Periodontal disease is caused by infections of the gum tissue in the mouth. These infections are the result of bacteria in dental plaque.
In the early stages of periodontal disease (gingivitis), gum tissues may appear swollen and may also bleed.
At this stage, the disease process is reversible, but if not treated the condition can worsen, resulting in periodontitis.
Periodontitis can cause permanent damage to gums and the bone supporting teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can result in tooth loss. There is also evidence linking periodontitis and other health concerns such as cardiovascular disease.
The severity of periodontal disease is determined using dental x-rays and by measuring pocket depths. Diseased gum tissue can pull away from teeth and form “pockets” that provide a trap for plaque and bacteria.
Once the extent of the disease process is assessed, there are several options available for treating periodontal disease:
Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatment (Scaling and Root Planing), Periodontal Pocket Reduction Surgery, and Laser Periodontal Therapy.
Choose one of the treatment options below to learn more.
Scaling and Root Planing is usually performed by a dental hygienist.
Our skilled hygienists focus on education as much as treatment. During Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatment, the patient will learn about periodontal disease, how it occurs and the proper ways to brush and floss to keep the teeth and gums healthy.
The hygienist and the doctor work together to keep the patient comfortable* while plaque and bacteria are removed from the tooth surfaces above and below the gums. This helps to stop the damaging action that leads to periodontal pocketing and ultimately to tooth loss.
*Conscious sedation options are available.
More advanced periodontal disease requires surgical intervention in order to remove the disease-causing bacteria.
Once the diseased site is exposed by reflecting the gum tissue, it is thoroughly cleaned and the bony surfaces smoothed to reduce the areas that were trapping plaque and bacteria. Sutures close the surgical site and allow for healing.
Laser technology offers an alternative to traditional Periodontal Pocket Reduction Surgery for some patients. Your periodontist will determine which treatment is best for you.
In Laser Periodontal Therapy, a laser is used to provide access to the pocket area and then ultrasonic and hand instruments are incorporated to treat the root surfaces. The laser emits short pulses of energy at specific frequencies to remove infected tissue and to kill the bacteria causing the infection. The laser is then used again to complete the debridement process and create blood clotting, which fosters an environment that promotes healing. Incisions and sutures are not required with laser therapy. The laser is extremely safe and recovery time is short and often pain-free.
1. Laser selectively removes pocket lining
2. Ultrasonic and hand instruments clean root surfaces
3. Laser disinfects pocket and seals the wound
4. Tissue is compressed against the tooth
5. Healing results in new attachment
Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that recontours the gum tissue and often the underlying bone surrounding one or more teeth so that an adequate amount of healthy tooth is exposed. As shown in these pictures, excess tissue was removed to show more of the crown of the teeth.
Crown lengthening is often used as part of a treatment plan for a tooth that is to be fitted with a crown. This procedure provides the necessary space between the supporting bone and crown, preventing the new crown from damaging gum tissues and bone.
Crown lengthening may also be recommended in order to make a restorative procedure possible. If a tooth is badly worn, decayed or fractured below the gum line, crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone levels to gain access to more of the tooth so it can be restored.