If you have been diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease, your dentist will plan your treatment based on the level of disease you are experiencing.
At early stages of the disease, you may only have to improve your oral hygiene practices and have a dental deep clean to get your gum health back on track. On the other hand, if your periodontal disease is at a more advanced stage, you may require root planning and surgery to treat, manage and prevent further progression.
Plaque, the most common cause of periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is basically a chronic gum infection that is initially caused by long term plaque and poor oral care habits. When plaque is not completely removed and allowed to mature, it hardens into tartar (calculus) which cannot be removed by brushing alone. Without a professional dental clean & scale, untreated tartar can start penetrating the gum line, causing gum inflammation and the onset of an early form of gum disease called gingivitis. From there, it can progress to more severe periodontal disease stages.
Other risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, diabetes, certain medications and hormonal changes (in women).
The 4 treatment steps for periodontal disease
When you get treated for periodontal disease, your dentist performs a number of treatment steps to help eliminate, manage and prevent gum infection. The 4 treatment steps typically involved to get your gums healthy include:
- Step 1: Establishing an effective oral care and hygiene routine. Your dentist will help you fine tune your home oral care routine to ensure that you effectively remove plaque on a daily basis.
- Step 2: Professional dental deep cleaning. Your dentist, hygienist or periodontist will perform a deep clean and scale to remove all plaque and tartar. This treatment step is non-surgical and may involve the use of dental hand, laser and ultrasonic tools above and below the gum line. Antibiotics and a recovery period may be required before further treatment, and if this step is successful, patients can skip to the 4th treatment step. In some cases though, a 3rd treatment step may be required.
- Step 3: Surgical periodontal treatment. Step 2 may be repeated but when deep periodontal pockets are not eliminated and severe symptoms persist, surgical periodontal treatment options may be recommended. Dental surgery can improve access to tooth roots for easier cleaning, regenerative procedures and tissue grafting for severe gum tissue and bone loss.
- Step 4: Supportive periodontal care. When your periodontal disease treatment is completed successfully, you move into a periodontal maintenance program stage. Your dentist will monitor the condition of your gums with regular checkups and ensure your oral care routine is optimal to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease.