Periodontal disease affects both your teeth and your gums. It appears in the form of red, swollen gums that may or may not be receding. If it’s left unchecked, your teeth can become loose and may even fall out. This is why you need to know exactly what periodontal disease is and how it is treated. Only then will you know when you have it and when to go to the dentist.
A General Cleaning May Not Be Enough
A general cleaning – one performed by a trained dental hygienist – may clear up plaque, the main thing that causes periodontal disease. However, it may not be enough. These cleanings are designed to prevent the plaque from building up in the first place and will stop the periodontal disease from forming. They aren’t meant to clear out all signs of extremely built-up plaque that has gotten deep into your gum line. For this reason alone, a general cleaning, the kind that you need to have done every six months, isn’t a good enough treatment.
It Might Involve Lasers and Other High Tech Equipment
Periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up, invites in bacteria, and then erodes the gum line. It forms little pockets of bacteria that make things worse. In order to treat this disease, some high tech tools are needed, in the form of lasers and ultrasonic equipment. They will clean your teeth completely, removing all traces of the plaque and hopefully the bacteria. Why do dentists need to resort to these high tech lines of treatment? The answer is: mostly because the periodontal disease is very persistent. Once the plaque has essentially taken root in your mouth, removing it can be tricky. A simple scaling process with handheld instruments, like the ones used by a dental hygienist isn’t enough to take care of the problem.
You Might Need Gum Surgery
There are several different types of gum surgery that are used to treat periodontal disease. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, you might one or more of these options. For example, if your gums have receded badly, they won’t grow back in place. They’ll have to be surgically repaired. This is done by taking tissue from the roof of your mouth and stitching it into place along your gum line. If you have enough tissue underneath the area of gums that have receded, an oral surgeon might be able to scrape them up and adhere them into place around the roots of your teeth. These are both extreme options.
If your periodontal disease has progressed, but not terribly so, you might just be a candidate for gum pocket surgery. This opens up your gums to the laser plaque removal treatments. The dentist or oral surgeon simply slices your gums and peels them back. They treatments take place, then medication is dropped into the open gums before they are stitched back up. This doesn’t require transplanting tissue and just uses your existing gums.
Bone Implants Can Help Your Teeth Stay in Place
Another surgical treatment for periodontal surgery consists of bone implants. In extreme cases, the bone that holds the teeth in place may have become damaged and decayed. It is no longer strong enough to do its job. The roots of your teeth may be damaged as well. This can lead to them becoming loose and falling out. This surgery fixes both of those problems. The surgeon will use bits of donor bone to repair the missing or weakened bone structures. They’re adhered into place, and then the gums are stitched around them. Over time, the bones will strengthen and will be back to their formerly healthy state.
There Are Medications That You May Be Prescribed
Sometimes the lasers and other equipment aren’t enough to kill all of the bacteria that has adhered to the plaque in your mouth. This is where prescription medications and mouthwashes come into play. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed and can get rid of that bacteria. You also might be prescribed an antimicrobial mouthrinse. This should be used following any instructions from your dentist. This mouthrinse (or mouthwash, as you were) is designed to kill off any organisms that are causing your gum recession. While it may not taste good, it is necessary. The entire point of these prescriptions is to take care of any additional organisms that might begin to grow again and interrupt the healing process. They are commonly prescribed after gum surgery as well since they will help you heal slightly faster.
Some of these periodontal treatments are performed by a regular dentist, but others are only done by a specialist. You may be referred to an oral surgeon or periodontist in order to have them performed. However, having a healthy mouth is worth it, as you need your teeth in great working (chewing) condition.