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When Do Dentists Suggest Periodontal Treatment

Man holding his lower lip down to show his bottom teeth and gums

Dentists suggest periodontal treatment because it is a conservative, non-surgical way to stop the progression of periodontitis and improve oral health. Non-surgical solutions like scaling and planing are effective during the initial stages of periodontal disease and can be beneficial in:

  • Preventing tooth loss
  • Maintaining good oral health
  • Improving bone health
  • Reducing the risk of other serious medical conditions
  • Removing calcified plaque and tartar buildup (dental calculus)

Periodontal disease is highly preventable, but, should it develop, it is also highly treatable with treatments like periodontal therapy from Norman Smile Center. While existing damage cannot be reversed, periodontal therapy like scaling and root planing can keep the disease from worsening and help protect your dental health.

Led by Drs. Kristen Campbell and Donna Sparks, Norman Smile Center has been helping patients in and around the Norman, Oklahoma, area for more than 30 years protect their teeth and gums from the damage of periodontal disease. In addition to compassionate and comprehensive dental care services, Norman Smile Center also offers the latest in precision dentistry, digital imaging, diagnostics, and advanced techniques and procedures for more accurate diagnoses, integrative treatment plans, and better patient outcomes.

The Problem with Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the primary causes of tooth loss among US adults and it affects almost half of Americans over the age of 30. It develops gradually as a result of harmful oral bacteria that has hardened into tartar and plaque that can’t be removed with regular brushing. This tartar and plaque facilitate the spread of bacteria as well as infection, deterioration, and recession in the gum tissue around the roots of the teeth, causing gum pockets. The pockets collect and trap more bacteria, making the inflammation and infection worse.

When infection compromises the health of your gums, it can enter the bloodstream and spread to other areas of your body, including the heart, and studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and higher rates of cardiovascular problems. The infection and inflammation that results from periodontitis can also increase the risk of or exacerbate other medical conditions like lung infections, stroke, and diabetes, and it has been linked to premature birth in women.

Periodontal Treatment: A Proactive Solution to Preserve Your Oral Health

The primary goal of periodontal therapy is to stop the progression of the disease and prevent further damage to the teeth and gums without the need for surgery. Treatment for the early stages of periodontal disease focuses primarily on a non-invasive procedure called scaling and root planing, or SRP. SRP involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from around the tooth’s surface below the gumline and consists of:

  • Professional cleaning. As with all periodontal therapies, SRP begins with a professional dental cleaning to remove the first layer of hardened plaque and tartar.
  • Scaling. Also referred to as deep cleaning, scaling uses an ultrasonic cleaning device to break down hardened dental calculus resulting from a buildup of plaque and tartar.
  • Root planing. Root planing smooths out any rough spots that may be affecting the tooth root. Smoothing these areas removes any bacteria that could be hiding in the crevices of the tooth’s surface, ensuring the gums have a clean, smooth surface to reattach to.
  • Medications. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic gel or mouth rinse to reduce bacteria growth in the mouth, ease swollen gums, and reduce periodontal pockets.

Periodontal disease can be episodic in nature and once you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, you are more susceptible to recurrent disease, so after the scaling and root planing is performed, the dentist will likely recommend a maintenance phase of treatment, during which supportive periodontal therapy appointments are conducted every 3 months to control bacterial infection and prevent further damage in severe cases of gum disease. Establishing continued and routine care is key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Depending on the severity or stage of your gum disease, your SRP procedure may take more than one visit. You may also be a candidate for additional gum therapy treatments, such as:

•  Antibacterial treatments, which consist of oral antibiotics or an antibiotic mouth rinse administered with deep cleaning or pocket reduction to fight inflammation and infection.

•  Gum grafts and reshaping, a process in which tissue is taken from a healthy area of the mouth and grafted over areas damaged by gum disease.

•   Periodontal flap therapy (pocket reduction), a procedure that closes the pockets around the base of the teeth caused by gum disease.

Good Candidates for Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal treatment is typically the first line of treatment for early periodontitis, one of the first stages of gum disease that is characterized by at least one tooth with a pocket of 4 mm, or 3 mm of gum attachment loss. Roughly 10% of people with periodontitis are at this stage of the disease.

Periodontal therapy is also effective in treating gingivitis—which is essentially inflammation of the gums but can progress into periodontal disease—as well as moderate chronic periodontitis, the most common stage of gum disease among US adults.

A dentist may suggest periodontal treatment for you if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with gum disease
  • Are showing signs of the onset of gum disease (i.e. early symptoms such as redness, inflammation, tooth sensitivity or bleeding gums)
  • Have other risk factors for developing gum disease, such as smoking or tobacco use, diabetes, if you are pregnant, or if you are on certain medications that can affect your oral health

How a Dentist Decides if You Need Periodontal Treatment

Early detection is crucial to successful periodontal treatment, so regular exams and cleanings are necessary for identifying potential problems before they develop into more advanced stages, and the best treatment plan for you will depend on the severity of your condition as well as a variety of other factors. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, it is important to see an experienced dental professional for an evaluation and to determine what might be your next best course of action.

Only a dentist can determine when and if you need gum therapy. That’s why routine checkups, exams, and cleanings play such a crucial role in maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. During your appointment, the dentist will take a close look at your gums to look for any swelling, bleeding, or discoloration. If you have begun to develop gum pockets, the dental hygienist will also measure them using a thin device that slides between the gum and tooth. Healthy gum measures are 1-3 mm without bleeding; areas measuring deeper than 3-5 mm with bleeding will likely require scaling and planing.

At Norman Smile Center, the dentists also use advanced technology like intraoral cameras and digital x-rays to further assess the inside of your mouth and even show you areas of concern. Imaging capabilities like these allow the dentist to gain a better, faster, and more thorough understanding of the condition of your oral health, ensuring a more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment plan.

Protect Your Oral Health with Periodontal Treatment from Norman Smile Center

Preventative, proactive oral hygiene is an important part of preserving your overall health. Although it is largely preventable and highly treatable, undiagnosed periodontal disease will only worsen, and the longer you wait to address it the harder it becomes to treat and the more harm it poses to your health, making early action absolutely essential.At  Norman Smile Center, we believe it’s never too late to take better care of your oral health. From preventative care like routine cleanings to restorative procedures like periodontal treatment and gum therapy, we offer the best in local, professional, and affordable dental services. Don’t wait another day to give your gums the attention they deserve; call us at 405-329-6603 to schedule your appointment or use our convenient online contact form.