flap surgery:
- Laser treatment targets bacteria and infected tissue in the roots and jawbones without any surgery
- Lasers target the diseased tissues with thoroughness and precision
- Because it is non-invasive, laser treatment does not require the use of general anesthetic
- Laser treatment needs less recovery time compared to gum flap surgery
Should you choose laser treatment?
If the dentist presents laser treatment as an alternative to gum flap surgery or traditional rooting and scaling, you should take that option. It is the least invasive option, yet it can stop the earlier stages of gum disease in their tracks.
Ready to tackle gum disease?
If you need treatment for periodontal disease, talk to one of our periodontal dentists and explore your options.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Advanced Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, request an appointment in our Odessa dental office here: https://www.westtexasperio.com. Or call us at (432) 538-3318.
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