What is periodontal surgery?
Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease - is brought about by bacterial infections which affect the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. This is potentially a very serious condition, and if it’s allowed to go unchecked, it can eventually lead to tooth loss.
The solution is a combination of better dental hygiene on the part of the patient and specialist care by your periodontal specialist here at MyDental. The treatment required from your dentist depends on how far the disease has progressed, and can be anything from a thorough cleaning to periodontal surgery.
Periodontal treatment is normally carried out to:
- Eliminate the bacterial infections that are the cause of harmful gum disease.
- Control the inflammation that can destroy the tissue which anchoring your teeth to your jawbone.
- Bring about an improved condition for your gums that can be more easily maintained through regular checkups and a good oral health regime on the part of the patient.
In some patients, however, gingivitis will deteriorate to a more serious stage of gum disease - periodontitis - that can destroy the structures which anchor teeth to bone.
Many people who suffer full-blown periodontitis initially suffer from a form of gum disease known as gingivitis. If caught at this early stage, your dentist or oral hygienist can normally treat the condition with great success – usually by a thorough cleaning in the surgery.
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How does the condition develop in the first place?
There’s a clue in the meaning of the term ‘periodontal’. It actually means ‘around the tooth’, and in a normal, healthy patient, what you will find around the tooth is healthy gum tissue, which fits snugly and protects both the tooth and the bone below it. If you look closely in the mirror, you’ll spot that there’s a slight v-shaped crevice where the tooth meets the gum line. In a healthy patient, this is usually less than 3 millimetres in depth, which means that your toothbrush can easily penetrate it and clean the space.
When periodontal disease attacks, however, this crevice becomes deeper – and more difficult to clean. It’s also an ideal space for bacteria to thrive in, and if left untreated, you can eventually be faced with tooth loss.
This is why it's so important to keep your gums healthy, and fitting neatly around each tooth for added protection. The biggest threat to your gum tissue is plaque – the sticky form of bacteria that forms on your teeth.
If you don’t remove this plaque by brushing twice a day, along with flossing or using interdental brushes, it starts to absorb some of the minerals in your saliva. These minerals then combine with the saliva to form a hard matter call tartar – you can feel it with your tongue if it happens to you.
Once this has happened, normal brushing won't remove it and you need to visit your dentist for a professional cleaning.
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What are the early stages of periodontal disease?
Periodontal Disease: Early Stages
The initial stage of Periodontal Disease is known as gingivitis and you’ll know you have it if your gums become red or swell up or bleed when you use your toothbrush. It’s fairly easily treated at this stage, but if you ignore the symptoms, it will eventually become full-blown periodontitis.
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What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
Periodontal Disease: Symptoms
You can spot some of these symptoms yourself, but in case you miss them, regular visits to your dentist will make sure that they’re spotted and addressed immediately.
- Bleeding gums when you are brushing or flossing. Remember that healthy gums should never bleed.
- Signs that your gums are pulling away from your teeth, which can expose the roots of the tooth.
- Gums that become tender or red or swollen.
- Bad breath (particularly when you haven’t experienced it regularly in the past).
- The formation of pus between teeth and gums.
- A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite.
- A loosening of the teeth.
In the advanced stages of periodontal disease, you may experience pain, but by that stage, it may be too late to successfully treat the condition, so please don’t wait till you experience pain – keep a wary out for the above symptoms.
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How is periodontal disease treated?
Periodontal Disease: Treatment
How we treat the disease depends, to a large extent, on how quickly we catch the condition. If addressed when it is still only gingivitis, treatment is very successful and no long-term damage usually occurs. We normally carry out a thorough cleaning and advise you on how to improve your dental hygiene regime.
If the disease progresses further, however, it must be treated quickly and effectively. This may involve a process known as Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing. We use a small scaler, combined with a special antimicrobial solution. This removes not just any plaque that’s formed, but also the tartar.
Once we’ve removed the tartar, we plane the root surfaces to make sure that bacteria and plaque are discouraged from accumulating further.
For more serious cases, the Periodontal Scaling and Root Scaling process may also involve inserting time-released antibiotics into the ‘pocket’, to reduce any inflammation and speed up the process of healing.
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In cases where gum disease (periodontitis) cannot be cured by treatment with antibiotics or root planning and scaling, then your dentist may need to perform a gingivectomy. The treatment removes and reshapes any loose or diseased gum tissue that may have formed between the teeth and the gums.
The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and loose gum tissue may be removed with laser treatment. To help your gums heal afterwards, your dentist can put a form of dental putty over the gum line, but you can eat soft foods while this is in place.
It will typically take a few days – and perhaps over a week in some cases – for your gums to fully heal. If you're experiencing any pain, you can take some over-the-counter painkillers.