Non-Surgical Approaches to Treating Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. It can take the form of everything from mild gum inflammation to a serious condition that causes gum-tissue damage, dental bone loss and eventual tooth loss. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that close to one in two American adults has mild, moderate or severe periodontitis. The prevalence rate among adults 65 and older is even higher, around 70 percent. In its mildest form, periodontitis is often referred to as gingivitis, a condition characterized by red, swollen and sometimes bleeding gums. Gingivitis is usually the result of insufficient oral hygiene, though other factors such as hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, diabetes and use of certain medications can cause it as well. Gingivitis is usually reversible with proper oral care and professional treatment at a dentist office. More aggressive treatment is needed for moderate to severe periodontal disease. While treatment options vary depending on the severity of the disease, the American Association of Periodontology recommends that periodontal treatment generally be delivered in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner possible. The main goal is to ensure that the infection does not develop further and cause more damage to gums and bone supporting the teeth. The most common non-surgical approach to treating periodontal disease is referred to as a "deep cleaning." It is a procedure where the dental hygienist removes plaque from below and above a patient's gum line using a method known as root planning or scaling. The goal is to smooth out rough spots in the root of a tooth where germs might accumulate. As an alternative to deep cleaning, some dentists might use a laser to get rid of tartar and plaque. In most cases, patients do not require any additional active treatment for their periodontal disease, though they might need ongoing maintenance. A cosmetic dentist might whiten teeth, put veneers or do cosmetic bonding on teeth that have become discolored, dulled or misaligned due to periodontal disease. Another non-surgical approach to treating moderate to severe periodontal disease is to use an antibiotic medication to eliminate bacteria infected pockets in the gums. Please call Great Lakes Dental Arts to schedule your consultation with our periodontal specialists!