When it comes to oral hygiene, most of us are concerned and mostly focused on our teeth. Little do we realize that our equally essential gum health is often easily overlooked. The peculiar thing about gum diseases is that it sneakily creeps up and is usually painless because of which it can go unnoticed. A mild form of gum disease is called gingivitis, and a more severe form of the same is called periodontitis. The catch is that when it comes to gum diseases, not spotting it early on, can sometimes lead to severe consequences.
Treatments for gum diseases range from non-surgical therapies that are meant to control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.
- Dental clean-ups: On any typical dental check-up, your dentist will recommend the removal of plaque and tartar that builds up over time. These deposits should be removed by a professional above and below the gum line of your teeth. Usually, during this time, a dentist can spot any problems; however, such cleanings are not considered treatments for active gum disease, though they are essential for preventative care.
- Scaling and root planing: This is a deep-cleaning procedure that often requires the application of local anesthesia. Here the plaque and tartar are scraped from above and below the gum line, and certain rough spots on the tooth root are smoothened. This is done in order to remove the bacteria to provide a smooth surface to re-attach the gums back to the root. This is a procedure done under the discretion of the dentist.
- Flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery: In this procedure, the gums are lifted up, and the built-up tartar is removed. Sometimes, the irregular surfaces of the damaged bone attached to the tooth are smoothened out. What this does is that it limits the spaces where the bacteria can hide. The gums are then placed back in a manner so that it fits snugly around the tooth. This reduces the space between the gum and tooth also limits the areas where harmful bacteria can grow. The chance of serious health problems that can arise from periodontal disease is also reduced.
- Soft tissue grafts: The graft here strengthens thin gums or fills in areas where gums have receded (regions where the tooth root has been exposed). The grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is then stitched in place.
- Bone grafts: Here, fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone are used. Grafts are used for the purpose of replacing bone to help the bone regrow – in areas destroyed by periodontal disease. This is intended to restore the secure attachment of one’s teeth to the bone. Tissue engineering is another procedure, and it prompts your own body to create a new bone and tissue at a fast rate.
- Bone surgery: Bone surgery smoothens craters in the bone, which is caused due to moderate to advanced bone loss. Here flap surgery is required where the bone around the tooth is refigured to decrease these craters, which prevent bacteria from collecting.
- Guided tissue regeneration: This procedure is performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been severely weakened. Here both bone and gum tissue growth is stimulated. Generally done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is introduced between the bone and gum tissue. This prevents the gum tissue from growing into space where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.