Treating Advanced Periodontal Disease
Gum disease: It’s one of the leading causes of tooth loss.
Gum (or periodontal) disease is common, but it’s serious. Periodontal disease starts by eating away at the soft tissues in your mouth, and after a while it goes on to destroy surrounding bone, causing irreversible damage.
The key is to detect periodontal disease in its earliest stages and to start treatment right away. However, if you are concerned that you have developed more severe gum disease, don’t lose hope. We have treatments available that will restore as much of your smile as possible.
How Periodontitis Develops
Gum disease starts with poor oral hygiene. Bacteria secrete toxins and mix with food and saliva to form what we know as plaque. This plaque builds up on the tooth, along the base of the teeth, and into the crevices where the teeth and gums align.
Acids in the plaque begin to erode the enamel and gum tissue. The gums pull away from the teeth, creating a pocket. This pocket becomes a nice home for bacteria, and these bacteria feast on the plaque. Minerals in your saliva harden the plaque into a substance called tartar. This tartar becomes a wall to hide the plaque, making it impossible to remove the bacteria through brushing.
While all this is happening, the body sends a distress message and immune cells rush in to fight off the bacteria. This fighting causes inflammation and infection that damage the gums. We call this first stage of gum disease gingivitis, which is reversible.
As the infection deepens further and further into the gum tissue, it begins to attack the bone. By the time periodontal disease has caused bone loss, the damage cannot be reversed and the gum disease has progressed to periodontitis. Periodontitis is generally divided into mild, moderate, and severe categories. The category is determined by how big the gum pockets are and how much damage has been done to the surrounding areas.
What are some signs periodontitis is in the advanced stage?
While you’re reading this, you may be thinking, this sounds like it must hurt a lot! However, periodontal disease is sneaky. One of the reasons it’s such a major problem is because it doesn’t usually hurt. And it continues this way up until the very late stages.
Besides experiencing more pain, some other signs you might be dealing with advanced periodontitis include:
- Gum recession: You can see part way up the roots of your teeth.
- Worsening bad breath.
- Teeth aren’t aligning properly.
- Pain when biting and chewing.
- Mouth sores.
- Loosening teeth.
- Eventually, tooth loss.
Gum disease puts your entire health at risk.
While you might think the worst thing that could happen is losing your natural teeth, there are other consequences to periodontitis.
Harmful bacteria and parasites that caused the gum disease begin to make their way to your bloodstream, which wreaks havoc in your entire body. There’s a direct link between gum disease and certain health problems, such as respiratory disease and heart disease.
Treatment of gum disease is essential, important, and needs to be done right away. The sooner you get started with treatment, the better your chances are of a good outcome. Here are some of the steps your dentist may take to treat periodontal disease.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options are tried first.
A deep cleaning is the first step to treating periodontitis. If you have mild to moderate periodontitis, this may be the only necessary treatment.
There are two steps involved in deep cleanings: scaling, which involves scraping out the plaque and bacteria,; and planing, which is the process of smoothing down the roots of your teeth to discourage future bacteria from clinging to it. Topical or systemic antibiotics may also be used to ward off the infection.
Surgeries for periodontitis may be required in more severe cases.
For advanced periodontitis, surgery may be required. Some of the procedures include:
Pocket reduction surgery: In this procedure, the gums are gently lifted back and the buildup of tartar is cleaned out. Bacteria is removed from the roots of the teeth. With the aid of a soft tissue laser, only the diseased tissue is removed. Damaged, rough, and irregular bone surfaces are smoothed to discourage future bacteria from reattaching.
Soft tissue graft: This procedure involves transplanting healthy tissue into places where there is severe gum recession.
Bone grafting: This procedure involves using fragments of your own bone, donor bone, or synthetic bone to restore bone that has been destroyed. Tissue engineering may be used during a bone graft to help repair the bone. Dr. Naik uses a soft tissue laser for better results.
The dental laser is one of the latest technologies in dentistry, and Dr. Naik and his team use the Geminisoft Laser. The laser targets the pigment in the bad bacteria, enabling the diseased tissue to be removed precisely and accurately. Dental lasers encourage oxygenation to the tissues, which aids in the process of healing. The laser also seals off blood vessels and nerves, meaning you’ll experience less postoperative pain and bleeding.
Because dental lasers are so precise and gentle, you may not need the anesthetics that are normally used for this kind of procedure. Ultimately, periodontal surgery that’s conducted with a laser means you have a greater likelihood of being able to keep your natural teeth.
Life After Periodontal Disease Treatment
If periodontal disease is caught and treated early, there will be a greater chance of a better outcome. Your age plays a role. How well you take care of your teeth afterwards is a huge factor—if you go back to doing the same things you were doing before, the gum disease will return.
There isn’t a cure for periodontitis. However, surgeries and treatments are excellent ways to repair a lot of the damage gum disease causes. A couple of years after initial surgery, you may begin to experience some regrowth of bone. And if treatment effectively stopped the infection, your teeth should last for many more happy years. If you want to learn more about how Dr. Naik and his team treat periodontal disease, reach out to us for a consultation.