Periodontitis, sometimes referred to as advanced gum disease, is a serious issue. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 50 percent of all adults over 30 in the United States suffer from this condition. They are in serious need of advanced periodontal therapy in order to avoid losing teeth, dealing with painful gums, and other dental issues. Unfortunately, some people don’t realize they have a need for advanced periodontal therapy. Others may not have the financial resources to see a periodontist.
The first step is to identify that you’re suffering from periodontitis. Then you can consider seeking advanced periodontal therapy before the disease reaches that point that you start losing teeth.
How Do You Reach the Point that You Need Advanced Periodontal Therapy
Many people have heard about gingivitis or gum disease. Many people deal with gingivitis, but some don’t realize that it’s the first stage of what later becomes periodontitis. Gingivitis begins when you don’t remove the plaque from your teeth. This plaque includes bacteria that slowly seep into your gums, infecting them. That’s when they start to become swollen and appear red. If you brush them, they usually start to bleed.
The good news is that at this point, you don’t need advanced periodontal therapy. All you need to do is get a professional cleaning from your dentist and begin practicing good oral hygiene. By brushing and flossing regularly, you can defeat gingivitis before it becomes more serious.
Unfortunately, if you don’t treat it, gingivitis does progress into periodontitis. This happens when the bacteria in the gums start to affect the ligaments and bone of the mouth. This is where your teeth are anchored. As the bacteria cause the ligaments to weaken and the bone to thin, your teeth won’t be as strong. Some may even become loose and fall out. Without advanced periodontal therapy, you could even lose most of your teeth to this disease. You’re also likely to experience a good amount of pain from eating and drinking, especially as the roots of the teeth become exposed.
Types of Advanced Periodontal Therap
There are a number of different types of advanced periodontal therapy that can help you battle advanced gum disease. The first thing your periodontist may try is a nonsurgical form of treatment. This method is known as scaling and root planning or SRP. The denial starts by scraping off all of the plaque or tartar that has built up on your teeth. They also use a process called scaling that removes the tartar and plaque from the root surfaces. Next, they smooth out any rough areas near the roots to stop bacteria from collecting there again. You may need several of these treatments to truly deal with periodontitis.
Unfortunately, if your gum disease is fairly advanced, you may need a surgical form of advanced periodontal therapy. These methods are more likely to succeed in treating periodontitis, but they are more involved and can be more painful. The first method often used is called a pocket reduction. If your gums aren’t growing back around your teeth, you may need this done. The periodontist will fold your gums back, remove the bacteria, and smooth out the area. This helps the gums reattach and remain healthy.
Gum grafts are another way of dealing with gums that aren’t reattaching as they should. If your gums have receded so much that the roots of your teeth are exposed, the periodontist may need to remove some of the tissue from the palate and actually graft it onto the gum. This advanced periodontal therapy will help protect the roots of the teeth and can reduce the pain you feel from eating or drinking.
Another form of advanced periodontal therapy is to graft bone into the area where bacteria have eaten away some of the existing bone. The periodontist first cleans the area to remove bacteria before grafting bone onto the area. This bone can be natural bone taken from other parts of the bone, or it can be synthetic. The periodontist also adds proteins to the area that help promote tissue and bone growth.
Follow-up to Advanced Periodontal Therapy
Once you’ve had advanced periodontal therapy, you will likely need to return to your periodontist or dentist regularly. These first visits will be to check on your gums and make certain the treatment is working. If it’s not, you may need another form of advanced periodontal therapy. Once the periodontist is satisfied that the periodontitis has been dealt with, you will need to regularly go in for cleanings and checkups.
It’s very easy for gingivitis to return, especially if you don’t brush and floss as you should. Once your gums start to become sensitive and hurt or bleed when brushing, you’re even more likely to stop practicing good oral hygiene. When that happens, you’re likely to move into periodontitis again.
There are some other things your periodontist will urge you to do when you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis. You should stop smoking, since that makes it more difficult for the body to heal and can lead to a host of other health problems. You should also cut back on how many sugary snacks and soft drinks you consume. Those will only lead to worsening oral health.
Are You in Need of Advanced Periodontal Therapy?
If your gums are sensitive or swollen, if you have loose teeth, or if you have pain in your mouth, you may be in need of advanced periodontal therapy. When you develop periodontitis, you can’t treat it on your own. You need to see a specialized periodontist rather than a general dentist. That’s because these experts have additional training in advanced periodontal therapy and understand the many different illnesses that periodontitis can cause. They can help heal your gums and may even be able to prevent you from needing teeth extracted.
Contact Walker Periodontics & Implant dentistry today at (972) 462-9800 to learn more about how you can benefit from advanced periodontal therapy.
Stephen S. Walker, D.D.S., M.S.
Dr. Walker is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Periodontology. He grew up in Dallas and attended Baylor College of Dentistry. While at Baylor, he was a member of the Odontological Honors Society and was selected to receive the Oral Biology Award and Merritt-Parks Award in Periodontics.