Periodontal diseases are infections found in the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In their earliest stages, infection (otherwise known as gingivitis) is limited to the gums, but this alone is a major contributor to tooth loss in adults. If not dealt with promptly, then the problem can quickly spread to other tissues, making the situation far more complicated to rectify.
Thankfully most dentists offer a range of services to help improve and maintain healthy gums, and these are referred to as periodontal therapies. If caught early enough, in many cases the infection can be halted and reversed without the need for invasive surgery. However, in cases where the disease has progressed, surgical intervention may be necessary. There are specific therapies that may be recommended in either case. Let’s take a look at these now.
Non-surgical Periodontal Therapies
These can include:
Administration of localized antibiotics that target infections below the gum line
Deep cleaning of the gums, which reduces bacteria debris and inflammation below the gum line. This means that there is a perfectly clean, smooth surface that the gum can reattach to, reducing pocket depth
Diagnosis of oral lesions and soft tissue biopsy
Regular maintenance cleaning appointments
Periodontal appliances that may be required (such as bite guards)
Surgical Periodontal Therapies
These can include:
Bone graft surgery (to prepare for dental implants)
Crown lengthening by recontouring the gum tissue so that more of the enamel is exposed. This is also sometimes undertaken as a cosmetic procedure as some people feel embarrassed by having too much gum showing.
Pocket reduction surgery to reduce the space between the tooth and the gum
Ridge augmentation to restore the natural contour of the jawbone
Soft tissue grafts
Periodontal therapies are very common solutions to a variety of dental problems, but that doesn’t mean that they are right for everyone. Here are some of the benefits and risks of both surgical and non-surgical periodontal therapy.
Benefits of Periodontal Therapy
Periodontal therapy has long been considered an excellent method of keeping the oral cavity in good health and protect against gum disease. Some of the key benefits are:
A beautiful smile. It’s not just your teeth that make your smile great, your gums play an important part too. Periodontal therapy can ensure you have clean, healthy-looking gums that give you the confidence to smile wide!
Fresh breath. Persistent bad breath (known as halitosis), is a key indicator of gum disease, and is caused by the build-up of rotting food particles below the gum line, bacteria and plaque. Periodontal therapy can alleviate these problems and leave you with naturally fresh breath.
Identification of other health problems. The oral cavity can actually tell your dentist a lot about your overall health and regular periodontal appointments will allow your dentist to do thorough examinations of your mouth, meaning that any potential problems can be picked up on really quickly.
Tartar removal. Tartar and plaque can build up both above and below the gum line, and left untreated, can cause serious dental problems. Tartar and plaque can’t always be identified and dealt with independently, and as such, regular professional checks are important to your long term oral health.
Risks of Periodontal Therapy
The risks associated with periodontal therapies are variable depending on which type of treatment you have. However, they are all generally considered extremely safe courses of treatment, with the only real risk being one of possible infection as a result of work on the gum (as opposed to infection caused by periodontal disease!).
We highly recommend that you consult with your dentist regarding your unique dental needs, as he/she will be best placed to advise you if there are any specific risks that you should be aware of.